USA Men Clinch Ljubljana Challenge Title with 4-Set Win Over Slovenia

  0 Wendy Mayer | September 08th, 2018 | International Volleyball, News, NORCECA volleyball, U.S. Men's National Team

Ljubljana Volleyball Challenge

  • Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Sept. 6-8, 2018

The United States Men’s National Team finished the Ljubljana Challenge with its third victory in as many days, topping host Slovenia 25-22, 25-23, 24-26, 25-21, in a final leadup to the World Championships.

“We lost the third set because of some serving errors, but the rest I think we did good,” Taylor Sander said. “We’re working on our systems we need to. Overall it was a great tournament for us and it was fun playing against good teams.”

The team looked to an experienced roster of Sander, Matt Anderson, Aaron Russell, Micah Christenson, Max Holt, Taylor Averill and Erik Shoji to start the match.

That lineup appears to be the current favorite for coach John Speraw as it is the same the team utilized in Thursday’s sweep of Iran.

On Friday against Canada, Speraw went with a completely different lineup, starting Jake Langlois and Brendan Sander on the outside, Jeff Jendryk and Dan McDonnell in the middle, Ben Patch at opposite, Kawika Shoji at setter and Dustin Watten at libero, while resting his veteran players. Only middle blocker David Smith saw action outside of the starting group, coming in for Jendryk midway through Set 3 (15-7).

“The World Championship is going to take the whole team, so it’s important that every guy on our team gets an opportunity to play and gets competitive repetition,” Patch told the Slovenian Federation. “It’s a good preparation for the next competition.”

Notables vs. Iran

  • The Americans hit .540 and boasted the advantage in kills (53-32), blocks (7-5) and aces (9-2).
  • Aaron Russell paced the team with 12 points (7 kills, 3 blocks, 2 aces), while Matt Anderson chipped in 10 points (6 kills, 3 aces, 1 block).
  • Opposite Ben Patch tacked on eight points, all on kills, as a substitute.
  • Erik Shoji and Micah Christenson pulled up eight digs apiece.

Notables vs. Canada

  • Team USA trailed 23-20 in Set 4. Kills by Sander and Patch tied it up at 23, before a Canadian miscues and McDonnell ace clinched the victory.
  • The Americans hit .311 in the match, while Canada managed a .278 effort. Team USA benefitted from 18 Canadian errors, while committing just 11, but trailed Canada in kills (50-44), blocks (8-7) and aces (4-3).
  • Opposite Ben Patch notched a match-high 19 points (18 kills, 1 block), while hitting a t a .500 clip. Jake Langlois tacked on 13 points (8 kills, 5 blocks) and Brendan Sander posted 12 points (10 kills, 2 aces).
  • Stephen Maar led team Canada with 16 points (12 kills, 2 blocks, 2 aces)
  • Canada pulled starting setter TJ Sanders after dropping the first two sets, replacing him with Jay Blankenau.

Notables vs. Slovenia

  • After a tie at 23 in Set 3, a block by Kozamernika and two kills by Cubulj clinched the 26-24 win for Slovenia. 
  • Sander led the Americans with 19 points, while Anderson and Russell followed with 15 apiece.
  • Cebulj paced the Slovenians with 13 points

Ljubljana Challenge

Sept. 6 – USA def. Iran 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-20)

Sept. 7 – USA def. Canada 3-1 (25-20, 25-22, 12-25, 25-23)

Sept. 8 – USA def. Slovenia 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 24-26, 25-21)

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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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