FIVB Men’s Volleyball Nations League
- May 25-July 8, 2018
- Lille, France
- World Rankings: #1 Brazil, #2 USA
The United States men finished out their grueling rollercoaster ride at the VNL Final Six with a bronze medal around their necks after sweeping Brazil on Sunday.
The Americans won 25-21, 28-26, 28-26 to rebound from Saturday’s tiebreak loss to France.
Aaron Russell, Matt Anderson and Taylor Sander led the way with double-digit scoring efforts. Russell posted 14 points on a team-best 13 kills and an ace. Anderson chimed in with 13 points on 11 putaways and a team-leading two aces, while Sander chalked up nine kills and two blocks. David Smith was the team’s top blocker with three stuffs. Coach John Speraw opted to utilize just his Olympians in the match with a lineup of Russell, Anderson, Sander, Smith, Max Holt, Micah Christenson and Erik Shoji, who each added VNL bronze to their 2016 Olympic bronze medal.
Wallace DeSouza did all he could to pace Brazil with 15 points, all on kills. Lucas Saatkamp provided some help with 12 points on 10 putaways and a team-best two blocks. Mauricio Souza chipped in seven points (6 kills, 1 block) and Douglas Souza added six, all on kills while starting the first two sets.
The Americans edged Brazil in every statistical category: kills (44-43), blocks (7-4), aces (4-2) and points off errors (28-26) in the win, which avenged a five-set preliminary round loss.
The teams were level at 12 and 17 in Set 1, before Team USA rode Anderson and Russell to a 25-21 win.
The Americans carried the momentum to a 4-0 start in Set 2. Douglas Souza helped Brazil even the score at 6-all and Wallace DeSouza later gave the South Americans an 18-16 edge. Brazil gave the United States an opening and two set-point tries with a Bruno Mossa Rezende service error. It would take those two and three more before the USA finally claimed the 28-26 victory on a Holt stuff.
Christenson starred as the United States grabbed an 8-5 lead in Set 3. Trailing 12-8, Brazil battled back to tie it up at 12 with a 4-0 run including a Bruno ace and two DeSouza putaways. Smith came through to give the Americans back the lead, but it took four match-point tries to end the night. A Brazilian hitting error clinched the bronze medal.
USA 🇺🇸 @usavolleyball captain #20 David Smith (@davidmsmith15) talks his team winning the #VNL bronze medal after defeating Brazil 🇧🇷 @volei in Lille! #BePartOfTheGame #volleyball pic.twitter.com/0mzUw7yRPL
— Volleyball World (@FIVBVolleyball) July 8, 2018