Bari, Italy, September 15, 2018 – In front of a sell-out crowd at PalaFlorio in Bari, USA beat Russia 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 25-20) to cause a bit of a sensation in Pool C. Three American ‘musketeers’, Aaron Russell (17), Matthew Anderson (15) and Taylor Sander (12), helped by setter Micah Christenson, were pivotal to USA’s victory. Maxim Mikhaylov, Dmitriy Muserskiy and Egor Kliuka all scored 13 points for Russia in their losing effort as Dmitry Volkov added 12 to the Russian tally. USA cement their first place in Pool C with three wins in as many matches as Russia boast a 2-1 win-loss record.
The second matchup of the day featured the United States facing Russia in a full house. It was the ‘Clash of the Titans’, which almost everyone expected from the fourth day of the tournament. A passionate audience waited impatiently for this matchup, with a thrilling atmosphere and much excitement in the air.
There were no surprises in the respective line-ups: aiming to secure important points, both coaches started with the best players they had at their disposal. It was an engaging game right from the first rallies. At the first technical timeout of the opening set, USA were ahead 8-6, but Russia tied the game with the help of Muserskiy’s block. Russia made some mistakes, while the perfect approach of the Americans helped them keep the advantage until the second technical timeout, when Mikhaylov levelled the score again. Kliuka’s serving mistake helped USA close the first set 25-23 in their favour.
In the second set, Russia coach Sergei Shliapnikov decided to replace Artem Volvich with Iliyas Kurkaev. The reception became more precise on the Russian side of the court, this resulting in 8-5 and 16-12 leads at the technical timeouts. USA coach John Speraw spent one more timeout at 17-22 trying to stop the Russians, but their rivals tied the game (25-20).
David Smith took the place of Taylor Averill for Team USA in the third set. Despite facing some difficulties, the reception of the Americans could cope with the mighty Russian serves. The two teams tried to impose their rhythm until USA prevailed at 25-23. The same happened in the fourth set, played enthusiastically by the Americans who emerged victorious at 25-20 for a 3-1 victory.