DALLAS, Texas (July 2, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team played like a team determined to go to the FIVB World League Final Round as it beat Australia 25-14, 26-24, 25-15 on Saturday before a crowd of more than 7,000 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Arena.
The victory improves the United States to 7-1 in FIVB World League pool play and moves it into second place behind Brazil. The U.S. will play Russia (5-3) at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday in a match that will be shown live on NBC.
The top five teams in pool play advance to the World League Final Round in Krakow, Poland on July 13-17 and will play for a winning prize of $1 million.
Australia falls to 0-8 and will look for its first victory against Bulgaria (0-8) on Sunday.
Both the U.S. and Australia started some of their backup players on Saturday to give veterans a rest and help the youngsters gain experience.
The United States led in blocking (11-1), aces (10-4) and spikes (38-30).
U.S. middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati), playing in his first match since being injured during the first round of pool play in Rio de Janeiro, finished with 14 points, including a match-high four blocks and a match-high three aces.
“It felt great,” Holt said. “I missed competing so much and it’s just great to be out there with the team.
“(The round in) Italy was tough because I played in Italy for four years and I wanted to be out there. Warm-up hitting was interesting, but Micah did a really good job of finding me and then Kawika (Shoji) when he came in late in the third set.”
Opposite Murphy Troy (St. Louis, Mo.), who started in place of Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) scored 14 points, including a match-high 13 kills. Outside hitter Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) finished with 13 points.
Paul Carroll led Australia with 12 points on 11 kills and one ace.
U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said he was looking forward to Sunday’s match against Russia.
“We’ve talked about Russia a little bit earlier in the week,” Speraw said. “I think there’s a lot of familiarity with a lot of these players because a couple of our key guys have played in Russia over the professional years. But they do have a couple new guys we haven’t had an opportunity to compete against, so it’ll be interesting to get out on the volleyball court and see how we do.”
Australia led 8-6 at the first technical timeout of the first set, but the U.S. went on a 6-1 run, including two spikes from Russell, to lead 12-8 and put the set out of reach for Australia.
The second set stayed close. The U.S. reached set point first at 24-23, but Carroll fought it off with an attack. Russell and Holt came back with two blocks in a row to give the U.S. the 26-24 victory.
The third set was tied 7-7 when Team USA scored five straight points to take a commanding lead. The third set included an impressive play by Australia’s Lincoln Williams, who hopped the barrier to make a pass, then got back into the match with a successful attack.
U.S. Starters vs. Australia
Outside Hitters: Thomas Jaeschke and Aaron Russell
Middle Blockers: Max Holt and David Smith
Opposite: Murphy Troy
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji
U.S. Statistics vs. Australia
Kills: Troy 13, Russell 12, Holt 7, Jaeschke 3, Smith 3
Blocks: Holt 4, Smith 2, Christenson 2, Jaeschke 2, Russell 1
Aces: Holt 3, Christenson 2, Jaeschke 2, Smith 1, Kawika Shoji 1, Troy 1
Digs: Erik Shoji 8, Jaeschke 5, Russell 5, Smith 4, Troy 3, Christenson 3, Holt 1