KRAKOW, Poland (July 15, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team saw its hopes of advancing to the semifinals of the FIVB World League fade away with a 24-26, 21-25, 28-26, 25-21, 15-12 loss to Brazil on Friday at Tauron Arena.
The U.S. Men finish World League with an 8-3 record overall and a sixth-place finish. On Saturday, Serbia will play Italy in one semifinal while France will play Brazil in the other.
The United States went into Friday’s match knowing it needed a three points to beat Italy and advance to the semifinals. That meant it had to beat Brazil, 3-0 or 3-1.
“(Brazil) put out mostly reserve (players) and they played at a very high level,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “I thought that we played with much better enthusiasm ourselves, but we just didn’t execute. We truly have not executed at a level we would wish for most of the summer.
“We’re going to have to take this break before the Olympic Games and evaluate, regroup and train as hard as we can to come back and play at a level we have been at the last two summers.”
After the U.S. had won the first two sets, the match came down to the final points of the third.
With Brazil leading 23-20, U.S. setter Micah Christenson dumped the ball and middle blocker David Lee followed by blocking Brazil’s Eder Carbonera.
Outside hitter Taylor Sander’s attack on the next play looked like it went out of bounds, but a challenge by Speraw showed it had been touched. With the score now tied 23-23, middle blocker Max Holt’s serve was called out of bounds. But another Speraw challenge found it had nicked the line for an ace and gave the U.S. match point.
But it was not to be as Carbonera came back with a kill to tie the score. The U.S. took a second match point at 26-25 on opposite Matt Anderson’s kill. But the next U.S. serve went out of bounds and Brazil followed with an ace and a block to win the set.
“It came down to the third set; just not executing from the service line,” Lee said. “We’re sad. We thought we were going to pass through to the final four to get to play some of the best teams in the world to help us on our way to the Olympic Games.”
The U.S. led the fifth set, 12-9, but then committed two straight errors. Brazil responded with an attack and two straight blocks to lead 13-12. The U.S. committed another attack error and Brazil had a final block to win the match.
The U.S. led Brazil in kills, 67-59 and tied in blocks, 11-11. Brazil led in aces 9-6. For a second straight match, the U.S. struggled with errors, committing 34 scoring errors while Brazil had 26.
Anderson started only the first three sets of the match but still led the U.S. in scoring with 21 points on 17 kills, three blocks and one ace. Sander added 11 points on 10 kills and one block.
Brazil’s Evandro Guerra led all scorers with 25 points.
2016 U.S. Schedule for the FIVB World League
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
June 16: USA def Argentina, 26-24, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22
June 17: USA def Iran, 23-25, 25-13, 27-25, 26-24
June 18: Brazil USA, 25-15, 25-13, 22-25, 25-22
June 24: USA def Belgium, 17-25, 25-20, 25-21, 21-25, 15-10
June 25: USA def Australia, 20-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-20
June 26: USA v Italy, 25-22, 25-23, 25-23
July 1: USA def Bulgaria, 23-25, 25-21, 27-25, 25-21
July 2: USA def Australia, 25-14, 26-24, 25-15
July 3: USA def Russia, 35-33, 25-17, 25-21
Final Round in Krakow, Poland
July 14: Italy def USA, 25-22, 27-25, 26-28, 25-21
July 15: USA vs Brazil at 2:20 p.m. ET