COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 21, 2018) – The U.S. Men’s National Team improved its record at the FIVB World Championship to 6-0 on Friday with a 25-17, 25-14, 21-25, 25-17 win over Canada in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The U.S. Men will face host Bulgaria (3-2 before its Friday match against Iran), and a no-doubt raucous home crowd, on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. PT. All matches will be shown on Flovolleyball.tv, a subscription service chosen by the FIVB. FloVolleyball.tv is offering a 20 percent discount this month.
“I hope and expect a full gym,” U.S. setter Micah Christenson said of the battle with Bulgaria. “I hope we can play the best volleyball we can for the fans and I hope we can continue to get better as the tournament goes on.”
The U.S. Men were well prepared for their match against Canada. The U.S. beat Canada 3-1 at the Ljubljana Challenge, a pre-Worlds warmup tournament in Slovenia, although the U.S. used primarily bench players for that match.
On Friday, the U.S. Men won the serve-and-pass battle, leading Canada in kills (62-35), blocks (11-6) and aces (5-2). Canada scored 30 points on U.S. errors while committing 18.
Christenson set the U.S. to a .528 hitting efficiency while Canada hit .289. Canada has been playing at Worlds without usual starting setter T.J. Sanders and has been starting Jay Blankeneau.
At the other middle blocker spot, U.S. Head Coach John Speraw started Dan McDonnell each set, but would rotate in David Smith as well.
“I was really pleased with the overall team effort tonight,” Speraw said. “I even platooned David Smith and Dan McDonnell. I wanted to get Dan’s jump serve going because it’s been so effective. And he came right out and set the tone for the match.”
McDonnell served the U.S. to a 6-0 lead in the second set, including an ace.
U.S. opposite Matt Anderson led all scorers with 22 points on a match-high 20 kills (.667) and two aces. Outside hitter Aaron Russell added 17 points on 15 kills (.593) and two blocks.
Middle blocker Max Holt scored 14 points on a match-high four blocks, two aces and eight kills. Outside hitter Taylor Sander totaled 13 points on 10 kills and three blocks.
McDonnell scored three points and Smith finished with six. Christenson also scored three points.
Outside hitter Gordon Perrin led Canada with 17 points.
“Of course we are disappointed today,” Canada’s Coach Stephane Antiga said. “It was very different than against Brazil or France (in round 1), where we had opportunities, and we were sometimes very close and missed our chances. Tonight was different, except in the third set where we played well, and served and received better. But the three other sets – the U.S. were just dominating, and much stronger. We were not even close.”
The U.S. Men dominated the first two sets against Canada, but fell behind 16-12 in the third as it struggled a bit with errors. The U.S. came back strong in the fourth set, jumping out to an 11-4 lead and cruising to the win.
U.S. STARTERS VS CANADA
Outside hitters: Taylor Sander and Aaron Russell
Middle blockers: Max Holt and Dan McDonnell
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji
Substitute: David Smith (MB)
U.S. STATISTICS VS CANADA
Kills: Anderson 20, Russell 15, Sander 10, Holt 8, Smith 5, McDonnell 2, Christenson 2
Blocks: Holt 4, Sander 3, Russell 2, Smith 1, Christenson 1
Aces: Anderson 2, Holt 2, McDonnell 1
Digs: Sander 13, Anderson 8, E Shoji 7, Russell 7, Christenson 6, McDonnell 2, Holt 2