COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 7, 2018) – The U.S. Men’s National Team came back from a 20-23 deficit in the fourth set to defeat Canada, 25-20, 25-22, 12-25, 25-23 on Friday at the Ljubljana Volleyball Challenge in Slovenia.

The U.S. Men (2-0) will play Slovenia (1-0) on Saturday at 9 a.m. PT. Teams are using the tournament as a warmup for the FIVB World Championship, which begins on Sept. 9, although the United States’ first pool play match will be Sept. 12.

The U.S. Men went with a second-team squad against Canada. The U.S. hitting efficiency behind setter Kawika Shoji was .311 while Canada hit .278 behind setter T.J. Sanders.

Canada led in aces (4-3) and each team had 15 service errors. Canada also led in blocks (8-7) and kills (50-44). But Canada had 18 attack errors as opposite to 11 for the U.S.

U.S. opposite Ben Patch led all scorers with 19 points on a match-high 18 kills (.500 efficiency) and one block. Outside hitter Jake Langlois added 13 points on a match-high five blocks and eight kills.

“The World Championship is going to take the whole team, so it’s important that every guy on our team gets an opportunity to play and gets competitive repetition,” Patch told the Slovenian Federation. “It’s a good preparation for the next competition.”

Outside hitter Brenden Sander, who is with the U.S. Men only for the Ljubljana Challenge but will not compete at the FIVB World Championship, scored 12 points on 10 kills and two aces.

Middle blocker Dan McDonnell scored five points, middle blocker Jeff Jendryk added three and David Smith and Kawika Shoji each scored once.

Outside hitter Stephen Maar led Canada with 16 points on 12 kills, two blocks and two aces.

After losing the first two sets, Canada took out starting setter T.J. Sanders for Jay Blankenau and brought in outside hitter Stephen Maar and middle blocker Arthur Szwarc. The U.S. Men fell behind in the third set, 15-7. Speraw brought middle blocker Smith in for starter Jendryk, but Canada continued its tough attacking and blocking to win the set.

Canada took an 11-5 lead in the fourth set and led 16-8 at the second technical timeout. The U.S. used a 5-1 run, including a block from Smith, to pull to within four at 17-13. With Canada leading 22-18, the U.S. scored twice on Canada errors. Canada scored on an attack to make it 23-20. Brenden Sander came back with a kill that gave McDonnell the serve. Patch tied the score at 23-23 with a kill. A Canada error gave the U.S. set point and McDonnell ended things with an ace.

Outside hitters: Jake Langlois and Brenden Sander
Middle blockers: Jeff Jendryk and Dan McDonnell
Opposite: Ben Patch
Setter: Kawika Shoji
Libero: Dustin Watten
Substitute: David Smith (MB)

Kills: Patch 18, B Sander 10, Langlois 8, McDonnell 4, Jendryk 3, K Shoji 1
Blocks: Langlois 5, Smith 1, Patch 1
Aces: B Sander 2, McDonnell 1
Digs: Watten 12, Patch 12, K Shoji 9, Langlois 8, B Sander 7, McDonnell 3, Jendryk 1, Smith 1