SPERAW BLAST BOOSTS AMERICANS
Ottawa, Canada, June 9, 2018 – Matthew Anderson led from the front but it took a blast from coach John Speraw to get the USA back on track and help see off Australia 3-1 (20-25 25-20 25-15 25-16).
The Olympic bronze medallists and top seeds came into the match with the Aussies still hurting from Friday’s surprise loss against Germany which saw Speraw’s push for VNL glory hit the buffers.
It looked like the hangover was still seeping through the American ranks as the lowly ranked Australians, who are languishing near the bottom of the VNL standings, amazingly took the first set with some brilliant displays, most notably from opposite spiker Thomas Hodges.
Coach Speraw was furious and ripped into players midway through the second set- and his anger did the trick as his side , thanks to Anderson’s 20 points (15 spikes, one block and four aces) and healthy contributions from Aaron Russell (17 points) and Jeffrey Jendryk (10 points) , grabbed a morale boosting win ahead of Sunday’s North American derby cruncher with Canada.
“In the first set we didn’t execute, “ said Anderson whose side gave away 29 errors compared to 25 from their opponents.
“We managed to get some more energy and that helped us turn it around.”
It was another gutsy display from the Aussies who were rocking after that electric start yet ultimately Hodges, who ended with 14 spikes while Paul Sanderson (seven points ) , were unable to cope with the power and class of the Americans as they slumped to their seventh defeat in eight VNL matches.
Australia have met the US seven times before this encounter and lost every one – yet mission impossible looked well and truly on as the first set went the way of Mark Lebedew’s side.
They had served their intentions early on by establishing a 14-8 lead with Hodges and Richards superbly stepping up to the plate. Hodges was scoring healthily – as the set grew older he already had 10 points – and spiking superbly though it was left to Trent O’Dea to deliver the killer blow.
The US , who came into the match off the back of two defeats following the defeat to Brazil in week two, were severely rocked and when a time out was called with the score at 13-11, Speraw laid into his troops in the hope of kickstarting their drive to reach the VNL final six in France towards the end of the month.
It seemed to work although an instant ace from Nehemiah Mote did little to ease the American coach’s dark mood.
But with Russell blocking well and firing up the US, the tide soon began to turn.
Russell teed up set point which was taken straight away when the Australians hit the net.
From then on, the Americans finally got back into their groove although their opponents continued to have their moments , most notably at 6-5 in the third when some brilliant defensive work on both sides of the net was a joy to behold.
The American powerhouses of Russell , Anderson and Jendryk were coming to the fore however and despite Lebdew’s men hanging in, the result was never in doubt.
The US stretched 8-0 ahead in the fourth and even though Australia posed problems made this match interesting, it wasn’t enough.
USA coach John Speraw: “In the first set I didn’t think we were very sharp. It took us a while to get into rhythm this weekend. I don’t know exactly why but I was really pleased to see that we lost the first set, played pretty poor volleyball for four sets and then came back. In the middle of the second set we were down and made a bunch of great plays defensively. We started playing with more confidence and from then on I think we played our style of play. I was pleased to see that after four and a half pretty bad sets we were able to come back and win the next three sets.”
USA captain David Smith: “In the first set we kind of carried over from yesterday. I don’t know if we we’re timid but things weren’t clicking very well and we weren’t really finding solutions for the first set and a half. Then we got challenged a little bit at the end and Aaron (Russell) kicked things off and made a block and after a great play at the net, we had another good serve and everyone else gathered from that energy and kept us moving forward. We just needed a start, we needed to make a couple plays and everybody rallied around that.
Australia coach Mark Lebedew: “We obviously began really well. We were able to get a good start, which different from yesterday as we were able to maintain it all the way through the first set. The first set was as well as we could possibly play. It’s normal from there that we would return to our normal level.
“I was a bit disappointed in the third set. I thought that in the middle of the set it was close and we had a shot, even though they were playing well. It’s tough for our guys because we are playing every day really close to our limit, so when we drop even two per cent you can really see it on the scoreboard against these guys who are a really great team. I was really happy with the way that we finished. We had some great actions and I think the crowd got really pumped up in the end.”
Australia captain Paul Carroll: “We started receiving really well from the first set to the start of the second set. Then they got a little more rhythm and our reception started falling apart. We had a great energy, we really felt the crowd behind us, but we just couldn’t keep the momentum. I have to give credit to MacDonald, he was serving amazing. We had a lot of great plays.
Tomorrow we’re going to come out with the same energy we started with today and hope we have the crowd will be with us again, they were great.”
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