2017 USAV Cup Coverage
USA Men’s Volleyball National Team had great crowds for a set of friendly matches on Friday and Saturday night at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, IL. While not as crowded as a World League match the facility closed the usually open west end line seating zone. This made the sideline seating packed all the way to the top on both sidelines creating a great audience ambiance.
This weekend’s matches were part of a two home and two away “friendly match” series between USA and Brazil. Brazil is currently the number one FIVB ranked men’s volleyball team in the world and Team USA is ranked number two. Friendly match formats are able to drop some of the FIVB requirements when compared to an official competition. This weekend, no camera systems for line and net calls, no coach’s challenges and the officials did not need to be FIVB sanctioned. This weekend was also my first time in seeing the national team using their new USAV official clothing supplier, Adidas. Now what do I do with all of the Mizuno gear I have collected over the past 17 years!
In the first match USA started Matt Anderson, Jeff Jendryk and TJ DeFalco in the front row with Aaron Russel, Max Holt and Kawika Shoji in the back row. Dustin Watten was libero. The two teams traded points until the 10-10 mark where Brazil finally won two points in a row with an Anderson serving foot fault and an overpass off of a DeFalco serve receive. The match continued trading points until Brazil pushed to a 25-21 win. No set by set stats were available during this friendly match but Team USA had 11 service errors in the first set.
Set two had Coach Speraw dial the serving order two places to the right with Holt, Russell and Anderson in the front and Shoji, DeFalco and Jendryk in the back row. Brazil strung 4 points together to make it 5-8 Brazil at the first technical time out. The match stayed fairly tight until the end. It was tied 23 all when Garrett Muaguttutia brought in as a serving sub served long and a USA bic attempt was stuffed giving Brazil a 25-23 win.
Set three brought a few changes to the lineup: Jaeschke for DeFalco, Patch for Anderson and McDonnell for Holt. This match was also fairly tight although USA had two aces a piece from Kawika Shoji and Thomas Jaeschke. Team USA had four set points this set but couldn’t close as Brazil finished the set and match with an ace.
The available stats didn’t give a clear hitting percentage but Team USA ended up with 7 aces and 4 blocks. Anderson and Russell shared honors with 10 points each.
On Saturday night Coach Speraw continued to adjust his starting lineup by inserting Micah Christenson for Kawika Shoji at setter, Davis Smith for Max Holt at middle, moving Matt Anderson to the outside position (DeFalco) and inserting Ben Patch as the opposite. The first set looked very much like Friday nights sets with each team trading points and no team having a margin larger than two points. Team USA had their first set point off an Anderson high hands kill but a Jendryk serve went long. Fortunately, the next Brazil serve was also long giving USA a 25-23 set one win.
Coach Speraw kept the same starters for set two. This set was also tight with neither team getting more than a two point lead until the very end. The blocking machines got started on both sides as USA had 5 blocks and Brazil had 4. Ben Patch seemed to be having difficulties getting frequently stuffed and hitting into the net. While maybe all of the sets weren’t the best, the opposite position is supposed to be “go to” position for out of system (OOS) plays. Brazil won the set 25-22 on a bic kill evening out the match at 1 set a piece.
In set three, Coach Speraw again tinkered with the starting lineup. Max Holt replaced Jendryk at middle with everyone else the same. He did rotate the positions with Holt, Anderson and Christenson in the front row and Patch, Jaeschke and Smith across the back row. The blocking continued for both sides as each had four block kills. At the 10-10 mark Brazil continued to push and Team USA never could catch-up. USA was finally able to tie it up at 23 after tight net play and Anderson winning a joust. A quick left side kill by Brazil and a Team USA dump that went long (contested for a touch but lost) resulted in Brazil taking set three 25-23.
In the fourth set, Speraw kept the starters but dialed their positions to adjust for match-ups. Christenson, Smith and Jaeschke started in the front row. Anderson, Holt and Patch were in the back row. Team USA chipped away in the middle of the set with two point runs and a few Brazil hitting errors resulting in a 14-11 USA lead. At 16-11 Matt Anderson stepped up with back-to-back aces including both a hard hit ace followed-up with a cut shot ace. The next serve almost became a third ace in a row but was dug. The resulting overpass ended up being another USA point. USA continued to push points resulting in a 20-13 lead. Brazil made a push at the end with Team USA having 4 set point chances. Matt Anderson was able to finish the set with another bic kill giving USA a 25-22 set win and tying up the match at 2 sets a piece. Team USA had 3 service aces and 1 block kill for the set.
The crowd was going crazy with the match heading into the 5th and final set. USA was able to move to a 4-2 lead including a Patch ace, Anderson bic and a Jaeschke high hand kill but Brazil quickly recovered with a four point push with blocking and USA having set placement issues. It was Brazil up at 8-6 during the side switch. A Christenson serve which hit the tape and dropped finally got USA tied up at 8 each. Both sides traded points up to a 16-16 tie.Brazil got a quick middle attack for set point then won a joust that resulted from a USA overpass on serve receive.That gave Brazil the 18-16 set win and a 3-2 match win.
Overall Team USA had 8 aces and 13 block kills for the night. The weekend 0-3 and 2-3 match results matched their performance the previous week in Brazil. The Chicago crowds once again filled the stadium creating a great atmosphere and included having hundreds of fans waiting for almost an hour after the match to meet the team to get selfies and signatures.