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U.S. Men Beat Serbia to Secure Semifinal Slot

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | July 05, 2017, 10:39 p.m. (ET)

U.S. Men's National Team 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 5, 2017) – At the edge of elimination, the U.S. Men’s National Team found a way to win yet another match in the FIVB World League Final Round on Wednesday and will advance to Friday’s semifinal.


The U.S. Men bounced back from a 3-2 loss to France to defeat Serbia on Wednesday, 25-22, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22 in Curitiba, Brazil. France and Serbia will play Thursday to determine which will advance to the semifinals.

Although the United States’ five-set loss to France on Tuesday was disappointing, it also gave the U.S. one point toward a tie-breaker. If Serbia were to beat France on Thursday, giving all three teams 1-1 records, the United States’ four points would still be good enough to advance.

“The best thing about our team is our composure, our togetherness,” Team Captain Kawika Shoji told the FIVB. “There was no panic (after the loss to France). We knew our destiny was in our hands.”

The match came down to the fourth set. The U.S. Men trailed 16-14 at the technical timeout. Back on the court, Taylor Sander connected on a back-row attack, giving the serve to Thomas Jaeschke, whose strong serving kept Serbia out of system. Sander scored on another kill off the block to tie the score and the Serbia hit the ball outside the antenna to give the U.S. a 17-16 lead.On the next play, Serbia’s block of Sander went to the back of the court. The ball was called out, and a challenge replay showed it was out by millimeters. The U.S. took an 18-16 lead and did not trail again.

Sander led all scorers with 22 points on a match-high 18 kills (.517 hitting efficiency), a match-high three aces and one block. Jaeschke, who didn’t play at all in World League pool play due to injury, added 14 points on 13 kills and one ace. Opposite Ben Patch led the team in blocks with three. 

The U.S. Men led in kills (56-47) while the teams tied in blocks (10-10) and aces (5-5). The U.S. scored on 30 of Serbia’s errors while committing 23. The U.S. hitting efficiency behind setter Micah Christenson was .345. Serbia hit .316.

Libero Erik Shoji was credited with 12 digs and 21 excellent receptions.

“It’s always interesting to see how your team is going to respond after you have a disappointing loss 24 hours earlier,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “I was most pleased with how we came out early in the match and had a really good first set and how we held on when Serbia made a nice run to come back. I think that set a good tone for us.

“I just felt real proud of our guys and the way they responded in the latter part of the fourth set.”

USAV Cup on August 18 and 19 in Hoffman Estates

U.S. Men's Starters vs. Serbia
Outsides: Taylor Sander and Thomas Jaeschke
Middles: David Smith and Jeff Jendryk
Setter: Micah Christenson
Opposite: Ben Patch
Libero: Erik Shoji

U.S. Men's Statistics vs. Serbia
Kills: Sander 18, Jaeschke 13, Patch 8, Smith 6, McDonnell 4, T.J, DeFalco 2, Jeff Jendryk 2, Carson Clark 2, Micah Christenson 1
Blocks: Patch 3, Christenson 2, McDonnell 2, Jendryk 1, Sander 1, Smith 1
Aces: Sander 3, Jaeschke 1, Smith 1

2017 FIVB World League Final Round
July 4-8 in Curitiba, Brazil
U.S. Men’s Roster

3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
7C. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
10. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
13. Dan McDonnell (MB, 6-6, Glendale, Ariz., UC Irvine)
14. Ben Patch (Opp, 6-8, Provo, Utah, BYU)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. TJ DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
19. Taylor Averill (MB, 6-7, San Jose, Calif., Hawaii)
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 Leader: Mike Wall
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Robert Neilson
Sports Psychologist: Andrea Becker
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock

TV Schedule and Results

Date and Opponent     Result   Location   TV (all times EDT)    
June 2     Serbia     L (25-18, 23-25, 25-20, 25-21)   Novi Sad, Serbia   June 2: 9:30-11:30 p.m. NBCSN    
June 3     Canada     L (23-25, 25-19,18-25, 25-23, 15-11)   Novi Sad, Serbia   June 3: 3-5 p.m. NBCSN    
June 4     Belgium     L (25-23, 25-16, 22-25, 28-26)   Novi Sad, Serbia   June 4: 6-8 p.m. UniHD    
June 9     Italy     W (25-22, 25-23, 25-23)   Pau, France   June 9: 6-8 p.m. NBCSN    
June 10     Russia     W (25-20, 25-22, 25-22)   Pau, France   June 10: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. UniHD
June 11     France     L (25-20, 18-25, 25-22, 25-21)   Pau, France   June 11: 3-4:30 p.m. NBCSN    
June 15     Iran  
W (25-17, 25-22, 30-28)   Katowice, Poland   June 15: 12-2 p.m.. NBCSN  
June 17     Russia     L (31-29, 17-25, 25-19, 27-29, 15-13)   Lodz, Poland   June 17: 6:30-8:30 p.m. NBCSN
June 18     Poland     W (26-31, 25-17, 27-25, 25-20)   Lodz, Poland   June 18: 6-8 p.m. NBCSN  
July 4     Final Round pool play     Brazil def Canada, 25-21, 17-25, 25-19, 25-19   Curitiba, Brazil   July 4, 2 p.m. on Universal HD    
July 4     Final Round pool play     France def USA, 27-25, 20-25, 26-24, 17-25, 15-12   Curitiba, Brazil   July 4, 4:40 p.m. on UniHD    
July 5     Final Round pool play     Canada def Russia, 25-23, 29-27, 25-17   Curitiba, Brazil   July 5, 2 p.m. on UniHD    
July 5     Final Round pool play     USA def Serbia, 25-22, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22   Curitiba, Brazil   July 5, 4:30 p.m. on UniHD    
July 6     Final Round pool play     Brazil def Russia, 25-18, 18-25, 25-19, 22-25, 16-14   Curitiba, Brazil   July 6, 2 p.m. on UniHD    
July 6     Final Round pool play     France def Serbia, 25-21, 25-20, 17-25, 18-25, 15-11   Curitiba, Brazil   July 6, 4;30 on UniHD    
July 7     Semifinals     Brazil vs USA   Curitiba, Brazil   July 7 at 2 p.m. on UniHD    
July 7     Semifinals     France vs Canada   Curitiba, Brazil   July 7 at 4:30 on UniHD    

Related Athletes

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Taylor Averill

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Micah Christenson

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Carson Clark

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TJ DeFalco

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Thomas Jaeschke

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Jeff Jendryk

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Dan McDonnell

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Garrett Muagututia

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Ben Patch

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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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Dustin Watten