FIVPlaying the 2nd match in as many days, this time in the Buenos Aires suburb of Villa Lynch, the result was the same: a 3-1 win for the host Argentinians.
After landing 45% of their shots on Wednesday, Argentina landed 47% on Friday, and improved their efficiency percentage from .374 to .381. Bruno Lima, who led them in scoring on Wednesday, didn’t play in Thursday’s match, and so 33-year old veteran opposite Jose Luis Gonzalez led the team with 16 points, including 11 kills (52% hitting) and 3 blocks. Facundo Conte followed up his 11 from game 1 with 14 in game 2, hitting 48% and adding a 33% excellent reception rate. Agustin Loser had 11 points, with 7 kills, 1 ace, and 3 blocks.
The US made big strides in service reception on Thursday. TJ DeFalco struggled there for the Americans in match 1, dragging the US down to just 13% excellent reception and just 36% positive reception. With him on the bench on Thursday, and Brendan Sander performing even better than he did a day earlier with 42% excellent and 65% positive, the Americans’ team metrics rose to 35% excellent and 58% positive. That was actually better than Argentina’s 33% and 53% rates in both categories.
What the Americans gained in reception, though, they gave back in service errors. After limiting themselves to 14 errors with 7 aces in game 1, they had 24 errors to 8 aces in game 2.
The exception to those service struggles was Sander, who had 3 aces and 4 errors on 8 service attempts n the match. He led Team USA overall with 16 points, recording 11 kills (50% hitting) and 2 blocks to go with his 3 service scores.
Argentina also improved its net defense. Whereas in match 1, they mustered just 3 kills, led by the 3 each from Loser and Gonzalez, they had 8 as a team in match 2 to tie the Americans.
Both teams made significant changes to their lineups for the 2nd game of the series. For the Americans, that included giving James Shaw, who is the current front-runner for American setter of the future, the start. Besides setting the team to .365 (slightly lower than the Americans’ .374 a day earlier), he contributed 6 offensive points with 2 aces and 4-for-4 hitting.
Both Shaw and Ma’a, who got the start on Wednesday, are known for their ability to score directly. Shaw, at 6’7″ tall (2.03m), has the size to surprise in fortuitous moments, while Ma’a has split time in his career between setter, outside hitter, and opposite, and so has high ‘kill’ awareness for a setter.
Positionally, Kyle Ensing, who got his biggest taste of senior ‘A” team action this summer at the Nations League, has out-performed veteran Carson Clark at this tournament. Development of more depth at opposite is one of the biggest keys to the American team heading toward the 2020 Olympics, so that battle is crucial – as indicated by the fact that the two have split time in each of the two matches.
In 3 sets played, Clark has 4 kills in 14 swings, with a .143 efficiency rate, no service aces, and no blocks. Ensing has 17 kills in 38 swings, with a .316 efficiency rate, 3 service aces, and 2 blocks.
Match 3 on Friday will move back to Morón to finish the series.
U.S. STARTERS VS ARGENTINA
Outside hitters: Brenden Sander and David Wieczorek
Middle blockers: Jeff Jendryk and Mitch Stahl
Setter: James Shaw
Opposite: Kyle Ensing
Libero: Michael Brinkley
Substitutes: Micah Ma’a (S), Kupono Fey (OH), Carson Clark (Opp), Matt Pollock (MB), Larry Tuileta (L)
U.S. STATISTICS V ARGENTINA
Kills: Sander 11, Ensing 9, Wieczorek 5, Jendryk 4, Shaw 4, Stahl 4, Clark 3, Fey 2, Pollock 2
Blocks: Wieczorek 2, Sander 2, Ensing 2, Pollock 1, Jendryk 1
Aces: Sander 3, Shaw 2, Stahl 1, Ensing 1
Digs: Shaw 12, Brinkley 9, Wieczorek 6, Ensing 5, Sander 4, Fey 4, Clark 4, Jendryk 4, Tuileta 3
U.S. Men’s Roster for Argentina Friendlies
3C Micah Ma’a (S, 6-3, Kaneohe, Hawaii, UCLA)
4 Kupono Fey (OH, 6-5, Honolulu, Hawaii, Univ. of Hawaii)
5 James Shaw (S, 6-8, Woodside, Calif., Stanford)
6 Mitch Stahl (MB, 6-8, Chambersburg, Pa., UCLA)
8 T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
9 Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
12 Matthew Pollock (MB, 6-9, Orland Park, Ill., Pepperdine)
14 David Wieczorek (OH, 6-8, Chicago, Ill., Pepperdine)
15 Brenden Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
18 Kyle Ensing (Opp, 6-7, Valencia, Calif., Long Beach State)
24 Larry Tuileta (L, 6-2, Honolulu, Hawaii, Univ. of Hawaii)
25 Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
27 Michael Brinkley (L, 5-10, Huntington Beach, Calif., UC Irvine)
Head Coach: Rob Neilson
Assistant Coach: Milan Zarkovic
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Medical Support: Madison Schultze
Aug. 8: Argentina vs USA, Gorky Grana Stadium in Moron
Aug. 9: Argentina vs USA, UNTREF in Villa Lynch
Aug. 10: Argentina vs USA, Gorky Grana Stadium in Moron