2018 FIVB MEN’S VOLLEYBALL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – SEMIFINALS
POLAND DEF. UNITED STATES 3-2 (25-22, 20-25, 23-25, 25-20. 15-11)
Poland was able to overcome a 1-2 deficit to take the fourth and fifth sets against the United States in the semifinals. Despite the United States having a very consistent tournament throughout the various rounds of pool play, this might have not been too huge of a shock. Poland beat Serbia and Italy with relative ease in Pool J. What was quite shocking was the fact that Poland was able to eliminate the United States with essentially two players.
Bartosz Kurek and Michal Kubiak accounted for 65% of the points earned by Poland. Kurek, an opposite, and Kubiak, an outside hitter, also took 68% of Poland‘s swings in attack. Though the majority of the attack went through those two players, both still hit over 50% (Kurek: 53%, Kubiak: 56%). They also found a tremendous amount of luck getting points by attack the right back position on the court.
In the end, Kurek was the outright star of the match. He finished with match-highs in points (29), kills (24) and blocks (5). Kubiak finished the match with 22 points on 18 kills, 1 block and 3 aces. Fabian Drzyzga also contributed 3 aces for Poland while setting them to a 52% hitting percentage.
Piotr Nowakowski was the leading scorer in the middle for Poland with 8 points. These points came from 4 kills and blocks. Mateusz Bienek and Jakub Kochanowski split time at the other middle blocker position with Kochanowski entering the match in the second set. Bienek scored 1 point on 1 kill, and Kochanowski finished the match with 5.
The United States put forth a more varied attack with Taylor Sander (19), Matt Anderson (19), and Aaron Russell (18) all producing double-digit points. Sander hit 15 kills with a 50% attack average. He also chipped in 2 blocks and 2 service aces. Anderson hit 49% while scoring on 17 kills. He also had a block and an ace. Russell put away 16 kills with a 43% hitting percentage. He, like Anderson, also contributed a block and a kill.
Dave Smith scored 12 points in the middle on 7 kills. 3 blocks, and 2 service aces. Max Holt and Dan McDonnell split time at the other middle blocker position. Holt started the match, played the first two sets, and also started the tie-break. He scored 8 points from 6 kills and 2 blocks. McDonnell scored 5 points on 3 kills and 2 aces.
Erik Shoji led the match with 13 digs. The libero also had a match-high 90% of his 22 service receptions rated as excellent. Micah Christenson scored 2 points in the match and set the United States to a 50% success rate in attack.