By Tyson Rodgers
COLORADO Springs, Colo. (July 20, 2014) – The U.S. Men’s National Team defeated the world’s No. 1 Brazil 3-1 (31-29, 21-25, 25-20, 25-23) on Sunday, to clinch the FIVB World League gold medal for a second time in the team’s history.
“It’s unbelievable, I am at a loss for words,” said middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.), who was named the tournament’s Best Blocker on Sunday in Florence, Italy. “I’m feeling fantastic. We are a great team and our players are very young.”
One of those young players, Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.), led Team USA in points for the third-consecutive match. Sander notched 24 points in the contest on 22 kills, earning him MVP honors of the tournament. He was also named Best Spiker.
Two and a half months ago, Sander was playing for BYU in the NCAA Men’s National Championship.
“Taylor Sander played an amazing game,” Lee said. “Guys like him are the future and tonight really couldn’t have worked out better.”
Team USA handled three key phases of the match with Brazil, winning in attacks (60-51), blocks (14-11) and digs (42-40), on their way to the 3-1 win.
Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) added 23 points to the gold-medal win, with 22 points coming by way of attacks.
Half of the 14 blocks for the U.S. Men came from Lee, on just 17 attempts, adding to his 12 points on the night. The trio of Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii), Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Sander each contributed two blocks.
Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii.) led the U.S. with 12 digs on Sunday with only two faults at the libero spot, while Anderson picked up 10 digs on no faults.
Setter Christenson had 39 running sets and 62 still sets on 102 attempts against Brazil.
Sander and Garrett Muagutia (Oceanside, Calif.) had 16 excellent receptions each on Sunday, while Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.) picked up 14.
Brazil’s Wallace De Souza finished with 16 points on 14 attacks to led his team in the match.
With the win, the U.S. joins Brazil (9), Italy (8), and Russia (3) as teams that have won gold more than once at the FIVB World League.
The last gold-medal win for Team USA at the FIVB World League came against Serbia in 2008.
Next up for the team will be the USA Volleyball Cup against Iran in August.
Italy won the bronze medal after defeating Iran in straight-sets, 25-22, 25-18, 25-22.
U.S. Men’s Roster for World League Matches in Italy
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (OH, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2. Sean Rooney (OH, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
6. Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
12. Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Manager: Andrea Becker
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Technical Coordinator: Anton Willert
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Team Doctor: Andrew Gregory
Consultant Coach: Al Scates
(From USA Volleyball Press Release)