U.S. Men Fall in Five to Poland

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | Sept. 29, 2018, 11:04 p.m. (ET)

The U.S. Men's National Team huddle between sets

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 29, 2018) – The U.S. Men’s National Team will play for bronze at the FIVB World Championship after falling to Poland in Saturday’s semifinal, 25-22, 20-25, 23-25, 25-20, 15-11 in Turin, Italy.

The U.S. Men (9-2) will play Serbia (7-4) for third place at 8 a.m. PT on Sunday. Poland (8-3) will play Brazil (10-1) for the gold medal at 12:15 p.m. PT. It is a repeat of the final in 2014, which Poland won.

The U.S. Men have not played for a medal at the World Championship since 1994 when they finished third. The U.S. has played Serbia twice this season and won both matches. The first win came during pool play of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League, where the U.S. won 3-0. The second came in the very first match of the World Championship, where the U.S. won 3-2.

Saturday’s match, which ended after midnight in Italy, came down to the fifth set. Poland jumped out to a 6-1 lead behind the serves of Fabian Drzyzga. With Poland leading 11-5, U.S. middle blocker Dan McDonnell went on a service run, including an ace and kills from opposite Matt Anderson and outside hitter Aaron Russell. But Poland came back with two straight kills to lead 13-9 and put the match out of reach.

“Poland played better than us, even if we gave everything,” Russell said in a translated quote from the FIVB. “We fought with courage, and we will try to do it again for the bronze. It's going to be hard, but we will go for the win.”

The U.S. led in kills (65-59) and aces (8-7). Poland led in blocks (13-10) and scored 29 points on U.S. errors while committing 20.

Anderson and outside hitter Taylor Sander led the U.S. with 19 points apiece. Anderson scored on 17 kills, one block and one ace. Sander scored on 15 kills, two blocks and two aces. Russell added 18 points on 16 kills, one block and one ace.

Middle blocker David Smith finished with 12 points on seven kills, three blocks and two aces. Middle blocker Max Holt finished with eight points on six kills and two blocks. McDonnell, who platooned with both Smith and Holt, score five points, including two aces.

Setter Micah Christenson had a kill and a block. He set the U.S. to a 50.4 kill percentage while Poland’s was 51.8.

At times, the U.S. slowed down Polish opposite Bartosz Kurek, but couldn’t shut him down and he led all scorers with 29 points, including five blocks. Outside hitter Michal Kubiak was also lethal and finished with 22 points.

After trailing 19-10 in the first set, the U.S. Men seemed to find their bearings and used service runs from Anderson and Sander to pull to within three, 25-22, at the final.

That momentum carried into the second set where the U.S. Men used a Russell service run to go from a 17-16 deficit to a 21-17 lead.

The U.S. dominated the third set, leading 17-9. Poland picked up its game and tied the score at 22-22. A Sander kill and Poland error gave the U.S. set point. Poland scored one more time before hitting the next ball out to give the U.S. the set win.

Poland held a two-point advantage for most of the fourth set. The U.S. Men stayed close until Poland led 18-17 and scored on three straight kills. The U.S. didn’t respond, and Poland forced the fifth set.

Third-Round Schedule
(All times PT)
Sept. 26
Brazil def Russia, 20-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-12
Serbia def Italy. 25-15, 25-20, 25-18

Sept. 27
USA def Russia, 25-22, 25-23, 25-23
Poland def Serbia, 28-26. 28-26. 25-22

Sept. 28
Brazil def USA, 25-20, 25-18, 25-19
Italy def Poland, 14-25, 25-21, 18-25, 25-17, 15-11

Sept. 29
Semifinal: Brazil def Serbia, 25-22, 25-21, 25-22
Semifinal: Poland def USA, 25-22, 20-25, 23-25, 25-20, 15-11

Sept. 30
8 a.m. Bronze: USA vs Serbia
12:15 p.m. Gold: Brazil vs Poland

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
Round 2: Sofia, Bulgaria
Sept. 21: USA def Canada, 25-17, 25-14, 21-25, 25-17
Sept. 22: USA def Bulgaria, 25-20, 25-20, 25-18
Sept. 23: USA v Iran, 25-23, 26-24, 26-24

Round 1: 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