EBOLI, Italy (July 8, 2019) – The U.S. Men’s Collegiate National Team (MCNT – WUG) suffered its first loss of the 2019 World University Games Monday as it fell to Russia 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-19) at PalaSele in Eboli, Italy.
“Unbelievable experience for our guys to take the court against a very experienced Russian volleyball squad,” said Ryan Perrotte, head coach of MCNT – WUG. “Several of the Russians are going to be and have played in the Olympic Games, so it was really good for our guys to see that type of caliber, the different serving and passing.”
Russia got an early jump on the U.S. in both the first and second sets, but the Americans battled in the third. They took their first lead of the match at 2-3 with a Russian error, and they also led a couple more times in the frame. In fact, a four-point run in the middle of the frame gave the U.S. a 13-15 lead, but the Russians closed on a 12-4 run, clinching the set and the match.
“It was a great experience to come in and play against a lot of pro players and some players who are going to play on the Olympic team,” said MCNT – WUG’s Chandler Gibb, who is also a setter at Concordia University Irvine. “We did a good job touching a lot of balls on the block, and we sided out alright against them. The first two sets were pretty tough, and then we started getting into a grove in the third set. They were definitely a good team, hit the ball really well and played some good international volleyball.”
Opposite Jaylen Jasper led the U.S. with six points, all from kills, and both Ethan Siegfried and Brett Wildman contributed five points: four on the attack and one service ace apiece. Middle blocker Tyler Mitchem added four kills, and fellow middle Blake Leeson added three.
In all, the Americans scored 25 points on 62 attacks for a .403 scoring percentage. Russia countered with 35 points on 61 attacks, a .574 mark.
Siegfried also attempted 19 service receptions, leading the entire match. Libero Michael Simmons added 17, also more than any Russian player, and Wildman reached double digits with 12.
With the loss, the U.S. falls to 2-1 at the 2019 Summer Universiade. They are third in Group B with four points, two behind second-place Portugal, who is also 2-1. Russia has clinched the group title with a perfect 4-0 record and 12 points while China and South Korea are tied for fourth at one point apiece.
The U.S. and Portugal will battle for second place on Tuesday, July 9, at PalaTedeschi in Benevento, Italy. First serve for that contest is schedule for 2:30 p.m. local/8:30 a.m. Eastern. The winner of this match will clinch second place in the group and advance to the championship quarterfinals bracket.
“Hopefully we can have a really good bounce-back match against Portugal tomorrow,” Perrotte said. “But I give our guys credit. They hung in, they really fought that third set to make it close against a really good Russian team.”