Sleepless in Sofia: U.S. Men Gear up for 2nd Round at Worlds

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | Sept. 19, 2018, 4:52 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 19, 2018) – The U.S. Men’s National Team will play the second round of the FIVB World Championship in Sofia, Bulgaria, against Canada, Bulgaria and Iran.

The second round of the World Championship consists of four pools of four teams playing in Bulgaria and Italy. The four pool winners by points plus the two best second-place teams will advance to the final round on Sept. 26-30 in Turin, Italy. The points the teams won in the first round carry over to the second round.

The U.S. Men (5-0), the winners of Pool C, will play Canada at 7 a.m. PT on Friday, Sept. 21. They will play Bulgaria at 10:40 a.m. PT on Saturday, Sept. 22 and will play Iran at 7 a.m. PT on Sunday, Sept. 23. All matches will be shown on Flovolleyball.tv, a subscription service chosen by the FIVB. FloVolleyball is offering a 20 percent discount this month.

“This tournament just gets tougher and tougher,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “We’re going to Sofia and we are going to have a really tough pool. We’re going to have to play great volleyball to move on.

“That’s what makes this tournament exciting. It’s the best of the best and we will see how we stack up.”

Iran (4-1) finished second in Pool D, where it only lost to pool-winner Poland. It beat Bulgaria, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Finland.

Bulgaria (3-2) finished third in Pool D, losing to Iran and Poland.

Canada (3-2) placed fourth in Pool B where it lost to France and Brazil. It beat Netherlands, Egypt and China.

The U.S. Men have not played Bulgaria this season. They have played Iran twice, once during Volleyball Nations League and once during the pre-Worlds Ljubljana Challenge in Slovenia. The U.S. Men won both matches, 3-0. They also beat Canada 3-1 in Ljubljana.

The U.S. Men played Canada three times in 2017. The U.S. lost to Canada twice during the FIVB World League, a 3-2 loss in pool play and a 3-1 loss in the bronze-medal match at the Final Round.

The U.S. beat Canada in the semifinal of the 2017 NORCECA Championship, 3-0 (see video above).

The last time the U.S. Men faced Bulgaria was during pool play of the 2016 FIVB World League. The U.S. won 3-1.

Individual Statistical Leaders after First Round
Best Scorers
1 Wallace De Souza BRA (81K, 4B, 2A, 87P)
11 Matt Anderson USA (61K, 5B, 7A, 73P)
15 Aaron Russell (59K, 6B, 3A, 68P)
16 Taylor Sander (52K, 4B, 12A, 68P)

Best Spikers
1 Ivan Zaytsev ITA (64K, 8 faults, 201 attempts, 62.8%)
5 Taylor Sander USA (52K, 17 faults, 90 attempts, 57.8%)
6 Matt Anderson USA (61K, 21 faults, 109 attempts, 56%)

Best Blockers
1 Simon Van De Voorde BEL (21B, 1.11 per set)
34 Micah Christenson USA (8B, .40 per set)

Best Servers
1 Ivan Zaytsev ITA (12A, .71 per set)
2 Taylor Sander USA (12A, .60 per set)
7 Micah Christenson USA (9A, .45 per set)

Best Setters
1 Harrison Peacock AUS (237 running sets, 2 faults, 369 attempts, 11.85 per set)
2 Micah Christenson USA (211 running sets, 5 faults, 343 attempts, 10.55 per set)

Best Diggers
1 Steve Marshall CAN (45 digs, 12 faults, 66 attempts, 2.5 per set)
3 Erik Shoji USA (38 digs, 1 fault, 52 attempts, 1.9 per set)

Best Receivers
1 Taylor Sander USA (44 excellent receptions, 2 faults, 99 attempts, 42.4%
2 Erik Shoji USA (35 excellent receptions, 4 faults, 76 attempts, 40.8%

Top 16 Teams after First Round
1 Italy 15 points
2 Poland 15 points
3 USA 13 points
4 Serbia 11 points
5 Brazil 11 points
6 Netherlands 11 points
7 Iran 11 points
8 France 11 points
9 Russia 10 points
10 Belgium 10 points
11 Bulgaria 9 points
12 Canada 9 points
13 Slovenia 9 points
14 Australia 7 points
15 Argentina 6 points
16 Finland 6 points

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 Schedule
Sofia, Bulgaria
All matches will be shown on Flovolleyball.tv
(All times PT)
Sept. 21 at 7 a.m. USA v Canada
Sept. 22 at 10:40 a.m. USA v Bulgaria
Sept. 23 at 7 a.m. USA v Iran

Bari, Italy
Sept. 12: USA def Serbia, 15-25, 25-14, 21-25, 25-20, 15-20
Sept. 13: USA def Australia, 25-21, 25-20, 22-25, 23-25, 15-10
Sept. 15: USA def Russia, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 25-20
Sept. 16: USA def Cameroon, 25-18, 25-20, 25-14
Sept. 18: USA def Tunisia, 25-12, 25-18, 25-13