USA Completes Sweep with 3-1 Win over Poland to a Sold Out Crowd

Team USA generates a commanding lead in Group 1 Pool B of the 2015 FIVB World League competition by defeating Poland for the second night in a row to a sold out crowd (10,000) at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, IL. Aaron Russell led Team USA with 20 points on 19 kills and 1 block.Rookie national team player Russell’s hitting percentage was .826 against a tough Polish team. Poland was once again led by Bartosz Kurek with 12 kills and 1 service ace.

The first set has Murphy Troy, David Smith and Aaron Russell across the front row. Matt Anderson, Max Holt and Micah Christenson in the back row. Erik Shoji was the libero throughout the match. Team Poland started Nowakowski, Mika, Kurek in the front and Drzyzga, Kubiak and Bieniek across the backrow. Team USA had a brief lead at 2-1 but never regained the lead from that point. Poland lead by 1 to 4 points throughout the set with Team USA last tying things up at 20-20. A tough Kurek jump serve handcuffed Shoji for an ace putting Poland up 22-20. The teams traded points until a Bieniek quick in the middle sealed the win for Poland 25-23. Poland out-blocked USA 5-2 and out-served the US with 3 aces to 1 to make the difference.

In the second set, Team USA started the same exact rotation as the first while Team Poland dialed the rotation back one to the left. The match mirrored the first set up until the first technical timeout with Poland leading 8-7 on a Mika deep left placement shot.The USA blocking machine revved up and began creating a lead. A Murphy Troy tip shot over 2 blockers created a 21-16 lead for team USA. A Matt Anderson backrow attack got Team USA to set point (24-20) but an Anderson serving and hitting error combined with a block created a 3 point run getting Poland back to 24-23. Thomas Jaeschke was subbed in for Russell and he responded with a nice roll shot into the deep corner to win the set at 25-23. Team USA picked up 3 blocks and 1 ace in the set.

Team Poland tried to change the match-us in the third set and changed their front line to Kurek, Bieniek and Kubiak in the front at the start. The change didn't work as Team USA jumped out to a lead and continued to pour on the pressure including a commanding lead at 19-10. Team USA had 5 blocks in the set, added two aces and the offence was clicking with contributions from Russell, Smith and Troy. Team Poland subbed Rafal Buszek for Mika and Grzegorz Lomacz to set for Drzyzga but it didn't help. The set ended quickly with a Team USA winning 25-15.

Coach John Speraw of Team USA responded to Team Poland rotation adjustment in the third set by making his own adjustment. He rotated to have Holt, Anderson and Troy across the front row and Christenson, Russell and Smith across the back. Coach Antiga Stephane of Poland went back to his set two rotation with the exception of replacing Mika with Rafal Buszek. Team Poland responded well to start the fourth set and jumped out to an 8-6 lead after a Matt Anderson line shot missed high hands and sailed out of bounds. Russell Holmes entered the fourth set as a serving sub for Holt and lead team USA to a three point run ending at 15-12. Team Poland racked up hitting errors and was unable to get anything going. A frustrating four hits call against Poland gave Team USA the set 25-17 and the match 3-1.

Team USA completes its three weekend home stand and starts a long trip starting with Iran followed by Russia and completing pool play in Poland. Coach Speraw said that he doesn't expect any roster changes for the road trip other than watching how Taylor Sanders progresses. Sander is hitting the ball in practice but Speraw wouldn't say when he would return. Speraw also commented that the performance of Russell and Jaeschke has helped take the pressure off getting Sander back into the lineup before he might be ready.

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