CHICAGO, Ill. (July 13, 2019) – The U.S. Men’s National Team will play for the FIVB Volleyball Nations League gold medal on Sunday after posting a dramatic comeback win over Brazil on Saturday, 25-21, 17-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-9 at Credit Union 1 Arena.
The United States will play Russia for the gold at 6 p.m. CT. The match will be shown live on FloVolleyball.tv and on Monday at 6:30 p.m. PT on the Olympic Channel. Brazil will play Poland for bronze at 3 p.m. CT.
There were plenty of heroes to go around for the U.S. Men on Saturday, but perhaps the biggest surprise came from middle blocker Jeff Jendryk, who grew up in the Chicago area. Jendryk entered the match in the third set for David Smith.
Jendryk came up big in the fifth set, taking the serve with the U.S. clinging to a 6-5 lead and serving for five straight points, including an ace, to get out of reach of Brazil at 11-5.
But it wasn’t just his serving that helped. Jendryk came up with two big digs during the run to help the U.S. Men.
“I just feel amazing right now,” Jendryk said. “On those last five serves that I hit, I was being really aggressive. The guys in the front row were putting up a big screen. I was in my serve and I made it dance so it was really hard for them to pass it.”
The U.S. Men also got help off the bench from outside hitter Garrett Muagututia, who helped stabilize a passing game that struggled after the first set.
“After we played so well the first set, Brazil came back at us,” Muagututia said. “They stepped their serving up and got us in trouble.”
The U.S. Men also got a strong performance from veteran opposite Matt Anderson, who led all scorers with 22 points on a match-high 20 kills and two blocks. Outside hitter Taylor Sander added 17 points on 15 kills, one block and one ace.
Middle blocker Max Holt scored nine points on nine kills and a match-high three blocks.
Brazil led in kills 59-55. The U.S. hitting efficiency behind setter Micah Christenson was 54.4 while Brazil’s was 542.2. Brazil led in aces, 6-4, but the U.S. dominated the blocking, 11-4.
Things won’t get any easier in Sunday’s championship match as defending VNL champion Russia is sure to start all of its heavy hitters.
“Russia brings power,” said Anderson, who has played for a Russian club team for five years. “They’re big boys. They jump high. They hit hard. They serve tough. But I think the system we play for Team USA is better than theirs.”
U.S. STARTERS VS BRAZIL
Outside hitters: Taylor Sander and Aaron Russell
Middle blockers: Max Holt and David Smith
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji
Substitutes: Garrett Muagututia (OH), Jeff Jendryk (MB), Kawika Shoji (S), Thomas Jaeschke (OH)
U.S. STATISTICS VS BRAZIL
Kills: Anderson 20, Sander 15, Holt 6, Smith 5, Jendryk 4, Russell 3, Christenson 1, Muagututia 1
Blocks: Holt 3, Anderson 2, Sander 1, Jendryk 1, Muagututia 1, Smith 1, Russell 1, Christenson 1
Aces: Sander 1, Jendryk 1, Russell 1, Christenson 1
U.S. Men’s Roster for VNL Finals in Chicago
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)
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)
14 Micah Ma'a (S, 6-3, Kaneohe, Hawaii, UCLA)
17 Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola)
18 Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
20 David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
22 Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
30 George Huhmann (MB, 6-11, St. Louis, Mo., Princeton)
Head Coach: John Speraw
Assistant Coaches: Rob Neilson and Brian Thornton
Consultant Coach: Mike Wall
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Schedule for VNL Finals in Chicago
Poland def Brazil, 25-23, 23-25, 25-21, 21-25, 15-9
USA def France, 25-16, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21
5 p.m.: Iran vs Poland
8 p.m.: Russia vs France
5 p.m. Brazil vs Iran
8 p.m. USA vs Russia
5 p.m. Semifinal 1
8 p.m. Semifinal 2
3 p.m. Bronze medal
6 p.m. Gold medal