U.S. Men Face Toughest Challenge in Tokyo

By B.J. Evans | Sept. 20, 2015, 1:01 p.m. (ET)

TOKYO, Japan (Sept. 20, 2015) – The U.S. Men’s National Team had its first and last practice at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo on Sunday before it will begin its final three matches of the 2015 FIVB World Cup on Monday.

The U.S. Men are 8-0 with a 24-2 set record, but will most likely have to win two out of three of these final matches to ensure finishing in the top two and qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The team traveled from Osaka to Tokyo via bullet train on Saturday and had time for one training on Sunday.

FIVB WORLD CUP PAGE | U.S. MEN'S HOME PAGE

“It’s going to be a very exciting finish,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “It should be fun to play. We’re looking forward to it. I think we are going to have to play better volleyball than we’ve played so far, but hopefully we’ve grown and learned from each one of our experiences and we can finish the tournament playing our best volleyball.”FIVB World Cup

The U.S. Men will play undefeated Poland (8-0, 24-6 set record) on Monday at 5:10 p.m. local time (1:10 a.m. PT).

Poland won the 2014 FIVB World Championship and has handed Russia (7-1) its only loss of the tournament. Both Poland and Russia have beaten Argentina (6-2).

Poland has been led in scoring by opposite Bartosz Kurek (137 points). Outside hitter Rafal Buszek is second on the Polish team (87 points).

Russia is led in scoring by Dmitriy Muserskiy (113 points), who is listed as a middle blocker, but has been primarily playing at the opposite position. Maxim Mikhaylov (108 points), who is listed as an opposite but has been playing on the left side, is second in scoring on the Russian team.

The U.S. Men are led in scoring by opposite Matt Anderson (133 points), who also leads all players in aces with 20 (.77 per set). Outside hitter Taylor Sander (94 points) is second in scoring for the U.S.

Among other World Cup leaders:

  1. Sander is second among “spikers” with a success percentage of 58.46 kills per set. Mikhaylov leads all spikers with an average of 59.15 kills per set.
  2. U.S. middle blocker Max Holt is second among all blockers with an average of .73 blocks per set.
  3. Micah Christenson is second among all setters with an average of 10.46 running (good) sets per set.
  4. Libero Erik Shoji is fourth among all diggers with an average of 2.04 digs per set.

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) 

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

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
Sept. 12: USA def Egypt, 25-20, 25-13, 25-21

Round 2 in Osaka
Sept. 15: USA def Venezuela, 25-16, 25-18, 25-20
Sept. 16: USA def Iran, 20-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-21 
Sept. 17: USA def Tunisia, 25-14, 25-19, 29-27

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