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U.S. Men Lose to Russia in Finale

Nov. 24, 2013, 6:20 a.m. (ET)

TOKYO, Japan (Nov. 24, 2013) – Russia proved too powerful for the U.S. Men’s National Team, which fell to the European power, 29-27, 25-22, 25-19 in its final match of the FIVB Grand Champions Cup on Sunday at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

Erik Shoji receives the ball against Russia
   Erik Shoji receives the ball against Russia on Sunday.

The U.S. Men finished the tournament in fifth place with a record of 2-3. Brazil finished first while Russia took second and Italy was third. U.S. middle blocker Max Holt was named the first middle blocker to the tournament all-star team. He led all blockers with 17 (.85 per set). 

“Obviously we wanted to finish the tournament on a better note,” U.S. Team Captain Sean Rooney said. “We learned a lot this tournament. Personally, as captain, I’m excited about the places we can go with this group of guys. I’m already looking forward to next summer. I’m really proud to be a part of this team.”

The U.S. Men held set point four times in the first set, but Russia held them off each time and emerged with the win on a block and kill off the block. The U.S. Men were within one point of Russia in the second set 22-21, before losing 25-22. In the third set, Russia’s Evgeny Sivozhelez went on a seven-point serving run that included three straight aces to increase Russia’s lead from 9-8 to 16-8.

“I am excited for our team for next year and for the future,” said Matt Anderson, who was the leading scorer of the tournament with 104 points on 93 kills, five blocks and six aces. “I think we can be a great team. I’m disappointed we gave up in the third set. We had a lull that allowed them to run off seven points. It made it difficult for us to come back.”

The U.S. Men led in kills (39-35). Russia led in blocks (9-4) and aces (8-5). Russia scored 27 points on U.S. errors while committing 20.

“This was a difficult match for us,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw (Los Angeles) said. “Russia is an excellent volleyball team that puts so much pressure on you offensively from service line. I thought we were handling it pretty well early in the match. I thought we were passing the ball at a pretty high level. We just didn’t get as much offensive production as we needed to from our outside hitters.”

Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) led all scorers with 14 points on a match-high 10 kills, one block and three aces. Middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati) added eight points on six kills, one block and one ace. Rooney, at outside hitter, finished with seven points on six kills and one block. Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) scored seven points on six kills and one ace.

Middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) totaled five points on five kills. Outside hitter Jeff Menzel (Santa Barbara, Calif.), who started the third set for Rooney, scored five points on four attacks and one block.

Setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu) scored two points on two kills and was credited with 24 running sets. He set the team to a 43.4 kill percent.

Libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu) was credited with nine digs and nine excellent receptions. Priddy led in excellent receptions with 11.

The U.S. took a 6-2 lead in the first set and led 8-4 at the first technical timeout (TTO). Russia tied the score at 9-9 and the teams battled back and forth. The U.S. reached set point first at 24-23, but then served out of bounds. The U.S. took set point three more times, but Russia fought it each time. At 27-27, Russia used a block and kill by Evgeny Sivozhelez to win the set.

The teams were tied 16-16 in the second set when Russia scored on a kill from Dmitriy Ilinykh and ace from Nikolay Apalikov to take the lead. The U.S. pulled to within one at 21-20 on a Russian error and Priddy kill. But Russia came back with a kill and went on to win the set 25-22.

In the third set, Russia’s Evgeny Sivozhelez went on a seven-point serving run that included three straight aces to increase Russia’s lead from 9-8 to 16-8. The U.S. pulled back to within four at 22-18, but it was too little too late.

Fourteen-Player Roster for FIVB World Grand Champions Cup 
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (OH, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State) 
2. Sean Rooney (OH, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
4. David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
6. Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
8. Reid Priddy (OH, 6-4, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
9. Murphy Troy (Opp, 6-8, St. Louis, Mo., Southern California)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
13. Futi Tavana (MB, 6-7, Kalaheo, Hawaii, BYU)
14. Jeff Menzel (OH, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-8, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
19. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)

Head Coach: John Speraw (Los Angeles)
Team Manager:  Andrea Becker (Martinez, Calif.)
Technical Coordinator: Anton Willert (Berlin, Germany)
Assistant Coach: Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) 
Assistant Coach: Mike Wall (Santa Barbara, Calif.)
Consultant Coach: Gary Moy (San Francisco, Calif.)
Consultant Coach: Tim Pelot (Florida)
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)
Doctor: Andrew Gregory (Nashville, Tenn.)

FIVB Men’s World Grand Champions Cup Schedule
(all times Pacific Standard)

Nov. 19
Italy def. Russia, 28-26 25-20 19-25 27-25
Brazil def. Iran, 25-16, 25-17, 25-27, 25-23
USA def. Japan, 25-17, 25-17, 21-25, 25-20

Nov. 20
Iran def. Italy, 26-24, 16-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-12  
Brazil def. USA, 31-29, 25-23, 25-23
Russia def. Japan, 25-16, 25-17, 25-18

Nov. 22 
USA def. Italy, 25-21, 20-25, 22-25, 28-26, 15-13
Russia def. Iran, 25-23, 25-23, 25-19
Brazil def. Japan, 25-17, 25-23, 25-18

Nov. 23
Iran def. USA, 28-26, 19-25, 19-25, 27-25, 18-16
Russia def. Brazil, 20-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-17, 15-9
Italy def. Japan, 25-16, 25-21, 25-21

Nov. 24
Brazil def. Italy, 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 20-25, 15-11
Russia def. USA, 29-27, 25-22, 25-19
Iran def. Japan, 25-17, 25-18, 25-14