Next stop: Anaheim.
“We are very excited to be coming home and staying home for a little while,” USA coach John Speraw said.
After his team swept Poland 25-22, 25-18, 25-19 on Saturday to finish the second round of Volleyball Nations League 4-0, improving to 7-1, the USA now has a week off — in Anaheim — and then plays the third round in Anaheim.
“We know how special and unique it is to play in front or our home fans and to do at home where we train is going to be really as well. We can hardly wait to play in front of our home fans.”
The USA in this tournament swept Netherlands, swept Italy, swept Canada, and lost in four to Brazil before taking a break. In the second round in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the Americans beat Serbia in four before sweeping China, Iran and Poland. For eight matches, the USA is 22-4 in sets. Only Japan (8-0, 24-7), which had three players combine for 77 kills in its five-set win Saturday over Argentina, is ahead in the standings.
“4-0 is an outstanding effort, especially considering the quality of our opponents this week,” Speraw said. “Nice contributions from the entire roster and today in particular I thought our guys did a great immediately demonstrating some poise.”
Indeed, the USA, ranked No. 2 in the world, trailed the top-ranked team 4-0 and 5-2 early in the first set.
“We came right back and tied it up and made it a battle,” Speraw said.
TJ 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. Matt Anderson had seven kills and two aces to go with a match-high nine digs..
“Our serve and pass was really solid,” Speraw said.
His team had seven aces and Poland, had just 29 kills, just two aces. The USA, which had 38, had an 8-6 blocks advantage.
“They started serving us really tough and that put a lot of stress on our offense and on our spikers on the pins to put balls away. What I liked is we never really gave up. We were putting balls down, getting tips, and playing overall great defense,” Anderson told former UCLA coach and Volleyball World TV analyst Mike Sealy.
“Our counterattack worked really well for us.
“The second and third sets we just were serving and putting more and more pressure on them and getting better in execution and sideout and ran with it.”
USA setter Micah Christenson had a kill, four blocks, an ace and four digs. His team his 38 percent.
“In my mind he’s the best setter in the world,” Anderson said. “When he has a chance to get his hands on the ball, we can do anything. So it’s on our passes to give him a ball he can go up and set and we just run with it.”
Poland (5-2) got 10 kills and a block from Bartosz Kurek. Norbert Huber had four kills, two blocks and an ace.
The USA may be headed home, but there are four more matches Sunday.
Poland has to come back and play Italy, Bulgaria faces Cuba, Netherlands plays Serbia and the day finishes with Brazil vs. France.
The USA women begin their third round Wednesday in Suwon, Korea, when they also play Poland.
Men’s play in Anaheim begins July 4. The Americans have that national holiday off and then play Cuba on July 5, Argentina on July 7, France on July 7 and Bulgaria on July 9.
The USA men will likely play Poland again in VNL, and if so it will be in the elimination or medal rounds in Gdansk, Poland, that start July 19.
“The goal over the next week is to continue to improve. As much we were 4-0 we all know we have plenty of room to improve and we know what’s on that list,” Speraw said. “We have an opportunity to get home, rest a little bit, and then train for four or five days and maybe flesh a few more details so we can play even better in front of the home fans.
JAPAN 3, ARGENTINA 2: Japan had a whopping 87 kills and stayed unbeaten with its 25-18, 25-22, 31-33, 22-25, 15-12 victory over Argentina (5-3). The leader was Ran Takahashi, who had 29 kills, two blocks and an ace. Kento Miyaura had 27 kills and a block, and Yuki Ishikawa had 16 kills and an ace. Luciana Palonsky had 21 kills and an ace for Argentina and Luciana Vicentin had 15 kills.
BRAZIL 3, SLOVENIA 1: Brazil (5-2) put an end to the five-match winning streak of Slovenia (6-2) as Ricardo Souza and Alan Souza had 18 kills and an ace each in a 23-25, 25-21, 26-24, 25-21 victory. Slovenia’s Klemen Cebulj had 18 kills and Tine Urnaut 15, a block and an ace.
NETHERLANDS 3, IRAN 1: The Dutch (4-3) came away with a 16-25, 25-16, 21-25, 25-17, 15-10 victory behind 20 kills from Nimir Abdel-Aziz, who added a block and six aces. Bennie Tuinstra had 16 kills, a block and three aces. The Netherlands outblocked Iran 17-10 and held an 11-17 aces advantage. Iran (2-6) got 17 kills from Amin Esmaeilnezhad, who had a block and three aces.
LATER SATURDAY: Four of the bottom six teams were in action as China (1-6) played Germany (1-6) and Canada (2-5) faced France (2-4).