The USA men opened Volleyball Nations League play with a dominating performance against the Netherlands on Wednesday and they’re back at it again Thursday when they play Italy in Ottawa, Canada.
In the other match Wednesday in Ottawa, Brazil beat Germany.
Earlier Thursday in Nagoya, Japan, Bulgaria swept Slovenia, Serbia swept China and Poland pulled a reverse sweep against Iran.
The schedule in Ottawa also includes the Netherlands facing Cuba and Argentina playing Brazil.
TJ DeFalco led a balanced USA attack with 10 kills and three aces and added four digs. Jake Hanes had eight kills, two blocks, four digs and two aces. Aaron Russell had nine kills and two blocks and David Smith had five kills and two blocks.
Setter Micah Christenson had a kill, two blocks, an ace and a team-high eight digs. His team hit .410.
“The goal is not to be playing perfect volleyball at the moment,” Christenson said. “Right now, we are working on our connections and our team resilience … I think we did a great job with that. In the second set they put a lot of pressure on us. We stayed resilient, we stayed together, and we pulled out a nice victory that propelled us to a 3-0 win.”
Erik Shoji had five digs.
“That was the first match of the season. It looked like it,” USA coach John Speraw said. “Even though we didn’t play as smooth volleyball as we will later in the season, I thought we still had a lot of confidence, a lot of poise.
“Guys didn’t seem very rattled at any point when they put a little pressure on us, which they did in the second and third sets.”
Nimir Abdel-Aziz was outstanding for the Netherlands and had 21 of the 35 Dutch kills. He added a block, four digs and two aces.
BRAZIL 3, GERMANY 1: Alan Souza had 18 kills and a block and Ricardo Souza had 16 kills, two blocks and two aces for Brazil in its 26-24, 25-16, 19-25, 25-15 victory. Linus Weber had 20 kills and a block for Germany.
BULGARAIA 3, SLOVENIA 0: Alex Nikolov had 16 kills to lead Bulgaria in its 26-24, 25-23, 25-17 win. Martin Atanasov had 11 kills and two blocks.
SERBIA 3, CHINA 0: Serbia got through the first and then cruised to a 34-32, 25-16, 25-20 victory. Drazen Luburic led with 16 kills, a block and two aces. Miran Kujundzic had 10 kills, two blocks, six digs and four aces, and Aleksander Nedelijkovic had eight kills, three blocks and an ace.
POLAND 3, IRAN 2: Poland won 23-25, 23-25, 25-21, 25-15, 15-13. Four Poles had 11 or more kills, 15 by Kamil Semeniuk, who also had an ace and 11 digs. Kamil Szymura had 12 digs. Iran’s Amin Esmaeilnezhad had 15 kills, a block, six digs and an ace.