USA roll into third round with a straight-sets defeat of Bulgaria


Sofia, Bulgaria, September 22, 2018 – USA remain unbeaten after demolishing co-hosts Bulgaria 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-18) to ensure the top spot in Pool G. While The Lions suffered their third defeat of the 2018 FIVB Men’s World Championship to go on the brink of elimination.

Playing on Independence Day Bulgaria welcomed back captain Viktor Yosifov who replaced Gotsev in the starting line-up. But it was Nikolay Uchikov who provided the early spark. After his subpar performance against Iran the wing spiker opened the game with a couple of spikes and a block. But USA quickly erased the early deficit and led 8-6 at the first technical break after two serve bombs by David Smith. Christenson and Russell each served an ace during the 5-1 run that got the score to 19-14 and Taylor Sander’s spike closed the set 25-20.

Things got even bleaker for Bulgaria in Set 2 as the reception was totally destroyed. Coach Konstantinov replaced Bratoev with Nikolay Penchev but USA got on a 10-4 run to lead by six at the second technical timeout. And once again it was Sander who got the winning point for a 25-20. This time with an ace.

Coach Konstantinov opted for Miroslav Gradinarov instead of Uchikov to start Set 3 and the early results were promising. Bulgaria led all the way to 12-10 but a 6-1 outburst changed the momentum and the Americans never looked back. And for the third time Sander got the last touch!

Aaron Russell was top scorer for USA with 16 points (15 spikes and an ace). Sander got 12, Anderson – 11, as coach John Speraw made just one substitution during the whole match when Daniel McDonnell came in on serve at 23:17 in the final set!