Now the Volleyball Nations League attention again turns to the women.

The third round begins Tuesday in Sofia, Bulgaria, and Calgary, Canada. The USA women play their next match Wednesday against Belgium in Calgary.

The USA, men, rather, get a much-needed break. They play July 4 against Germany in Osaka, Japan.

They are coming off a tough loss to Poland on Sunday that left the Americans 6-2 and tied for third after two rounds.

France, the Tokyo Olympics gold medalists, and Poland are tied at 7-1. Italy, Japan and the USA are 6-2, and Brazil and the Netherlands are 5-3. 

The USA men have lost two of three. They opened the second round in Bulgaria with a four-set win over Serbia, but then got swept by Iran. After beating Bulgaria, the finished with a 21-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-22 setback to Poland. 

“I think this format is challenging for rosters, especially with how your matches line up with opponents’ matches,” USA coach John Speraw told USA Volleyball. 

“Going long with Bulgaria last night in an intense match and then trying to play this one. I was proud of how much they gave; I just didn’t think they had enough.”

Aaron Russell led the USA with 13 kills, three aces and a dig. TJ DeFalco had 11 kills, a block, two aces and a dig. David Smith had five kills, three blocks and an ace. Kyle Ensing had eight kills and Mitch Stahl had six kills, a block, two aces 

Erik Shoji had seven digs, a stat that appeared skewered in the boxscore, since it said the USA had 27 but only credited individuals with 10 total. Josh Tuaniga had a kill, two digs, 21 assists and his team hit .327. Smith, Shoji, DeFalco and Tuaniga all play professionally in Poland.

Bartosz Kurek led Poland with 21 kills and two blocks. Kamil Semeniuk had 14 kills and an ace. 

The USA women will have their third roster in as many rounds when they head to Canada.

They opened the tournament by going 3-1 in Bossier City, Louisiana, with wins over the Dominican Republic, Canada and Brazil before a loss to Japan. Then in the Philippines, they beat swept Bulgaria, Poland and China before beating Thailand in four.

In Calgary, they play Belgium, Serbia, Turkey and Germany.

Japan leads the women’s VNL at 8-0, the USA is alone in second at 7-1, and Brazil and Italy are tied at 6-2. Turkey, China and Serbia are all 5-3.

Kyle Ensing hits against the Polish block of Jakub Kochanowski, left, and Kamil Semeniuk/Volleyball World photo


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