The USA men after beating Bulgaria/Volleyball World photo

Now a week of rest and then on to Poland.

To play France.

Again.

The USA men swept Bulgaria on Sunday night in Anaheim to finish the third round of Volleyball Nations League.

Next up, a match with France, whom the Americans swept on Saturday. France beat Germany on Sunday to get into the final eight.

The quarterfinals start July 19 in Gdansk, Poland, and after USA-France, Italy plays Argentina. The next day, Japan plays Slovenia and Poland plays Brazil.

The women’s quarterfinals start Wednesday in Arlington, Texas, as the USA plays Japan and Poland plays Germany. Thursday, Brazil plays China and Türkiye plays Italy.

Men’s standings

The USA and Japan tied for first. The Americans lost their last match of the first round to Brazil in four and second match of the third round to Argentina, 25-18, 23-25, 23-25, 43-41, 15-12 this past Friday. Japan was riding high but lost its last two matches, in four to Italy before getting swept by Poland. 

Country, match record, sets record
1. USA, 10-2, 33-7
2. Japan 10-2, 31-16
3. Poland, 10-2, 30-19
4. Italy, 9-3, 28-15
5. Argentina, 9-3, 32-18
6. Brazil, 8-4, 30-18
7. Slovenia, 8-4, 27-17
8. France, 6-6, 23-21
9. Serbia, 6-6, 23-23
10. Netherlands, 5-7, 22-24
11. Germany, 3-9, 16-28
12. Canada, 3-9, 15-31
13. Cuba, 3-9, 15-33
14. Iran, 2-10, 16-31
15. Bulgaria, 2-10, 13-32
16. China, 2-10, 12-33
Matt Anderson goes way up over the Bulgarian block/Volleyball World photo

USA sweeps Bulgaria

The Americans won 29-27, 25-19, 25-21 in a match that allowed coach John Speraw to play his reserves after that tough loss to Argentina on Friday and the win over France on Saturday.

Garrett Muagututia led with 13 kills and a block and added four digs. Thomas Jaeschke had 10 kills and two blocks and led the team with 10 digs.

Matt Andereson had six kills, a block and an ace and Jeff Jendryk had six kills and two blocks to go with four digs. David Smith had five kills and a block and Kyle Ensing added two kills.

Setter Micah Ma’a had two kills, two blocks, five digs and an ace. Libero Erik Shoji had five digs.

“It’s been a long time and the guys are so helpful,” Ma’a said after the rare start in place of Micah Christenson. “When you are out there and you feel a little nervous, they give you a lot of confidence. 

“We’ve got a great group of guys and I would just give all the credit to them. We’ve got really good leaders, guys with experience who have been here before. They give the young guys lots of confidence, they carry a lot of the load and they are running the show a lot of the time. We are just trying to be good followers.”

France, Cuba win

France clinched its spot in the quarterfinals with a 21-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-21 victory over Germany. 

Trevor Clevenot had 15 kills, a block and an ace. Both Barthelemy Chinenyeze and Stephen Boyer had 11 kills, a block and an ace.

“We didn’t start the game well. We had some trouble in the break points as they were spiking really well. But then we fixed our blocks for the opposite and for the middles,” France setter  Benjamin Toniutti said. 

“It was a tough game. We knew we had to win this game to go to Gdansk and we are happy to be going to the final eight. There are a lot of good teams in volleyball and anyone can win the title in Gdansk.”

Linus Weber had 17 kills and an ace for Germany.

Cuba finished with a 25-22, 26-28, 25-23, 28-30, 15-10 win over Iran as Jesus Herrera had 25 kills, a block and and two aces, and Miguel Lopez had 22 kills, two blocks and three aces.

According Volleyball World, Cuba avoided relegation, but China and Iran have to win the 2023 Volleyball Challenger Cup at the end of this month if they want to compete in the VNL again next year.

Kyle Ensing, left, and Jeff Jendryk block Bulgaria’s Martin Atanasov/Volleyball World photo

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