USA men sweep Korea, will face the Netherlands for an Olympic berth

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Men's Olympic Qualification Tournament Saturday-Aaron Russell
Aaron Russell again led the USA with 12 points in their sweep of Korea/FIVB photo

With the USA defeating Korea 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-16) on Saturday, a spot in the 2020 Olympics hangs on the result of Sunday’s match between the USA and the Netherlands.

“This is what we dreamed of. This is what every athlete dreams of,” USA libero Erik Shoji said after the match, “playing against the host team to go to the Olympics.”

The USA and the Netherlands both boast 2-0 records after two nights of competition in Pool B of the Tokyo Qualification Tournament; however, the USA has a slight edge in points since the Netherlands needed five sets to defeat Korea before sweeping Belgium. The USA got past Belgium 3-1 and secured the sweep of Korea to move into Sunday with six points in the pool.

Against Korea, Aaron Russell led the USA offense for the second night in a row, scoring 12 points (10 kills, a block, and an ace).

Men's Olympic Qualification Tournament Saturday-John Speraw
John Speraw confers with his team in Saturday’s win against Korea/FIVB photo

Head coach John Speraw made just two changes in the starting lineup from Friday’s match versus Belgium, using middle Jeff Jendryk instead of Max Holt and starting Garrett Muagututia as the second outside, instead of using him off the bench. Jendryk finished the match with seven points on five kills and two blocks. Muagututia had nine points. As a team, USA out-served Korea five to one and out-block its opponent seven to three.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Shoji said. “Korea had a ton of new players, so we weren’t that familiar with them.”

Speraw mostly stuck with his starting lineup throughout the match, only subbing in Ben Patch and Mitch Stahl for a few points at the very end.

The match between the USA and the Netherlands will begin at 1 PM ET on Sunday and will air live on the Olympic Channel and NBCSports.com/live.

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