COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 13, 2018) – In case there were doubts, the U.S. Men’s National Team learned definitively on Thursday that there will be no easy matches at the FIVB World Championship.

The U.S. Men, ranked No. 2 in the world, got a scare from No. 16 Australia, but pulled out the five-set win, 25-21, 25-20, 22-25, 23-25, 15-10 in Bari, Italy.

The U.S. Men (2-0) will get Friday off before facing world No. 4 Russia (1-0), the winner of the 2018 Volleyball Nations League, on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. PT.

“We didn’t play that great against Serbia yesterday,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “I just think we’ve got better volleyball ahead of us. We’re definitely not peaking early.”

After winning the first two sets, the U.S. Men’s struggled with their transition offense in the third and fourth.

Australian opposite Lincoln Williams, who substituted for starter Paul Carroll in the second set, took over for the “Volleyroos” and led all scorers with 21 points on 19 kills and two aces. Outside hitter Max Staples, who substituted for Sam Walker, was Australia’s second-leading scorer with 12 points.

“Williams came in and had a great match for them,” Speraw said. “He really turned it around for them.”

The U.S. Men led in kills (60-52) and aces (7-3) and Australia led in blocks (10-4). The teams were close to even in unforced errors with the U.S. scoring on 38 Australia errors while committing 37.

Speraw started the same team he started against Serbia. He brought in Jeff Jendryk, Dan McDonnell and Ben Patch to substitute in the third and fourth,sets, but by the end of the fourth set the starters were all back playing

Opposite Matt Anderson led the U.S. scoring with 20 points on 18 kills and two aces. Outside hitter Taylor Sander added 16 points on 16 kills. Outside hitter Aaron Russell scored 14 points on 14 kills.

“Today was difficult,” Sander said. “It was difficult after last night because we went five sets. It was a hard match. Australia brought in some new players who had a lot of energy.

“They had more energy than us and they were able to take two sets off us. We need to get better.”

Outside hitters: Taylor Sander and Aaron Russell
Middle blockers: Max Holt and Taylor Averill
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji
Substitutes: Dan McDonnell (MB), Jeff Jendryk (MB), Ben Patch (Opp)

Kills: Anderson 18, Sander 16, Russell 14, Holt 6, McDonnell 3, Averill 2, Jendryk 1
Blocks: Averill 2, Holt 1, Christenson 1
Aces: Christenson 3, Averill 2, Anderson 2
Digs: Christenson 12, Sander 11, Anderson 10, E Shoji 10, Russell 5, Holt 3, Averill 3, Patch 1