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U.S. Men Make it Past Russia

By B.J. Evans | June 05, 2015, 11 p.m. (ET)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (June 5, 2015) – The U.S. Men overcame a scrappy Russian squad and their own mistakes to win their third-straight 2015 FIVB World League match in a row, 25-18, 24-26, 25-15, 28-26 on Friday at the Walter Pyramid.

The teams will play again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Walter Pyramid. The United States is the defending champion of World League, which is the premier international men’s volleyball tournament. Teams play six weekends of pool play in hopes of qualifying for the Final Round and a check for $1 million.

In a match that saw the U.S. score 30 points on Russian errors and Russia score 34 points on U.S. miscues, one highlight was the World League debut of Thomas Jaeschke, the 2015 AVCA Player of the Year who still has one season left at Loyola of Chicago.

DataVolley Statistics | Official Statistics | World League Event Page

Jaeschke started the second set for outside hitter Aaron Russell and made an impact both by scoring nine points and with his strong receptions.

“I was so excited. I knew the opportunity was just huge,” Jaeschke said about learning he would be playing his first World League match. “I’m new to wearing this USA jersey. It’s a huge honor. To compete, especially against a team like Russia, a really good team, is awesome for me.”

The match opened with a nice moment as technical difficulties kept the national anthems from playing. First the Russian team sang their anthem, then the U.S. Men led the crowd in singing their National Anthem.

Another nice moment came in the third set when middle blocker David Lee, who played for Long Beach State where the Pyramid is located, was brought in to serve with the U.S. leading 20-15 and served for the final five points.

U.S. opposite Murphy Troy led all scorers with 16 points on 14 kills and two aces. Outside hitter Matt Anderson and middle blocker Max Holt added 15 points each. Pavel Moroz led Russia with 14 points on 12 kills, one block and one ace.

The U.S. led in kills (51-41), blocks (11-4) and aces (10-6).

After winning the third set with relative ease, the U.S. Men took match point at 24-23 in the fourth on a kill by Jaeschke. Russia fought it off with a kill from Alexey Spiridonov, then took set point at 25-24 on a block by Dmitriy Illinykh. The U.S. called timeout and Russia’s next serve went into the net. The next U.S. serve also went into the net, giving Russia set point at 26-25. But Russia’s hitting error tied the score at 26-26.

Anderson scored his 15th point of the match with a cross-court kill and David Smith won the match for the U.S. with a block.

“I don’t think either team was as happy as they would like with the level of play,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “I am very happy with the win, but I think we need to continue to learn how to improve and what we need to do to improve. Both teams are going to have to play better volleyball in World League if we have a hope of moving on.”

Friday's starting lineup:
Outside hitter: Matt Anderson and Aaron Russell
Middle blocker: Max Holt and David Smith
Opposite: Murphy Troy
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji

Friday's stats:
Points: Troy 16, Anderson 15, Holt 15, Smith 10, Jaeschke 9, Christenson 3, Russell 3, Lee 1
Kills: Murphy 14, Anderson 12, Holt 9, Jaeschke 7, Smith 6, Russell 1, Christenson 1, Smith 1
Blocks: Holt 5, Anderson 2, Jaeschke 2, Smith 2
Aces: Christenson 2, Smith 2, Russell 2, Troy 2, Anderson 1, Holt 1
Digs: Anderson 7, Troy 5, Christenson, 5, Shoji 5, Smith 3, Russell 2, Holt 2

No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (OH/OPP, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2. Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State)
4. David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
6. Paul Lot man (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 (Pop, 6-8, St. Louis, Mo., Southern California)
10. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
12. Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
15. Carson Clark (Pop, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
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: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock

2015 FIVB World League
Galen Center in Los Angeles
May 30: USA d Iran, 25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 25-23
May 31: USA d Iran, 25-16, 25-16, 20-25, 25-20

Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif.                             
June 5: USA d Russia, 25-18, 24-26, 25-15, 28-26
June 6: USA v Russia, 7 p.m. PT

Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
June 12: USA v Poland, 7 p.m. CT
June 13: USA v Poland, 7 p.m. CT

Tehran, Iran
June 19: USA at Iran
June 21: USA at Iran

Kaliningrad, Russia
June 26: USA at Russia
June 28: USA at Russia
Krakow, Poland
July 3: USA at Poland
July 4: USA at Poland

July 15-19: World League Final Round (Must Qualify)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil