U.S. Men Advance the Hard Way

By B.J. Evans | July 17, 2015, 6:42 p.m. (ET)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (July 17, 2015) – It did it the hard way, but nevertheless, the U.S. Men’s National Team advanced to the semifinals of the FIVB World League with a 25-21, 25-22, 24-26, 25-20 win over France on Friday at the Maracanazinho stadium.

In the end, all three teams in World League Pool I finished 1-1 in matches, 4-4 in sets and with three points each. The tie-breaker was point differential, which put the U.S. Men first in the pool at 1.031. France finished second with a differential of 1.000 while Brazil finished third at .970 and will not advance to the semifinals. The United States will face Serbia (the second-place team from Pool J) in Saturday's first semifinal at 6 a.m. PT. The match will be shown live on the FIVB YouTube channel.

Had the U.S. Men won 3-0, the tie-breaker would not have been needed and the U.S. and Brazil would have advanced to the semifinals; a possibility that had Brazilian fans chanting “U-S-A” as it looked like the U.S. would win the third set.

DATAVOLLEY STATISTICS | OFFICIAL STATISTICS | U.S. WORLD LEAGUE PAGE

The U.S. led the third set 17-12 and held match point at 24-23. But France scored three straight points to take the set. The Brazilian crowd quickly changed its allegiance to the French team and the U.S. Men were faced with a must-win situation. Beating France 3-2 would not be good enough to advance to the semifinals.

U.S. opposite Matt Anderson said his team worked to stay focused on each point.

“A mindset that we have been trying to teach each other and our team this entire time is to play each point as if it’s its own,” Anderson said. “No lead is too big for us.

“Another thing is to keep pushing when we have a lead to get more points.”

The United States led 13-9 in the fourth set. France pulled to within one at 13-12. The U.S. took a timeout and Anderson came back with a kill to spark a 3-0 run and the U.S. Men never led by less than two points after that.

“I’m proud of our team and their ability to come back after last night’s emotional loss to Brazil,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “It’s always difficult when you play the home team and lose. I thought we put a lot of emotional energy into the match. For us to regroup and come back and play that well was really gratifying.”

Anderson and outside hitter Taylor Sander led the U.S. with 19 points apiece. Anderson had 15 kills, two blocks and two aces. Sander scored on a match-high 18 kills and one block. Middle blocker David Smith had a team-high four blocks.

The U.S. led in blocks 10-7 and in kills 51-44. France led in aces 5-4. The U.S. serving was much improved from Thursday’s loss to Brazil. The U.S. committed 19 service errors against France as opposed to 25 against Brazil. In total, the U.S. scored on 34 French errors while committing 33.

Micah Christenson set the U.S. to a .314 hitting efficiency while France’s hitting efficiency was .196.

The loss broke France's 15-match World League winning streak.

Friday’s Starters
Outside Hitters: Taylor Sander and Thomas Jaeschke
Middle Blockers: Max Holt and David Smith
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji

Friday’s Statistics
Kills: Sander 18, Anderson 15, Jaeschke 8, Holt 3, Christenson 3, Smith 3, Lotman 1
Blocks: Smith 4, Anderson 2, Christenson 2, Holt 1, Sander 1
Aces: Holt 2, Anderson 2
Digs: E Shoji 9, Holt 5, Sander 5, Christenson 5, Jaeschke 4, Anderson 4, Lotman 1, Lee 1, Smith 1

U.S. Roster for FIVB World League Final Round
July 15-19, 2015
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College) 
1. Matt Anderson (OH/OPP, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State) 
2. Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State) 
3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU) 
4. David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State) 
6. Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State) 
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford) 
9. Murphy Troy (Opp, 6-8, St. Louis, Mo., Southern California) 
10. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola) 
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California) 
12. Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU) 
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State) 
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
21. Dustin Watten (L, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Manager: Andrea Becker
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Team Doctor: Keith Feder


    Result     
May 30      USA def Iran     25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 25-23   Los Angeles, Calif. | USC Galen Center
May 31      USA def Iran     25-16, 25-16, 20-25, 25-20   Los Angeles, Calif. | USC Galen Center
                 
June 5     USA def Russia     25-18, 24-26, 25-15, 28-26   Long Beach, Calif. | the Walter Pyramid
June 6     USA def Russia     25-23, 25-21, 25-16    Long Beach, Calif. | the Walter Pyramid
                 
June 12     USA def Poland     23-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 15-9   Hoffman Estates, Ill. | Sears Centre Arena
June 13     USA def Poland     23-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-17   Hoffman Estates, Ill. | Sears Centre Arena
                 
June 19
  Iran def USA     25-19, 29-27, 25-20
  Tehran, Iran | Azadi Stadium
June 21     Iran def USA     25-20, 25-21, 25-19
                 
June 26     USA def Russia     25-21, 25-20, 25-19
  Kaliningrad
June 28     USA def Russia     25-23, 19-25, 25-23, 25-18
  Kaliningrad
                 
July 3     Poland def USA     19-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, 15-12
  Krakow
July 4     USA def Poland     25-20, 25-21, 22-25, 25-23
  Krakow
                 
July 16     Brazil def USA     28-26, 22-25, 25-22, 27-25
  Rio de Janeiro 
July 17     USA def France     25-21, 25-22, 24-26, 25-20
  Rio de Janeiro
July 18     USA v Serbia         Rio de Janeiro
July 19     USA v Poland or France         Rio de Janeiro