HIROSHIMA, Japan (Sept. 13, 2015) – Coaches of the U.S. Men’s National Team were concerned that their team might let down against Egypt on Sunday following an important three-set win over Italy on Saturday.
What they didn’t take into account was that Egypt might be suffering a bit of letdown as well.
While the U.S. didn’t play its best match, it was good enough to beat Egypt, 25-20, 25-13, 25-21 in an FIVB World Cup match at Hiroshima Green Arena.
The U.S. Men improve to 5-0 in World Cup. The U.S. and Poland (5-0) are the only undefeated teams in World Cup. Egypt falls to 0-5. The U.S. Men will travel to Osaka on Monday for the next round, where they will face Venezuela (1-4) on Wednesday (Sept. 16), Iran (2-2) on Thursday (Sept. 17) and Tunisia (0-5) on Friday (Sept. 18). Teams at the World Cup play 11 matches in 16 days in a round-robin format. The top two teams qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“When I looked at the schedule for World Cup, I was most concerned with this match,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “Mostly because I knew our team would be very focused on Italy.
“The one thing we knew about Egypt is that they are a very good volleyball team. We have 100 percent respect for Egypt and the way they play the game. They are talented. They are big. They have very good servers.”
But Egypt, which had lost a five-set match to Australia on Saturday, not to mention suffering two other five-set losses and one four-set loss during the Hiroshima series, was not quite itself on Sunday.
The U.S. led in kills (34-24), blocks (10-2) and aces (11-2). Behind setter Micah Christenson, its hitting efficiency was .400 while Egypt’s was .087.
Outside hitter Taylor Sander, who led all scorers with 14 points on 13 kills and one block, said the coaches didn’t need to worry.
“We know Egypt is a good team,” Sander said. “For all the guys and me, I don’t think we were going to let up at all in this match.
“We came out and we dominated the first two sets. They played well in that third set. We had to grab some energy from our tanks. We finished out strong and that’s important for us.”
Outside hitter Aaron Russell was named the Most Impressive Player, scoring 11 points on seven kills and a match-high four aces. Opposite Matt Anderson also scored 11 points on seven kills, two blocks and two aces.
Middle blocker David Lee was tough at the net with a match-high three blocks and two kills to go with two aces. Christenson and middle blocker Max Holt each had two blocks apiece. Christenson also had two aces while Holt had one.
While Speraw and the team were obviously happy about their World Cup start, they know there are six key matches left to go.
“Four years ago at this tournament, we had already lost three times. We are very happy to win these matches,” Speraw said. “I think we’ve shown we’ve made some improvements from World League, which has been nice.
“The most important thing we need to continue is just focusing on the next match. We can’t think about anything else now but beating Venezuela."
Kills: Sander 13, Russell 7, Anderson 7, Holt 4, Lee 2, Christenson 1
Blocks: Lee 3, Christenson 2, Holt 2, Anderson 2, Sander 1
Aces: Russell 4, Lee 2, Anderson 2, Christenson 2, Holt 1
Digs: Sander 5, Russell 4, Christenson 3, E Shoji 3, Anderson 1, Holt 1
Outside hitter: Taylor Sander and Aaron Russell
Middle blockers: Max Holt and David Lee
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji
U.S. Roster for the FIVB World Cup
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (OH, 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)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
12. Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
16. Jayson Jablonsky (OH, 6-5, Yorba Linda, Calif., UC Irvine)
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)
U.S. Schedule for the 2015 FIVB World Cup (All times PT)
Round 1 in Hiroshima
Sept. 8: USA def Australia, 25-23, 25-12, 25-15
Sept. 9: USA def Japan, 25-23, 21-25, 25-11, 25-14
Sept. 10: USA def Canada, 25-21, 25-20, 25-17
Sept. 11: USA def Italy, 25-18, 25-23, 29-27 | TV Universal Sports, 1 p.m. ET
Sept. 12: USA def Egypt, 25-20, 25-13, 25-21 | TV Universal Sports, 7 a.m. ET
Round 2 in Osaka
Sept. 15 at 8:10 p.m. USA v Venezuela
Sept. 16 at 8:10 p.m. USA v Iran
Sept. 17 at 8:10 p.m. USA v Tunisia
Round 3 in Tokyo
Sept. 21 at 1:10 a.m. USA v Poland | TV Universal Sports, 6 p.m. ET
Sept. 22 at 1:10 a.m. USA v Russia | TV Universal Sports, 6 p.m. ET
Sept. 23 at 2:40 a.m. USA v Argentina | TV Universal Sports, 6 p.m. ET