Although not the scariest of the groups, Pool G should be worrisome enough to make the yellow light in Team USA’s headquarters go off. Although the Americans are the clear favorites to advance in first place, Iran and Canada have a real chance at making things go sour at the slightest American lack of concentration. Not to be counted out, the Bulgarians have the home-crowd at their side, which is always a plus. NOTE: Only the top two of the second ranked teams of each pool will qualify for the third round.
Story Lines To Watch
Matthew Anderson has so far been his dominating self, and he is getting a lot of help from Aaron Russel, Taylor Sander, and Erik Shoji. The Anderson-Sander duo is hitting close to 58% for the tournament, which is borderline insane. The latter is also the competition’s best receiver and second best server. Micah Christenson, as expected, is at the top of the setting statistics. However, the fact that he is the best ranked US player on blocking is worrisome, as it shows that the rotation at the middle has been unstable thus far.
The Canadian team is the real deal and has finally made its presence known as NORCECA’s second best team, behind the USA. John Gordon Perrin and Nicholas Hoag finished Round 1 in the Top 10 in scoring and Top 20 in passing, youngster Sharone Vernon-Evans is hitting over 50% while topping the blocking leader-boards in 5th place, Steven Marshall is the competition’s best digger, andJay Blankenau has stepped up majestically for Tyler Sanders. If the USA undermines this Canadian team, it will pay the price.
Iran is a deceptive team. In spite of not having many known superstars, its only defeat in Round 1 was to the defending champions Polish squad. This team is used to grit and grind to make for its lack of top-talent, which could spell a nuisance for the American squad. Setter Saeid Marouf is among the best in the business, and although he is not playing at his peak right now, anything can happen in Found 2.
The Bulgarian team is running on fumes. The squad, which is missing most of its superstars (Georgi Bratoev andTsvetan Sokolov, for startes) to injury, also had to deal with an injury toTodor Skrimov. If it were not for its weak Round 1 Pool, maybe Bulgaria wouldn’t have made it out of the round. However, since it did, one can never count out the home factor in tournaments like these. Nikolay Uchikov is the team’s most consistent player so far.