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US Men Beat Poland for Bronze Medal

By B.J. Evans | July 19, 2015, 12:01 p.m. (ET)


RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (July 19, 2015) – At the end of a long two months of volleyball, the U.S. Men’s National Team swept Poland, 25-22, 25-23, 25-23 to win the FIVB World League bronze medal on Sunday at the Maracanazinho stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Middle blocker Max Holt was named the World League Best Blocker. France defeated Serbia in the World League final, 25-19, 25-21, 25-23. France finished World League at 16-1. It's only loss was to the U.S. Men.

The U.S. Men finish World League with an overall record of 11-5. They were 2-2 in the Final Round. The United States has won three World League bronze medals and six medals overall, including gold at the 2014 FIVB World League.


In 2015, the U.S. Men have a 4-1 record against Poland, the reigning world champion. The United States was the only team to beat Poland at the World Championships, which were in Poland.

Despite an early 9:10 a.m. start, the U.S. Men opened fast on Sunday, taking a 22-15 lead in the first set.

“After last night’s challenging match against Serbia, I was happy to see our guys come out and play, particularly the first eight points, with such energy,” Head Coach John Speraw said. “I thought that set the tone for the match.”

The U.S. led Poland in kills (65-3), blocks (10-8) and aces (5-3). The U.S. scored 26 points off Poland errors while committing 20.

Outside hitter Taylor Sander, who was the World League MVP in 2014, played like it again on Sunday, leading all scorers with 14 points on 10 kills, three blocks and one ace. Sander served for the final six points of the match, helping the U.S. Men go from a 23-19 deficit to a 25-23 victory.

After Micah Christenson got a block to tie the third-set score at 23-23, Poland called timeout. Sander came back with an ace to give the U.S. match points. Poland overpassed Sander’s next serve and outside hitter Aaron Russell pounded it to the floor for the final point.

“Personally, I just said I was going to play the hardest game I’ve ever played and I did that,” Sander said. “We started really well and that gave us a little bit of emotion and everybody kind of got going. We’re tired. Four games in a row is super difficult. We left it all out there and we did the best we could to win a bronze and that’s all that matters at this point.”

Russell was the second-leading scorer for the U.S. with 10 points on eight kills and two aces.

“I would say that I had a pretty good World League for my first year,” said Russell, who finished his career at Penn State in May. “Next year, I want to be back and better for the Olympics.”

Sunday’s starters
Outside hitter: Taylor Sander and Aaron Russell
Middle blockers: Max Holt and David Lee
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Dustin Watten

Sunday’s statistics
Kills: Sander 10, Russell 8, Anderson 7, Holt 5, Lee 4
Blocks: Sander 3, Holt 3, Christenson 2, Lee 2
Aces: Russell 2, Sander 1, Anderson 1, Christenson 1
Digs: Watten 6, Russell 5, Christenson 3, Anderson 3, Sander 2, Lee 2

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

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
June 28     USA def Russia     25-23, 19-25, 25-23, 25-18
July 3     Poland def USA     19-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, 15-12
July 4     USA def Poland     25-20, 25-21, 22-25, 25-23
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     Serbia def USA (semifinal)     25-23, 25-21, 25-27, 20-25, 15-12
  Rio de Janeiro
July 19     USA def Poland (bronze medal)     25-22, 25-23, 25-23
  Rio de Janeiro

Related Athletes

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Matt Anderson

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Micah Christenson

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Max Holt

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Russell Holmes

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Thomas Jaeschke

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David Lee

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Paul Lotman

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Aaron Russell

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Taylor Sander

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Erik Shoji

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Kawika Shoji

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David Smith

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Murphy Troy

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Dustin Watten