Bari, Italy, September 18, 2018 - The team captain of USA, Taylor Sander contributed to an overwhelming 3-0 victory over African champions Tunisia (25-12, 25-18, 25-13) to finish the first round of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship 2018 in Bari with a perfect record of five wins in as many matches.
Many expected it was going to be a formality and so it was, indeed. The three points taken from the match against the bottom-ranked Tunisia were all-important for USA in order to keep first place in Pool C, before the big match between Serbia and Russia to follow later in the evening. The players around head coach John Speraw completed a five-win jackpot in five matches and finished their Apulian experience atop of the charts, with 13 points and a ticket to Sofia, Bulgaria, where they will compete in Pool G.
On the other hand, the fifth defeat in a row means Tunisia have to end their World Championship journey while treasuring it with some good promises for the future such as Ali Bongui who top scored in the match with 7 points.
In the first match on schedule for Tuesday afternoon in Bari after the stunning match played on Monday against Cameroon, John Speraw opted for a starting six featuring middle blockers Maxwell Holt and David Smith. On the other side of the net, Tunisia resorted to their rising star, opposite Ali Bongui. USA claimed 8-3 and 16-8 leads at the technical timeouts of the first set to finish it off with a comprehensive 25-12 win.
After relying on Hamza Nagga and Hakim Zouari in the first set, Tunisia head coach Antonio Giacobbe decided to start the second with his usual line-up, but changed his mind afterwards to opt for opposite Wassim Ben Tara. The USA team confirmed their starters and did not slow their pace down: as their opponents tried to level the score, setter Micah Christenson widened the gap again, with a second-touch attack and an ace. The final 25-18 score provided the USA with a comfortable 2-0 lead in the match.
The third and last set confirmed the USA supremacy with the help of middle blocker Holt who scored four aces. The men around head coach John Speraw ended their Apulian experience in Pool C as the only undefeated team after seizing a straight three-set win over Tunisia with the score of the final set being an impressive 25-13. As a result, the USA made it clear they are going to make things hard to all other teams still in contention for the trophy that will be at stake late next week in Turin.