COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 16, 2016) – The U.S. Men opened the 2016 FIVB World League with a hard-fought win over Argentina, 26-24, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22 on Thursday at Carioca Arena in Rio de Janeiro.NBC Sports Extra and on NBC Sports Network.
The last time the U.S. Men faced Argentina was in the final match of the 2015 FIVB World Cup. The United States won the match, 3-1, winning the tournament and qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games.
In Thursday's battle, outside hitters Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) led the U.S. Men. Priddy, in particular, came through with tough defense and strong serving. Sander, the 2014 World League MVP, led all scorers with 23 points on a match-high 23 kills. Priddy added 16 points on 13 kills, two aces and one block.
"It wasn’t our cleanest volleyball match that we’ve played," U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. "It's early in the season so it’s not unexpected that our offense wouldn’t be where it should be."
The U.S. led in aces (4-3) while the teams were tied in kills 54-54. Argentina struggled with 23 service errors, while the U.S. had 14.
Setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii) set the U.S. Men to a .342 hitting efficiency. Argentina’s was .309.
"We missed some opportunities to set the ball better - not just Micah but everyone - and make better choices with how we attack the ball," Speraw said. "But I thought we fought hard and competed well."
Bruno Lima led Argentina with 19 points on 19 kills. Christian Poglajen added 12 points on 11 kills and one block. Argentina’s star outside hitter Facundo Conte did not play due to injury.
U.S. Starters vs. Argentina
Outside hitters: Taylor Sander and Reid Priddy
Middle blockers: Max Holt and David Smith
Setter: Micah Christenson
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Libero: Erik Shoji
U.S. Statistics vs. Argentina
Kills: Taylor Sander 23, Reid Priddy 13, Max Holt 6, Matt Anderson 5, David Smith 5, Murphy Troy 1, Micah Christenson 1
Blocks: Holt 3, Anderson 3, Smith 2, Priddy 1
Aces: Priddy 2, Holt 1, Anderson 1
Digs: Erik Shoji 12, Priddy 9, Anderson 8, Troy 5, Christenson 5, Sander 4, Holt 3, Smith 2
U.S. Roster for FIVB World League in Rio de Janeiro
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (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)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
8. Reid Priddy (OH, 6-4, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
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)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
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
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Team Manager: Erik Sullivan
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Medical Support: Andrea Becker
Consultant Coach: Anton Brams
2016 U.S. Schedule for the FIVB World League
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
June 16: USA def Argentina, 26-24, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22
June 17: USA v Iran
June 18: USA v Brazil
June 24: USA v Belgium
June 25: USA v Australia
June 26: USA v Italy
July 1: USA v Bulgaria
July 2: USA v Australia
July 3: USA v Russia
Final Round: July 13-17 in Krakow, Poland