USA men beat Australia after losing to Russia, Poland and stand 3-3 in VNL

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Josh Tuaniga looks back to the play as Erik Shoji goes over the scorer's table against Poland/FIVB photo

Matt Anderson is back, but the USA men went 2-1 in their second round of three matches at the Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy, losing to Russia on Thursday and Poland on Friday before beating Australia on Saturday.

It left the Americans 3-3 as they now take three days off before playing another batch of three matches in three days, against Iran on Wednesday, against Germany on Thursday, and against Serbia on Friday.

In the USA’s 25-22, 25-29, 17-25, 25-19 loss to Russia, Thomas Jaeschke had 14 kills, a block, and an ace, and the other outside, TJ DeFalco, had 10 kills and two blocks. Erik Shoji had eight digs.

The middles were David Smith and Jeff Jendryk, Ben Patch played opposite, and Micah Christenson set. Kyle Ensing, Taylor Averill, and Mitch Stahl also played.

Click here for the USA-Russia match highlights.

Matt Anderson attacks against Poland/FIVB photo

On Friday, Poland, the defending world champion, swept the Americans 25-17, 28-26, 25-17 as Anderson made his USA 2021 debut and led with nine kills with two erros in 16 attacks. Patch had five kills, Stahl four, and seven others had kills. Stahl and Max Holt had three blocks each. Shoji had eight digs, and Anderson and Garrett Muagututia had five each.

“I really didn’t know what to expect, my first time playing at the VNL, my first time playing in a match since the pandemic outbreak in Italy since last spring, so like 15 months since I was on the court,” Anderson said. 

“It was a tough game. Poland came out and they served really tough and made some big plays in the beginning of the first and second set. They put us in a difficult spot, but I think that we were responding at this time. We found some energy to rebound.”

Click here for the USA-Poland match highlights.

The USA bounced back with a 25-23, 25-20, 25-17 victory over Australia as Anderson led with 12 kills and hit .555, Ensing had nine and hit .300, Jendryk had six kills and Smith had five as neither had a hitting error. Smith had three blocks, Ensing had two, and Dustin Watten, getting the start at libero, had seven digs. Christenson had six and Anderson, Jendryk, and Ensing had four each. 

“It’s been a challenging (two weeks),” USA coach John Speraw said. “Playing Brazil the first week and then Russia, Poland the second week, especially when we are trying to work on our lineup and get guys healthy.”

Click here for the USA-Australia match highlights.

The USA men celebrate beat Australia/FIVB photo

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