The USA’s David Smith contorts while hitting through the Cuban block/Andy J. Gordon photo

The USA had to go overtime to win the first set, but then cruised to a 27-25, 25-17, 25-15 sweep of Cuba on Wednesday night in the third round of Volleyball Nations League.

The Americans, playing in the Anaheim Convention Center, just a short distance from their home training site, dominated in every stat, including 38-30 in attacks, 7-4 in blocks and 8-2 in aces, four by Matt Anderson.

For that matter, the veteran had nine kills with no errors in 19 attacks to hit 37%, He also had four digs.

Among the other third-round openers, Japan won to remain the lone unbeaten and Poland pulled off a reverse sweep against Slovenia.

Friday in Anaheim, Argentina plays Germany, Serbia plays Cuba and Bulgaria plays Iran. Earlier in the Philipines, the slate showed Brazil vs. Netherlands, Italy vs. Canada and Slovenia vs. China.

Max Holt hits against Cuba/Andy J. Gordon photo

The Americans (8-1), currently alone in second place, have Thursday off before playing Argentina on Friday.

The USA’s Aaron Russell had nine kills with also no errors in 19 attacks, two blocks and an ace. TJ DeFalco had seven kills with no errors in 13 swings, a block, two digs and an ace. David Smith had five kills, two blocks and an ace, and Max Holt had four kills, a block and an ace.

Setter Micah Christenson had a kill in his only try, a block and two digs and libero Erik Shoji had seven digs.

Cuba dropped to 2-7. Migeul Castro had 11 kills and an ace and Jaime Herrera had 10 kills and an ace.

Tuesday’s results

The third round got underway in Pasay City, Phillpines, with Italy dealing a 23-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-21 defeat to Brazil, leaving both teams 6-3. The Italians had 13 aces, while Brazil had three.

Yuri Romano led Italy with 16 kills and four ace. Alessandrop Michieletto had 14 kills and three aces, and Gainluca Galassi had seven kills, four blocks and an ace.

Brazil’s Henrique Honorato had 14 kills and an ace and Ricardo Souza had nine kills and two aces.

In the second match, Japan (9-0) beat China (2-7) as four players had 10 or more kills in a 24-26, 25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 15-12 victory.

Yuki Ishikawa had 16 kills, a block and an ace. Kento Miyaura had 14 kills and an ace. Ran Takahashi had 10 kills and four aces, and Yuji Nishida had 11 kills and an ace.

China, which lost despite having a 17-4 blocks advantage, got 17 kills, two blocks and two ace from Jingyin Zhang. Yuantai Yu had 15 kills and two aces and Yongzhen Li had eight kills and eight blocks.

Half a day later in Anaheim, Argentina (6-3) rallied to beat Serbia (4-5) in four to move up four spots and into a logjam of four 6-3 teams. Bruno Lima had 16 kills, a block and an ace in the 19-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-18 victory. Luciano Palonsky had 12 kills, a block and an ace, and Agustin Loser had seven kills and eight of his 16 blocks. Serbia had five blocks. Miran Kujundzic had 14 kills, a block and an ace and Drazen Luburic had eight kills, two blocks and two aces.

“We spent the last week training here in Anaheim and were working hard for these matches,” Loser said. “This win puts us closer to our goal of making it to the finals and we’re happy about it. 

“We tried to study Serbia a lot before the match and that helped our performance in blocking.”

France (4-5) finished the first day off with a sweep of Iran (2-7).  Timothee Carle had 12 kills, two blocks and three aces in the 25-1, 25-22, 25-19 victory. Stephen Boyer had 10 kills and an ace.

Wednesday’s results

The Netherlands (5-4) defeated Canada (2-7) in the Philipines as Nimir Abdel-Aziz picked up right he left off in the second round. He had 22 kills and two aces in the 25-22, 25-22, 17-25, 25-18 victory. Gijs Jorna had 10 kills and two blocks and Maarten Van Garderen had 11 kills. Ryan Sclater had 18 kills and two aces for Canada.

Then Poland (7-2) got past Slovenia (6-3) in five, coming back from 0-2 to win 29-31, 21-25, 25-20, 25-20, 15-13. Aleksander Sliwka led a balanced attack with 18 kills, a block and an ace. Bartosz Bednorz had 13 kills and a block. 

“We always have tough games against Slovenia. We have some history together. They always fight until the end and they showed it, especially in the first set,” Sliwka said. 

“But we won the game and we are really happy that we showed enough quality to beat them. We were just trying to play every single ball like it’s the last, to fight for every ball and stick to the tactics, and it worked. Many of our guys played today and had impact in this win.”

Slovenia’s Klemen Cebulj had 19 kills and a blocks, Rok Mozic had 15 kills, a block and an ace, and Tine Urnaut had 14 kills and two aces.

Then back in Anaheim:

Germany’s Anton Brehm goes up against Bulgaria’s Nikolay Kolev/Andy J. Gordon photo

Germany (2-7) routed Bulgaria (1-8) with a balanced attack in a 25-22, 25-18, 25-22 sweep before the USA-Cuba match. Moritz Reichert had 12 kill and two aces and Linus Weber had 11 kills and a block. The outcome left Bulgaria alone in last place.

Germany’s Moritz Reichert attacks against Bulgaria/Andy J. Gordon photo


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