The USA men had to rally twice Wednesday in Osaka, Japan, and came away with a 15-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-14, 15-8 victory over France in the Volleyball Nations League.

It left the USA 8-2 with two matches left in the third round of the tournament and assured the Americans a spot in the quarterfinals.

“France came out and played great in the first set as you would expect of a great team,” USA coach John Speraw told USA Volleyball. “We showed a tremendous amount of poise in coming back and getting the second set, which really changed the momentum of the match.”

The USA leads the standings, followed by five teams all with seven victories: France, Italy, Poland, Brazil and Japan. The Netherlands is seventh with six wins and Iran is a game ahead of Slovenia, Serbia and Germany in the eighth spot.

In other matches in Osaka on Wednesday, Brazil beat Germany in four and Japan beat Austraila. In Gdansk, Poland, the Netherlands swept China an Slovenia did the same to Serbia.

The USA plays Canada Friday in Japan (2:40 a.m. Eastern Saturday morning) before ending against Argentina.

In Osaka on Thursday, Germany beat Australia in four and Brazil swept Canda. In Gdansk, Italy was to play Iran, Bulgaria faced Slovenia and Poland played China.

Aaron Russell led the USA with 13 kills, three blocks, two aces and six digs. Click here for a video of Russell’s top plays.

“Everybody played well in defense, and we were really flowing in sideout too,” Russell said. “It was good for us to respond to those tough matches that we lost and be able to win in five sets.”

TJ DeFalco had 12 kills, two blocks, an ace and six digs. Kyle Ensing had 10 kills, two aces and six digs. Click here for a video of Ensing’s top plays.

David Smith had five kills, a block, three digs and an ace, and the other middle, Jeff Jendryk, had five kills, a block and four digs. 

Setter Micah Christenson had a kill two blocks and five digs. His team hit .343. Libero Erik Shoji had seven digs. 

The last time the USA played France it won to open the Olympics. France went on to win the gold medal last summer in Tokyo and the USA failed to make the elimination round. Earvin Ngapeth led France with 16 kills, two blocks, an ace and 11 digs. Stephen Boyer had 13 kills, an ace and seven digs. Benjamin Diaz had 14 digs.

Jeff Jendryk attacks for the USA against the French block of Barthélémy Chinenyeze/Volleyball World photo
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