VOLLEYBALL: U.S. sweeps Russia to open men’s World Champs final pool

Still undefeated, the United States men’s national volleyball team swept Russia – 25-22, 25-23, 25-23 – to win its opening game in the final pool in the FIVB World Championships in Turin on Thursday. Results:

∙ 26 September:
Pool I: Brazil d. Russia, 3-2
Pool J: Serbia d. Italy, 3-0

∙ 27 September:
Pool I: U.S. d. Russia, 3-0
Pool J: Poland d. Serbia, 3-0

∙ 28 September:
Pool I: U.S. vs. Brazil
Pool J: Italy vs. Poland

The U.S. (9-0) and Brazil (8-1) are into the semifinals, as is Serbia (7-3), with the winner of the Italy (8-1) vs. Poland (7-2) game to join them.

The U.S. is the last undefeated team in the tournament and has won 27 of 33 sets. Italy has a 23-9 sets win/loss ratio; Brazil’s is 25-10, Serbia’s is 23-15 and defending champion Poland’s is 24-9.

The U.S. is being powered by a ferocious attack from outside hitters, 6-4 (1.93 m) Taylor Sander and 6-9 (2.06 m) Aaron Russell (pictured) and opposite, 6-9 Matt Anderson. They’re 1-2-3 in the tournament in scoring efficiency, with Anderson killing 57.99% of his attempts, Sander at 56.76% and Russell at 56.15%. Russell and Anderson are nos. 6-7 in scoring in the tournament with 119 and 115 points, respectively.

“Micah Christenson is a great setter and when we are in-system, he can set any position on the court from any position on the court,” Russell said. “Today, we were able to tackle them down the middle and we were able to fight off some difficult [Russian] serves.”

The semis will take place on 29 September and the medal matches on the 30th. All of these games will be in Turin (ITA). Look for scores here.