COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 18, 2017) – It came down to the last match on the last day, but the U.S. Men’s National Team found a way to qualify for the Final Round of the 2017 FIVB World League.

The U.S. Men’s National Team closed out FIVB World League pool play on Sunday by defeating host Poland, 26-31, 25-17, 27-25, 25-20 in Lodz.

Then they waited for the last match of the day, which saw Argentina beat Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s loss meant the United States (4-5) finished sixth in pool play, advancing it to the Final Round on July 4-8 in Curitiba, Brazil.

The U.S. Men opened World League at 0-3, but put together wins over Italy, Russia, Iran and Poland to get enough wins to advance. The U.S. finished just ahead of Belgium with the same record and points, but had a better set ratio (1.87) than Belgium (.947)

While the U.S. and Poland finished tied in attacks (48-48), the U.S. Men led in blocks (13-5) and aces (8-7). Also, after committing 17 errors in the first set, the U.S. Men ended up with a total of 35 errors while Poland committed 37.

Outside hitter Taylor Sander led all scorers with 17 points on 10 kills, four blocks and three aces. Middle blocker Jeff Jendryk added 13 points on nine kills and four blocks.

Opposite Carson Clark, who started for the first time since first match of pool play and was named the match MVP against Poland, finished with 12 points on 12 kills.

The award was particularly sweet for Clark, who has not been able to play with the U.S. Men for two years.

“It was difficult for me,” Clark told the FIVB. “I’ve been injured for two years. Ben Patch has been playing amazing and I have been happy to watch him. But being able to get my chance was amazing.”

Middle blocker David Smith scored 11 points on six kills, two blocks and three aces. Setter Micah Christenson had two blocks and set the U.S. Men to a .286 hitting efficiency. Poland hit .141. Libero Erik Shoji was credited with five digs and 11 excellent receptions.

The United States also got a good performance off the bench from outside hitter Garrett Muagututia, who took over for T.J. DeFalco, and Kawika Shoji, who scored an ace as a serving substitute.

U.S. Starters vs. Russia
Outside hitters: Taylor Sander and T.J. DeFalco
Middle blockers: David Smith and Jeff Jendryk
Opposite: Carson Clark
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji

U.S. Statistics vs. Russia
Kills: Clark 12, Sander 10, Jendryk 9, Muagututia 8, Smith 6, DeFalco 2
Blocks: Sander 4, Jendryk 4, Christenson 2, Smith 2, Muagututia 1
Aces: Sander 3, Smith 3, Muagututia 1, Kawika Shoji 1
Digs: Sander 11, Christenson 9, Smith 7, Muagututia 6, Clark 5, Erik Shoji 5, K. Shoji 1, Jendryk 1

2017 FIVB World League
June 17-18 in Lodz, Poland

U.S. Men’s Roster

3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
7C. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
9. Jake Langlois (OH, 6-10, San Jose, Calif., BYU)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
13. Dan McDonnell (MB, 6-6, Glendale, Ariz., UC Irvine)
14. Ben Patch (Opp, 6-8, Provo, Utah, BYU)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. TJ DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
19. Taylor Averill (MB, 6-7, San Jose, Calif., Hawaii)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
21. Dustin Watten (L, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Leader: Mike Wall
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Robert Neilson
Sports Psychologist: Andrea Becker
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Strength Coach: Tim Pelot
Consultant Coach: Anton Brams

TV Schedule and Results

Date and OpponentResultLocationTV (all times EDT)
June 2SerbiaL (25-18, 23-25, 25-20, 25-21)Novi Sad, SerbiaJune 2: 9:30-11:30 p.m. NBCSN
June 3CanadaL (23-25, 25-19,18-25, 25-23, 15-11)Novi Sad, SerbiaJune 3: 3-5 p.m. NBCSN
June 4BelgiumL (25-23, 25-16, 22-25, 28-26)Novi Sad, SerbiaJune 4: 6-8 p.m. UniHD
June 9ItalyW (25-22, 25-23, 25-23)Pau, FranceJune 9: 6-8 p.m. NBCSN
June 10RussiaW (25-20, 25-22, 25-22)Pau, FranceJune 10: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. UniHD
June 11FranceL (25-20, 18-25, 25-22, 25-21)Pau, FranceJune 11: 3-4:30 p.m. NBCSN
June 15IranW (25-17, 25-22, 30-28)Katowice, PolandJune 15: 12-2 p.m.. NBCSN
June 17RussiaL (31-29, 17-25, 25-19, 27-29, 15-13)Lodz, PolandJune 17: 6:30-8:30 p.m. NBCSN
June 18PolandW (26-31, 25-17, 27-25, 25-20)Lodz, PolandJune 18: 6-8 p.m. NBCSN
July 4Final RoundCuritiba, BrazilTBD: UniHD
July 5Final RoundCuritiba, BrazilTBD: UniHD
July 6Final RoundCuritiba, BrazilTBD: UniHD
July 7Final RoundCuritiba, BrazilTBD: UniHD