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USA men play Poland Thursday in FIVB Men’s Worlds quarterfinals

The USA men, coming off their round-of-16 victory over Türkiye, play Poland on Thursday in the quarterfinals of FIVB Men’s World Championship.

And they have to do so in Gliwice, Poland, where a sold-out crowd will undoubtedly be rooting for the home team. The match starts at 3 p.m. Eastern and can be seen on

“We know this team pretty well. Played them a lot this summer,” USA coach John Speraw said.

 They serve the ball really, really well every time we play them. That puts a lot of pressure on us and we’re going to have to figure out how we handle their serves as best we can and how defend some of their attackers. They have great middles and a great opposite and depth at outside hitter. They’re just a really outstanding volleyball team, so you can do the right thing and still not stop them. ”

Just a week ago Tuesday, Poland beat the USA in four. Bartosz had 17 kills, a block and two aces in the 23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-21 victory.

“We know we have a really difficult match ahead,” Speraw said. “And, of course, we’re in their home and the energy their fans bring. It’s a big challenge and I think we’re up for it and we’re going to be better than the other night because we’ve learned some good lessons about how to handle that moment. We’ll go out there and play really hard and I’m excited about it.”

The Americans are coming off that 25-21, 25-17, 22-25, 19-25, 15-12 victory over Türkiye in which David Smith led with 14 kills and three blocks. Matt Anderson had 12 kills, two blocks and an ace, and Aaron Russell had 12 kills and an ace.

“That was a really tough volleyball match against a team that was playing very, very well in the third, fourth and fifth sets,” Speraw said. “We hadn’t had the opportunity to play Türkiye and the first two sets were going our way, and then they started serving the ball really, really well. 

“(Adis Lagumndzihja, who had 29 kills and two blocks) was attacking out-of-system balls incredibly well and they made some plays and had one serving run in the third set that gave them some life. They played great volleyball after that.”

The USA has had a tremendous summer, losing in the Volleyball Nations League final to France.

“When you’re in a playoff match and the expectations are there for you to win, and you’re the favorite and you have to manage those expectations and emotions, there’s stress that come from that in that moment,” Speraw said. “I think that’s the kind of classic playoff scenario that we’ve all been through and that we had to survive. 

“I think we’ll learn from it and be better as a result of the experience. I thought we played a really nice fifth set. That took a lot of guts and we endng up earning a hard, hard-fought win.”

On Wednesday’s quarterfainal matches, Italy knocked out France in five and Slovenia — into the semifinals for the first time — beat Ukraine. In the other quarterfinal Thursday, Argentina plays Brazil. 

The semifinals are Saturday and the medal matches Sunday.

Erik Shoji covers as TJ DeFalco cuts the ball against the Türkiye block in the round of 16/Volleyball World photo