This one was tougher, but the USA men improved to 3-0 in the Volleyball Nations League with a 17-25, 25-15, 25-21, 26-28, 15-9 victory Friday over Japan.

The USA, which opened the tournament’s first leg in Brasilia, Brazil, with sweeps of Slovenia and the Netherlands, had to go the distance against Japan (2-1).

“Japan played exceptionally well in the first set,” USA coach John Speraw said told USA Volleyball. “They served the ball very well and made some great defensive plays. They passed the ball almost perfectly.

“For us to turn that around in the second set was the first of many positives.”

There’s little time to recover, because the Americans plays Saturday afternoon against the home team. Brazil, off Friday, opened VNL with a sweep of Australia and a four-set win over Slovenia.

In other matches in Brazil on Friday, the Netherlands swept Iran and Slovenia swept Austrailia. In VNL matches in Ottawa, Canada, Serbia beat Argentina in five, Germany did the same to Bulgaria, and France swept Canada.

Kyle Ensing has been on fire for the USA in this tournament, continued to lead, this time with 19 kills, five digs and a block against Japan. Aaron Russell had 16 kills, a block, seven digs and three aces. Jeff Jendryk had nine kills, two digs and two blocks an David Smith had five kills, three digs and a block. Thomas Jaeschke had nine kills and 10 digs. Josh Tuaniga, who had two kills and a block, had seven digs and 43 assists as the USA hit .405. Kyle Dagostino had 14 digs and three assists and James Shaw had six assists and two digs 

Kento Miyaura led Japan with 19 kills and a block and Ran Takahashi had 12 kills. Japan earlier beat the Netherlands and China.

After Saturday’s match the Americans have 11 days off before heading to the second round in Sofia, Bulgaria.

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David Smith gets ready to hit Josh Tuaniga’s set against Japan/Volleyball World photo

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