The USA men are 2-0 in the FIVB Men’s World Championship as they head into Tuesday’s match against Poland, also 2-0 in Pool C.
And Poland literally has the home-country advantage. The match, set for 2:30 Eastern, is in Katowice, a city 211 miles southwest of Warsaw. You can watch on VolleyballWorld.tv.
“The matches against Poland are always exciting when you’re playing Poland in Poland,” USA coach John Speraw said. “The fans are a unique aspect of the international game today. It will be sold out and an incredibly exciting environment for our guys.
“This will certainly be a stressful environment and I’m excited to see how we respond.”
In the Volleyball Nations League earlier this summer, the USA lost to France in the gold-medal match. But along the way, the Americans lost to Poland 3-1 in preliminary play before the USA swept in the semifinals. Poland swept Italy in the third-place match.
The USA opened the World Championship with a 25-18, 25-20, 25-12 rout of Mexico and then swept Bulgaria 25-20, 25-23, 26-24.
Against Mexico, Russell Aaron and TJ DeFalco had 12 kills each and Matt Anderson, making his return, had 10.
In the Bulgaria match, Anderson 11 kills, DeFalco had 10, a block and two aces, and Russell had eight kills, two blocks and an ace. Setter Micah Christenson had a kill, four blocks and an ace. Jeff Jendryk had five kills and the other middle, David Smith, hjad three kills and a block.
Bulgaria’s Alex Nikolov, the national player of they year last season as a freshman for Long Beach State, had six kills and an asce. Tsvetan Sokolov led Bulgaria with 12 kills, two blocks and an ace.
“I knew we were in a really challenging pool, so for us to be 2-0 at this point with six set wins and zero losses is a really nice early achievement,” Speraw said. “We got good early contributions from a lot of guys on the bench. That’s always great to see and that demonstrates the investment in the larger roster throughout the course of VNL and that’s paid dividends for us here at the World Championships.”
Speraw said he was glad to insert Josh Tuaniga for Christenson later against Bulgaria, get outside Kyle Russell serves and outside Garrett Maugututia rotations.
“I think we’ve demonstrated we have some depth that can really make a difference in these matches.”
Poland also swept Bulgaria and Mexico.
The USA and Poland will have to wait to see where they end up in the elimination bracket. Pool play finishes Wednesday and the round of 16 begins Saturday in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Sunday in Gliwice, Poland, about 18 miles east of Katowice.
Obviously the USA can take a bus if it gets one of the spots in Gliwice, but will have to fly to Slovenia, about 500 miles to the southwest. The semifinals and final are back in Katowice.
“We hope to be here in the end and Poland is a likely candidate, too,” Speraw said. “I think there are a lot of good volleyball teams and Poland is one of the best volleyball teams in the world, so they could be there. So for us to have this experience now in this tournament is beneficial for us.
“We need to continue to play great teams and the longer we go through this tournament, I think the better we’ll be. We continue to get better and improve and are finding our rhythm.”