U.S. Hands Poland First 2015 World League Loss

By B.J. Evans | June 12, 2015, 11 p.m. (ET)

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (June 12, 2015) – An estimated crowd of 9,574 witnessed the U.S. Men’s National Team hand Poland its first loss of the 2015 FIVB World League, 23-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 15-9, at the Sears Centre Arena.

The two teams will play again on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT and tickets are sold out for the arena that holds more than 10,000. The majority of the large crowd is rooting for Poland in the suburb close to Chicago, which has a large Polish community.

Saturday’s match is the FIVB Match of the Week and will be shown live at youtube.com/watch?v=JD4HvjxW0tM. Both Friday and Saturday’s matches will be shown on NBC Sports Net on June 14.

With Friday’s victory, the U.S. leads World League Pool B with a 5-0 record and 14 points. Poland is second at 4-1 with 11 points.

Data Volley Statistics | Official Statistics | World League Event Page

U.S. Head Coach John Speraw did not make many substitutions in the team’s first four matches as it won all of them 3-0 and 3-1. But Poland proved to be a greater challenge.

“I think for large stretches of the match Poland played better,” Speraw said. “But we were able to make a couple key runs at important times and take a couple sets to allow us to get to the fifth.”

Speraw brought in outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke, who grew up in nearby Wheaton, Ill., and plays for Loyola of Chicago, for Aaron Russell in the second set and he started the rest of the match. After subbing in the first three sets, middle blocker David Lee started the fourth and fifth sets for David Smith and middle blocker Russell Holmes started the fourth set for Max Holt before Holt returned to play a key role in the fifth set.

“I was just trying to get guys going,” Speraw said. “There’s a couple reasons why I made each individual move. I thought we had a really nice team effort. I thought guys came off the bench and contributed in great ways. I would go back to a guy and he would come off the bench and still be focused and involved in the match.”

Outside hitter Matt Anderson led the U.S. Men with 20 points on 17 kills, two blocks and one ace. Opposite Murphy Troy added 17 points on 17 kills and Jaeschke finished with 10 points on seven attacks two blocks and one ace.

Poland’s Bartosz Kurek led all scorers with 24 points on a match-high 23 kills and one block.

The teams were closely matched in kills, which the U.S. led 60-58. The U.S. also led in aces 6-3, led by setter Micah Christenson who had three by himself. The teams were tied 9-9 in blocks. Poland’s Mateusz Bieniek led all blockers with four.

Poland led 19-18 in the fourth when the U.S. tied the score with a Troy attack and took the lead on a block from Holt, who had returned to the match a few plays earlier. Poland kept the score close, but with the U.S. leading 23-22, Lee scored the final two points of the set with a kill and block.

The U.S. carried that momentum in to the fifth set, the U.S. jumped out to a 5-2 lead and Poland never regained its footing.

“The fact that we ended up with this victory was really a big step for us,” Lee said. “To be able to stay in that match and fight the entire time and keep our energy up… I’m really proud of the team.”

Friday's starting lineup: 
Outside hitter: Matt Anderson and Aaron Russell
Middle blocker: Max Holt and David Smith
Opposite: Murphy Troy
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji

Saturday's stats:
Points: Anderson 20, Troy 17, Jaeschke 10, Holt 7, Christenson 6, Lee 5, Smith 5, Russell 4, Holmes 1
Kills: Anderson 17, Troy 17, Jaeschke 7, Holt 5, Smith 5, Russell 4, Lee 3, Christenson 1, Holt 1
Blocks: Anderson 2, Jaeschke 2, Holt 2, Christenson 2, Lee 1
Aces: Christenson 2, Smith 1, Holt 2, Lee 1

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)
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)
8. Reid Priddy (OH, 6-4, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
9. Murphy Troy (Pop, 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)
15. Carson Clark (Pop, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
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

2015 FIVB World League
Galen Center in Los Angeles
May 30: USA d Iran, 25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 25-23
May 31: USA d Iran, 25-16, 25-16, 20-25, 25-20

Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif.                             
June 5: USA d Russia, 25-18, 24-26, 25-15, 28-26
June 6: USA d Russia, 25-23, 25-21, 25-16

Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
June 12: USA d Poland, 23-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 15-9
June 13: USA v Poland, 7 p.m. CT

Tehran, Iran
June 19: USA at Iran
June 21: USA at Iran

Kaliningrad, Russia
June 26: USA at Russia
June 28: USA at Russia

Krakow, Poland
July 3: USA at Poland
July 4: USA at Poland

July 15-19: World League Final Round (Must Qualify)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil