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U.S. Men Hand Poland First Worlds Loss

By BJ Evans | Sept. 10, 2014, 8:15 p.m. (ET)

ŁODZ, Poland (Sept. 10, 2014) – The U.S. Men’s National Team handed host Poland its first loss of the 2014 FIVB World Championship and stunned a crowd of 10,600 on Wednesday with a 29-27, 25-22, 25-27, 25-23 victory at Atlas Arena.

U.S. Men's National Team
  From left, Paul Lotman, Max Holt, Micah Christenson and
  Erik Shoji celebrate against Poland on Wednesday.

The 3-1 victory gave the U.S. Men three points, but they remain fifth in Pool E with seven points. Poland, which went into the match leading the pool, fell to second with nine points. France now leads the pool with 10 points. The U.S. Men will play third-place Serbia at 10:40 a.m. ET on Thursday. (U.S. World Championship matches are being shown LIVE on BeIN Sports TV and online. Check your local listings for more information.)

In the first round of the World Championship, the U.S. Men at times struggled with serve reception and passing. But U.S. Head Coach John Speraw (Los Angeles) was happy with the way the team handled those elements on Wednesday.

“I think we did a really good job,” Speraw said. “I was concerned about a couple things that other teams have exploited against us. We’ve trained for it, even in the brief moments we’ve had to work on it. I think we improved that.”

U.S. libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii) was credited with a match-high 17 digs as well as six excellent receptions. Outside hitter Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) led the U.S. with seven excellent receptions and no faults. Setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu) was credited with 15 digs and 40 excellent sets with no faults in either category.

“We knew that they had some great servers, especially float servers,” Shoji said. “Mariusz Wlazly, the opposite, is an amazing jump server. We knew we really had to focus on that.

“I think we had a few really good days of practice focusing on tough jump serves and tough float serves.”

Speraw was happy with the way the U.S. Men handled Wlazly.

“I think we did just an excellent job with him tonight,” Speraw said. “I think Erik Shoji had a great night. I think Taylor Sander passed a couple or really difficult balls. (Wlazly) is a guy who has been scoring about 50 percent of the time and he did not do that tonight. I think that was a key element of the match.”

Wlazly, who led Poland in scoring, was held to 17 points on 16 kills and one block with a .414 hitting efficiency.

U.S. outside hitter Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.) led all scorers with 23 points on 19 kills, three blocks and one ace. Opposite Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) added 21 points on a match-high 20 kills and one block. Middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) scored 15 points on 10 attacks, three blocks and a match-high two aces.

The U.S. Men led in kills (61-50), blocks (14-11), aces (4-2) and digs (63-45). However, the match was not flawless as the U.S. Men had 23 service errors on 103 attempts and had a .320 hitting efficiency. Poland had 17 service errors on 100 attempts and a .292 hitting efficiency.

“I think both coaches probably felt like their teams could play better,” Speraw said. “Maybe neither team was at its very best, but both teams played hard and you saw a great match as a result.”

Among other U.S. scorers, middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) scored 11 points on eight kills and three blocks. Christenson finished with five points on three blocks, one kill and one ace. Lotman had four points on three kills and one block.

Though the U.S. Men were excited about the important victory in front of so many cheering Polish fans, including Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Team Captain David Lee did not want to do too much celebrating.

“I think we’re going to move on pretty quickly… We play in just a few hours,” Lee said. “We know (Serbia) well. I think if we can continue to play like we are playing now, we should be OK.” 

U.S. Roster for the FIVB World Championship
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College) 
1. Matt Anderson (OH/Opp, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State) 
3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
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)
10. Tony Ciarelli (OH, 6-6, Huntington Beach, Calif., USC)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California) 
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
19. Alfee Reft (L, 5-10, Oxnard, Calif., Hawaii)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
21. Nick Vogel (MB, 6-9, San Diego, Calif., UCLA)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Manager: Andrea Becker 
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Technical Coordinator: Anton Willert
Consultant Coaches: Tyler Hildebrand, Kathy DeBoer, Tim Pelot 
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock 
Doctors: David Dyck and Christopher Lee

2014 FIVB Men’s World Championship
Schedule and Results

First Round
Pool D (Top four advance)
France (4-1; 12 points)
Iran (4-1; 11 points)
USA (3-2; 9 points)
Italy (2-3; 5 points)
Belgium (1-4; 5 points)
Puerto Rico (1-4; 3 points)

2014 FIVB World Championship Schedule – Pool D
Kraków, Poland (all times ET)
View the entire World Championship schedule

Aug. 31
Iran def Italy, 25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 25-22
USA def Belgium, 25-21, 17-25, 25-16, 21-25
France def Puerto Rico, 25-23, 25-22, 26-24

Sept. 2
Iran def USA, 25-23, 25-19, 19-25, 18-25, 17-15
Belgium def Puerto Rico, 25-19, 25-17, 25-20
Italy def France, 20-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-13, 15-12                     

Sept. 4
USA def Puerto Rico, 25-15, 25-8, 25-20
France def Iran, 25-18, 14-25, 25-19, 29-27
Italy def Belgium, 26-28, 25-15, 25-16, 28-26

Sept. 6
France def USA, 19-25, 25-17, 25-15, 25-21
Iran def Belgium, 25-23, 25-15, 21-25, 25-20
Puerto Rico def Italy, 19-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-22

Sept. 7
France def Belgium, 25-14, 21-25, 25-20, 22-25, 15-12
Iran def Puerto Rico, 25-17, 25-22, 25-14
USA def Italy, 25-18, 25-20, 23-25, 25-17

Second Round (Top three advance)
Pool E
France (10 pts; 3-1)
Poland (9 pts; 3-1)
Serbia (9 pts; 3-1)
Iran (8 pts; 3-1)
USA (7 pts; 2-2)
Argentina (3 pts; 1-3)
Italy (2 pts; 1-4)
Australia (0 pts; 0-4)

Łódź (All times ET)
Sept. 10
USA def Poland, 29-27, 25-22, 25-27, 25-23 
Sept. 11
10:30 a.m. USA v Serbia

Bydgoszcz (All times ET)
Sept. 13
2:15 p.m. USA v Australia
Sept. 14
10:30 a.m. USA v Argentina

Third Round: Sept. 16-19 in Łódź or Katowice
Final Round: Sept. 20-21 in Łódź or Katowice

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