ROME, Italy (June 25, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team tightened up its middle attack and beat the team from Down Under, 20-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-20 on Saturday at the Pala Lottomatica in Rome.
The victory improves the U.S. record to 4-1 while Australia falls to 0-5. The U.S. Men will finish their three-match series in Rome against host Italy (4-1) on Sunday.
Opposite Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) led the U.S. with 18 points on 11 kills, a match-high three blocks and a team-high four aces.
“We’re passing really well, we’re serving strong and our blocking defense is doing good things for us,” Anderson said. “I think our transition needs to be a little bit better. But it comes down to our offense.”
The U.S. Men got good offensive production from its back-row attacks and quick sets to the middle blockers. As a team, the U.S. hit .584 behind setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii).
“We were really good from the middle of the court,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw< said. “For both your middles to hit over .900 is a really good night.
“I like the fact that the middle of the court was better tonight. That’s been a strength of ours. For us to get our BIQ and our quick hitting at a high level I think will be important for us down the stretch.”
Middle blocker David Smith (Saugus, Calif.) scored 14 points on 11 kills and two aces. Middle blocker Dan McDonnell (Glendale, Ariz.), making his World League debut, added 11 points on 11 attacks.
Libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii) was credited with 13 digs.
Paul Carroll led Australia with 20 points on 19 kills and one ace.
Australia benefitted from a strong first-set serving run by Jordan Richards that took it from a 19-17 lead to a 22-17 advantage. Strong serving from Richards and teammate Nathan Roberts helped Australia to a 9-3 lead in the third set. But with Australia leading 11-5, McDonnell got the serve and held it until the U.S. led 12-11. The U.S. Men went on to win the set and the fourth.
Starters vs. Australia
Outside Hitters: Reid Priddy and Thomas Jaeschke
Middle Blockers: David Smith and Dan McDonnell
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji
Statistics vs. Australia
Kills: Reid Priddy 14, Matt Anderson 11, Dan McDonnell 11, David Smith 11, Thomas Jaeschke 9, Micah Christenson 1
Blocks: Anderson 3, Christenson 1, Jaeschke 1, Smith 1, Priddy 1
Aces: Anderson 4, Smith 2, Jaeschke 1
Digs: Erik Shoji 13, Christenson 5, Anderson 5, Priddy 5, Jaeschke 2, McDonnell 1