SANDER SHOWS THE WAY FOR USA AGAINST CHINA
Ningbo, China, May 27 – Taylor Sander showcased his all-round skills and the wing spiker’s 17 points lead the USA to a 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-18) victory over China and a 3-0 sweep of their first round matches in the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
China worked hard across the first two sets but when the Americans staved off one set point in the second, and then won it thanks to an audacious Sander ace, the visitors switched into overdrive.
Backing Sander’s heroics up was opposite spiker Benjamin Patch with 14 points, and wing spiker Torey Defalco’s 13 that included four blocks.
The world rankings – number two for the USA compared to number 20 for China – had been quickly forgotten as the home side rose to the occasion. They pressured the Americans all through the first set and again in the second.
But the USA leaned heavily on their superior experience in the third to break free and breathe easy. It was opposite spiker Chuan Jiang with 15 points who shone brightly for the locals, along with middle blocker Rao Shuhan (seven points.
Much of China’s play – in both opening matches of this first round – had centred around the 23-year-old Chuan whose 23 points against Argentina were almost a third of China’s total of 75 in that match while he contributed a team and match-high 17 points in the loss to Bulgaria.
Chuan was again a pillar for the Chinese but facing the Americans was always going to prove a different test entirely. The USA don’t give much away, not with the pincer-like probing of libero Erik Shoji’s serves and their formidable presence at net.
The USA now take that 3-0 record (and their 14-3 overall mark against China) into the second round in Goiania, Brazil, from June 1, while China can be happy enough with a record of 1-2, given their world ranking, and will next head to Lodz, Poland, for their next round of matches, beginning on the same day.
USA coach John Speraw: “We haven’t played China in a long time. I am very impressed with their development. Their young players have potential. Tonight we played a very good volleyball match. We didn’t play perfect volleyball, but we played poised volleyball. We are very happy to play against China. I am sure we will see China again soon and we wish the team the best of luck.”
USA captain David Smith: “We are satisfied with the results of this weekend. The win is very important and it showed our spirit. We have not seen them in a long time. Watching their video, they are an impressive team to face and they showed it on the court tonight. I think they have a bright future. I am very happy for our team, some of our guys have their Volleyball Nations League debut tonight and they did very well.”
USA player Taylor Sander: “I am very happy to win. It was a very fun match. I played in China last year and it was nice to come back here with Team USA. China are a good young team and it was fun playing here. Last year, we were 0-3. We had no wins after the first weekend, so this is actually great for us.
China coach Raul Lozano: “They limited us especially with their strong service. The first set was quite balanced, but we had a chance to win the second set. We were obviously limited in the last set.
“All of these are precious experience for China. We will find our gaps in this tournament then we will seek the right direction to move forward. The three matches delighted us a lot. We had some difficult moments but we should consider learning and improving at this point. We learned a lot from this and I believe the players played well in the previous two matches. We just weren’t able to continue that in our performance tonight.
“As the coach of China, my ultimate goal is the Olympic Games, but now we should have our own tactics and preliminary personnel structure. I have a lot of young players and I want to rotate them to test who can withstand the challenges in international matches. I hope we can narrow the gap but we still have a lot to learn.”
China captain Ji Daoshuai: “There is a huge difference between us and them and we should learn from them in aspects. Today we played the game with the attitude of learning and we acquired a lot of knowledge. Although we lost the match, we still did a good job because some of our substitutes played well.”