COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 5, 2017) – At the edge of elimination, the U.S. Men’s National Team found a way to win yet another match in the FIVB World League Final Round on Wednesday and will advance to Friday’s semifinal.

The U.S. Men bounced back from a 3-2 loss to France to defeat Serbia on Wednesday, 25-22, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22 in Curitiba, Brazil. France and Serbia will play Thursday to determine which will advance to the semifinals.

Although the United States’ five-set loss to France on Tuesday was disappointing, it also gave the U.S. one point toward a tie-breaker. If Serbia were to beat France on Thursday, giving all three teams 1-1 records, the United States’ four points would still be good enough to advance.

“The best thing about our team is our composure, our togetherness,” Team Captain Kawika Shoji told the FIVB. “There was no panic (after the loss to France). We knew our destiny was in our hands.”

The match came down to the fourth set. The U.S. Men trailed 16-14 at the technical timeout. Back on the court, Taylor Sander connected on a back-row attack, giving the serve to Thomas Jaeschke, whose strong serving kept Serbia out of system. Sander scored on another kill off the block to tie the score and the Serbia hit the ball outside the antenna to give the U.S. a 17-16 lead. On the next play, Serbia’s block of Sander went to the back of the court. The ball was called out, and a challenge replay showed it was out by millimeters. The U.S. took an 18-16 lead and did not trail again.

Sander led all scorers with 22 points on a match-high 18 kills (.517 hitting efficiency), a match-high three aces and one block. Jaeschke, who didn’t play at all in World League pool play due to injury, added 14 points on 13 kills and one ace. Opposite Ben Patch led the team in blocks with three.

The U.S. Men led in kills (56-47) while the teams tied in blocks (10-10) and aces (5-5). The U.S. scored on 30 of Serbia’s errors while committing 23. The U.S. hitting efficiency behind setter Micah Christenson was .345. Serbia hit .316.

Libero Erik Shoji was credited with 12 digs and 21 excellent receptions.

“It’s always interesting to see how your team is going to respond after you have a disappointing loss 24 hours earlier,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “I was most pleased with how we came out early in the match and had a really good first set and how we held on when Serbia made a nice run to come back. I think that set a good tone for us.

“I just felt real proud of our guys and the way they responded in the latter part of the fourth set.”


U.S. Men’s Starters vs. Serbia
Outsides: Taylor Sander and Thomas Jaeschke
Middles: David Smith and Jeff Jendryk
Setter: Micah Christenson
Opposite: Ben Patch
Libero: Erik Shoji

U.S. Men’s Statistics vs. Serbia
Kills: Sander 18, Jaeschke 13, Patch 8, Smith 6, McDonnell 4, T.J, DeFalco 2, Jeff Jendryk 2, Carson Clark 2, Micah Christenson 1
Blocks: Patch 3, Christenson 2, McDonnell 2, Jendryk 1, Sander 1, Smith 1
Aces: Sander 3, Jaeschke 1, Smith 1

2017 FIVB World League Final Round
July 4-8 in Curitiba, Brazil
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)
10. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
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

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 Round pool playBrazil def Canada, 25-21, 17-25, 25-19, 25-19Curitiba, BrazilJuly 4, 2 p.m. on Universal HD
July 4Final Round pool playFrance def USA, 27-25, 20-25, 26-24, 17-25, 15-12Curitiba, BrazilJuly 4, 4:40 p.m. on UniHD
July 5Final Round pool playCanada def Russia, 25-23, 29-27, 25-17Curitiba, BrazilJuly 5, 2 p.m. on UniHD
July 5Final Round pool playUSA def Serbia, 25-22, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22Curitiba, BrazilJuly 5, 4:30 p.m. on UniHD
July 6Final Round pool playBrazil def Russia, 25-18, 18-25, 25-19, 22-25, 16-14Curitiba, BrazilJuly 6, 2 p.m. on UniHD
July 6Final Round pool playFrance def Serbia, 25-21, 25-20, 17-25, 18-25, 15-11Curitiba, BrazilJuly 6, 4;30 on UniHD
July 7SemifinalsBrazil vs USACuritiba, BrazilJuly 7 at 2 p.m. on UniHD
July 7SemifinalsFrance vs CanadaCuritiba, BrazilJuly 7 at 4:30 on UniHD