Friday, 22 September 2023

International Volleyball

USA men sweep Italy and play Poland for Volleyball Nations League gold

USA men sweep Italy and play Poland for Volleyball Nations League gold

The USA men surgically dismantled Italy on Saturday in the semifinals of Volleyball Nations League in Gdansk, Poland.

By winning 25-19, 25-18, 25-19 the Americans (12-2) advanced to Sunday final against host Poland (12-2). Poland beat Japan in four earlier Saturday. 

“There will be about 10,000 people cheering for Poland in the final,” the USA’s Thomas Jaeschke said, “so it should be a good match.”

The veteran, opposite Matt Anderson, did it again, leading with 17 kills, including the match-ender and eight digs. He only had one error in 25 attacks and hit 64%.

Jaeschke had 12 kills with only one error in 26 attacks, two blocks and two aces and tied libero Erik Shoji for the team lead with 10 digs.

“We played well within our system and didn’t worry too much when they made good plays, that was the biggest thing.,” Jaeschke said. “They’re a great team and we’re just happy we were able to get away with a win.”

TJ DeFalco had eight kills in 17 errorless attacks, three blocks and six digs. David Smith had three kills, two blocks and an ace and Max Holt had three kills and a block. 

Setter Micah Christenson had a kill, two blocks and three digs. His team hit 52%.

Alessandro Michieletto had nin kills for Italy, which ended VNL (10-4). 

The USA led in kills (44-33), blocks (10-6) and Italy had a 4-3 advantage in aces.

“I thought we blocked the ball early really well and our serve continued to put pressure on them throughout the match,” USA coach John Speraw said. “That gave us high-quality block and defensive opportunities and we executed on those opportunities really well.

“We passed the ball exceptionally well, especially considering how tough a serving team Italy is.

“Matt Anderson was phenomenal, Micah dished it around well again, including making some critical decisions at important times, and I thought Thomas had a really nice match. A great all-around performance and excited about another opportunity to go to the VNL final.”

The USA, which beat France in the quarterfinals, lost to France in last year’s VNL gold-medal match.

Earlier in this VNL, the Americans swept Poland on June 24 in the Netherlands. In that 25-22, 25-18, 25-19 victory, DeFalco led the USA with 14 kills, a block and two aces and had five digs. Aaron Russell had eight kills, two blocks, eight digs and an an ace. Anderson had seven kills and two aces to go with a match-high nine digs.

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