2017 FIVB WORLD LEAGUE – Group 1
Pool H1 Standings:
United States def. Iran 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 30-28)
The United States began their third week in the World League with a three sets sweep over Iran 3-0, (25-17, 25-22, 30-28).
Team USA came out strong in the first set, crushing Iran 25-17. The second set proved to be more difficult, as the Iranian side pushed back late in the match. With the score at 23-22, Ben Patch throws down a kills to bring the American crew within one of the 2-0 match lead. Micah Christenson stopped Farhad Ghaemi in his tracks, with a monster block to end the set 25-22.
The final set of the match brought an early 5-1 lead for Team USA, with them keeping a steady lead until Iran forged a comeback to tie the set at 16 all. This followed up with an Iranian lead of 20-17 when the American’s called a timeout. Iran looked as though they were going to steal a set away from the American side, as they led late 24-20. A number of Iranian mistakes and some tough play from Patch and digs from libero Erik Shoji brought the score to 26-26. Another late tie at 28-28 brought the match to the wire. The match concluded at 30-28 with a kill from David Smith.
Taylor Sander was named the match MVP, helping Team USA force a massive comeback in the third set.
Team USA had just six players contribute points in the win, with Patch leading the squad with 24 points, including 21 kills and three blocks. Sander added an additional 12 points in the victory, while Smith produced 10.
For Iran, Amir Ghafour put down a team-best 12 points.
With the win, the United States moves up to number four in the rankings, however, this status comes in that they have played one more match than all other competitors. The win was crucial for Team USA, in that they began their World League play with a 0-3 start and have slowly moved their way back into contention with two wins in week two. The sweep helps the team’s case, as it adds three points to the team’s total. In the event of a tie of matches won, the points a team earns through sets taken to win will become the tiebreaker.
Belgium and Canada play each other on Friday, each being three match wins, like Team USA, in which a winner will move ahead in the rankings. This goes for any of the other three match victory teams – Bulgaria and Poland.
Team USA will have to win out and wait out other teams results to ensure they will make it to the Final Six with already qualified France and hosts Brazil.
Russia def. Poland 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-22)
In a surprising turn of events, Russia rolled past the defending World Champions Poland 3-0 on Thursday for their 3rd win of the tournament so far. Poland, after a promising start to the tournament that included wins over Italy and Brazil, have now lost 4 of their last 5 games.
The most noticeable difference for Russia in their best performance of the tournament so far was the presence of Egor Kliuka in their roster. Russia has been playing with just 12 on their bench for the first two weekends, which is now 13 for this weekend’s matches. That’s still less than the 14 allowed and which virtually every other team is carrying for the tournament.
Kliuka, a new addition for this weekend, started all 3 sets for Russia and scored 11 points on 9 kills and 2 blocks.
Russia also continued to serve well, with 8 aces – including 5 by Dmitry Volkov. Russia has had 7-or-more aces in all but 2 matches so far in this year’s World League.
Poland had only one player in double digits scoring – Dawid Konarski – who had 10 on 9 kills and a block. Mateusz Bieniek had just 7 kills, but did so without any errors on 10 swings for a match-high 70% success rate.