USA Cruises Past Russia, Into #FIVBMensWCH Semis

  0 Wendy Mayer | September 27th, 2018 | European volleyball, International Volleyball, News, NORCECA volleyball, U.S. Men's National Team

2018 FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championships – Final Six

  • Sept. 26-30, 2018
  • Pool I – Brazil, USA, Russia

The United States continues to roll through the FIVB Men’s World Championships, winning its ninth straight match and first of the Final Six with a sweep of Russia on Thursday.

With the win, the Americans knock Volleyball Nations League and European champions Russia out of semifinals contention, assuring the USA and Brazil move on.

Brazil and the United States will meet Friday to determine first place in the pool and pairing for the semifinals.

The Americans are guaranteed their best finish since earning a bronze medal in 1994.

USA def. Russia 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-23)

“The Russians are big athletes and their blocking line is impressive: I’m a small guy, so I need to work on the ball against them,” American Taylor Sander said. “It worked out and we are very happy and eager to meet Brazil to test our strength.”

Russia put up nine blocks and had help from 23 American miscues, but couldn’t get past the United States on Thursday.

The USA led 47-34 in kills and 4-2 in aces to make up the 23-18 difference in points off errors and the 9-6 deficit in blocks.

“We were able to keep a very high level of play for the whole tournament and we want to keep it this way,” outside Aaron Russell said. “Russia was a formidable opponent but we know it’s gonna get harder and harder to win our next matches.”

Russell and Sander guided the Americans to victory with double-digit scoring efforts. Russell turned in 17 points on 15 kills and a team-best two aces, while Sander notched 15 points on 13 putaways and a team-leading two stuffs. Sander paced the team the first two sets and Russell was tops in the final stanza.

Matt Anderson was next on the team with nine points, posting eight kills and an ace. The Americans used just one substitute in the match, David Smith, as head coach John Speraw opted to stick with his starters: Russell, Sander, Anderson, Dan McDonnell, Max Holt and Micah Christenson, all of which scored at least two points. Smith added five scores, all on kills, in the win, while Christenson supplied two blocks.

Russia saw two players reach double-digit scoring tallies: Dmitriy Muserskiy (12) and Egor Kliuka (11). Eleven players saw court time in the match with seven scoring. Muserskiy turned in seven kills, a team-best four blocks and an ace, while Kliuka added nine putaways and two stuffs despite not starting set 2. Maxim Mikhailov (9) and Victor Poletaev (7)  followed with seven kills apiece. Mikhailov also added a block and an ace.

After opting for Alexander Butko at setter in Wednesday’s loss to Brazil, Russia went with captain Sergey Grankin on Thursday, but the result was the same.

Russia boasted a 14-12 advantage in Set 1, but a Sander kill and Russian miscue tied it up. Knotted up again at 20-all, a service error by Russia, a solo stuff by Christenson and putaways by Sander and McDonnell put the USA on the hill. McDonnell sealed the set with another kill two points later.

Trailing 11-9 in Set 2, the USA managed four straight points on kills by Sander and Anderson, a stuff by Christenson and a Holt ace. After playing to a 17-all tie, Holt and Russell came through with kills to put the Americans on top for good in the 25-23 win.

After falling behind 19-15 in Set 3, Russia had a chance to extend the match, knotting it up at 20-all with help from four blocks, but Russell closed the door with four of the final five points to send the Russians packing.

“It is always difficult to speak after such a loss,” Mikhailov said. “I think that today we played better than we did yesterday in many ways, yet this was not enough to win the match against USA. It is obviously a big disappointment to finish the season with such a loss – but we will have to regroup and will start working ahead of the Olympic Games.”

Matches Pts Sets Points
Rank Team W L W L Ratio W L Ratio
1  United States 1 0 3 3 0 MAX 75 68 1.103
2  Brazil 1 0 2 3 2 1.500 106 107 0.991
3  Russia 0 2 1 2 6 0.333 175 181 0.967
Date Time Score Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5 Total Report
26 Sep 17:00 Brazil  3–2  Russia 20–25 21–25 25–22 25–23 15–12 106–107 P2 Report
27 Sep 17:00 United States  3–0  Russia 25–22 25–23 25–23 75–68
28 Sep 17:00 Brazil   United States 0–0

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About Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer has worked in athletics media relations for the last 20 years. The Northwest Missouri State alumna is currently senior writer for after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

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