Bari, Italy, September 12, 2018 - The third and last match on the schedule for the opening day of action at PalaFlorio in Bari delivered high-level volleyball for more than two hours. The United States eventually edged Serbia 3-2 (15-25, 25-14, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10) at the end of a truly dramatic match where they came back twice from one set down. Matthew Anderson along with his teammate Aaron Russell top scored with 19 points for the United States. On the Serbian side of the net, outside spiker Uros Kovacevic recorded the same number of points while opposite Aleksandar Atanasijevic contributed 13 for Serbia.
A passionate crowd welcomed the teams and filled the venue during the warm-up session. The clash offered a high-level line-up with seven out of 12 players taking to the court currently playing in the Italian national league. Setter Micah Christenson, middle blocker Maxwell Holt, outside spiker Aaron Russell and team captain Taylor Sander on the American side have all been playing or have played in Italy for a number of years, as have Serbian outside hitters Uros Kovacevic and Nemanja Petric. The same applies to the reigning Italian national league champions Aleksandar Atanasijevic and Marko Podrascanin.
The much-anticipated matchup starring the United States and Serbia lived up to all expectations and offered a thrilling show likely to shape the final standings in Pool C.
The first set was all in favour of Serbia, who claimed a 16-12 lead at the second technical timeout. The same plot followed in the next stages of the game where with the help of Uros Kovacevic, who scored three impressive aces, Serbia rushed to the final score of 25-15.
Despite a poor start on the American side, the men coached by John Speraw fought back and managed to put up a more consistent effort, thus forcing their rivals into greater difficulties. As a result, the United States claimed the second set at a landslide 25-14.
The third set offered a highly entertaining game with both teams exchanging the lead a number of times. However, it was Serbia who eventually prevailed 25-21 and sealed a 2-1 lead in the match.
The men around Nikola Grbic tried to react when trailing in the fourth set and attempted to make it tough for Speraw’s team, but USA had the upper hand. The tiebreak saw the United States dominating the scene from the early stages and confirming their supremacy to secure a 3-2 victory at 15-10.