U.S. Men Hold off Serbia to Open World Champs

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | Sept. 12, 2018, 7:28 p.m. (ET)
U.S. Men's National Team player Taylor Sander attacks
Taylor Sander attacks against a Serbian triple block. 
 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 12, 2018) – The U.S. Men’s National Team won their first match the hard way at the FIVB World Championship, coming back from 1-2 and beating Serbia, 15-25, 25-14, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10 on Wednesday in Bari, Italy.

The U.S. Men (1-0) will play Australia (0-1) at 8 a.m. PT on Wednesday. All men’s World Championship matches will be shown live on FloVolleyball.tv, which has reduced the subscription price 20 percent for the event.

The U.S. Men struggled early with Serbia’s serving and blocking.

TEAM STATISTICS | FIVB WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WEB SITE

“We’ve trained for very difficult moments like this,” U.S. outside hitter Aaron Russell said. “We just told each other to stay together as a team and continue to fight together.

“Serbia had some good servers. They put us in difficult situations with their serve and then put up a good block in front of us.”

The U.S. serving improved in the second set, allowing its block to pick up steam. Middle blocker Max Holt finished with four blocks, Russell and setter Micah Christenson had three each.

Down 2-1, the U.S. took a 19-11 lead in the fourth set before Serbia came back with a 5-0 run. Outside hitter Taylor Sander stopped the momentum with a kill to make it 20-16. But two straight U.S. errors pull Serbia to within two. The U.S scored twice on Serbia’s error and a Sander block. Serbia scored two more on U.S. errors, but the U.S. scored the final three points, including a block and a kill from Russell.

The U.S. Men led the tiebreaker 4-0. Serbia pulled to within one point at 5-4, but a kill from Holt and ace by opposite Matt Anderson strengthened the U.S. lead and Serbia never recovered.

By the end of the match, the U.S. Men led in kills (50-46), blocks (15-12) and aces (8-5). The U.S. Men’s hitting efficiency behind Christenson was .393. Serbia hit .309.

Anderson and Russell led the scoring with 19 points each. Each player had 15 kills. Anderson had two blocks and two aces and Russell added three blocks and one ace.

Sander scored 16 points including a match-high four aces, 10 kills and two blocks. Holt added 10 points, including four blocks.

“We had some opportunities, particularly in that fourth set, to score a lot more points,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “We didn’t capitalize on those and that was obviously frustrating. It was about us not getting frustrated, knowing we were capable of scoring points and continuing to improve our play throughout the course of the match.”

U.S. STARTERS VS SERBIA
Outside hitters: Aaron Russell and Taylor Sander
Middle blockers: Max Holt and Taylor Averill
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji

U.S. STATISTICS VS SERBIA
Kills: Anderson 15, Russell 15, Sander 10, Holt 6, Averill 4
Blocks: Holt 4, Russell 3, Christenson 3, Anderson 2, Sander 2, Averill 1
Aces: Sander 4, Anderson 2, Russell 1, Averill 1
Digs: Christenson 17, E Shoji 9, Russell 9, Anderson 8, Sander 7, Averill 3, Holt 1

2018 FIVB World Championship

U.S. Men’s Roster
1. Matt Anderson (Opp, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2. Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State)
3C. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
10. Dan McDonnell (MB, 6-6, Phoenix, Ariz., UC Irvine)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
12. Max Holt (MB, 6-10, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
13. Ben Patch (Opp, 6-8, Provo, Utah, BYU)
18. Jake Langlois (OH, 6-10, San Jose, Calif., BYU)
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
Assistant Coaches: Rob Neilson and Brian Thornton
Team Manager: Nate Ngo
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Team Psychologist: Andrea Becker
Team Doctors: Andrew Gregory and David Dyck
Scout Coach: Jon Parry
Consultant Coach: Mike Wall
Strength Coach: Tim Pelot 

U.S. Men’s World Championship Pool Play Schedule
Bari, Italy
All matches will be shown on Flovolleyball.tv
(All times PT)

Sept. 12: USA def Serbia, 15-25, 25-14, 21-25, 25-20, 15-20
Sept. 13 at 8 a.m.: Australia
Sept. 15 at 11:30 a.m.: Russia
Sept. 16 at 8 a.m.: Cameroon
Sept. 18 at 8 a.m.: Tunisia