Big hitters Matt Anderson and Ivan Zaytsev faced off in a hotly contested match
Hiroshima, Japan, September 12, 2015 – USA remained unbeaten at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup Japan 2015 on Saturday
on Saturday as they held off a determined challenge from Italy, winning in straight sets (25-18, 25-23, 29-27).
The previously hyped battle between Ivan Zaytsev and Matt Anderson delivered, with the former top scoring on 19 points while the latter claimed 17. But it was David Lee, who contributed 11 points including three blocks, who took the Most Impressive Player title.
There was not much between both sides as the match gathered pace early on. USA broke free first, going ahead by three points before an Anderson ace took it to 13-9 as Gian Lorenzo Blengina called a timeout. Anderson followed with another thumping ace though. That four point advantage was maintained as the US block and serve pressured Italy further before a Maxwell Holt spike ended the set in his side’s favour.
The roles were reversed at the start of the second, with Italy’s block and serve game causing issues for their American counterparts. USA tried to narrow the gap, but a serve error followed by an ace from Zaytsev and a block saw the Italians stretching their lead again. Italy’s advantage continued to grow as USA struggled to string together a serving run. However, they finally managed to catch up on 14-all and went into the second technical timeout ahead 16-15. The US gifted the lead back to Italy though on a rotation error but fought back and regained the lead at 23-22. A wonderful ace from Anderson brought up match point as USA went 2-0 up.
The second set loss affected Italy in the third as frustration got the better of them in the early exchanges. This saw USA take a 4-1 advantage but the Azzuri got their act together and went into the second technical timeout 16-15 up. Some confusion on the number of Italian substitutions followed, but despite the pause in play Italy kept driving towards the set victory. US drew level at 23-23 and Italy faulted to bring up match point. However, Italy would not let the match go, with some tense play seeing USA need four match points to wrestle the set and match from their rival’s grasp to remain unbeaten.