COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 10, 2017) – The U.S. Men’s National Team got 15 points each from veteran Taylor Sander and rookie Ben Patch in a 25-20, 25-22, 25-22 win over Russia in an FIVB World League match on Saturday in Pau, France.

After going 0-3 in the first round of pool play, the U.S. Men have won their last two matches and have moved up to sixth place in the standings. They must face undefeated France (5-0) at 9:30 a.m. PT on Sunday.

Outside hitter Sander scored 15 points on 14 kills and one ace along with making some key defensive plays while opposite Patch scored on 13 kills and two blocks against an inexperienced Russian team.

“Last week didn’t go as we hoped,” Patch told the FIVB. “But it taught us to keep working hard. It taught us to be positive and work together. We’re just having fun playing volleyball and getting better.”

The U.S. out-hit Russia, 48-26 and led in aces 7-4. The United States also scored 26 points off Russia’s errors while committing 14. Russia led in blocks 8-4.

“It was hot in there today and we may have been a bit lethargic at times,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw told the French volleyball federation. “We stayed poised, especially late in sets when Russia continued to make some plays and push a little bit even when we had leads.”

Setter Micah Christenson helped his team to a .373 hitting efficiency while Russia hit .258.

U.S. middle blockers David Smith and Dan McDonnell played big roles early in the match and each finished with six kills. Smith added a team-high three blocks. Outside hitter T.J. DeFalco scored on seven kills and one ace and made some important defensive plays in the back row as did libero Erik Shoji.

Kawika Shoji came away with two aces as a serving substitute.

Dmitry Volkov and Maxim Zhigalov led Russia with 10 points each.

The first set was tied 15-15 when DeFalco scord with a kill to give the U.S. Men the lead. That kicked off a 6-1 run that put the U.S. solidly ahead, 21-16 and Russia never recovered.

The U.S. Men jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the second set. Russia did not give up and pulled to within two at 21-19. Patch responded with a kill and Smith added a block to put the U.S. ahead 23-19. Russia scored two more times on a U.S. hitting error after a long rally and a block. But Russia followed with a service errors, a kill, and another service error to give the U.S. the set win.

The U.S. took an 8-4 lead in the third set. With the U.S. leading 10-8, Sander came up big on defense, keeping up a tough Russian serve that hit his shoulder and chin and allowing Patch to get the kill. With the United States leading 21-16, Russia went on a 3-0 run. Sander came back to score on two straight kills and the U.S. went on to win the match.

U.S. Starters vs. Russia
Outside hitter: Taylor Sander and T.J. DeFalco
Middle blocker: David Smith and Dan McDonnell
Opposite: Ben Patch
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji

U.S. Statistics vs. Russia
Kills: Patch 14, Sander 13, DeFalco 7, McDonnell 6, Smith 6, Christenson 2
Blocks: Smith 3, Sander 1
Aces: Shoji 2, Christenson 1, DeFalco 1, McDonnell 1, Patch 1, Smith 1
Digs: Patch 7, Smith 6, Sander 4, E Shoji 4, DeFalco 3, Christenson 3, McDonnell 1

2017 FIVB World League
June 9-11 in Pau, France

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 11FrancePau, FranceJune 11: 3-4:30 p.m. NBCSN
June 15IranKatowice, PolandJune 15: 12-2 p.m.. NBCSN
June 17RussiaLodz, PolandJune 17: 6:30-8:30 p.m. NBCSN
June 18PolandLodz, 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