Hosts and 2018 bronze medallists USA defeated 2018 runners-up France in four sets 3-1 (25:16, 25:22, 23:25, 25:21) in their first match in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League Finals in Chicago. Middle blocker Maxwell Holt led his team with 17 points, while Aaron Russell also contributed with 16. Jean Patry was the top-scorer for France scoring 17 points.
Coach John Speraw’s USA team claimed nine victories in 15 matches during the Preliminary Round to finish in the top six and earn a place in the Finals despite being automatically qualified as the tounrnament hosts.
France reached the Finals in Chicago with a total of 11 victories from 15 matches. They also lost to their opponents on Wednesday in four sets when the two teams met in Cannes, France in week 3 of the competition (you can also see our gallery of the match).
USA head coach John Speraw: “I think it feels great to get the first win in the VNL Finals – it is a big deal. It wasn’t a very pretty match on either side, and I think (France head coach) Laurent (Tillie) would probably agree with me. I am just pleased to win enough points to move on to the next match.”
USA head coach John Speraw on the limited training time together with these particular 14 players: “I would have liked to have seen them serve, pass, hit, dig and block a little better. But I think we will go back and watch and learn a lot. We obviously just put this team together on Monday for the first time this summer. It wasn’t as sharp, and you could see that with the connections with Micah (Christenson) and Matty (Anderson).”
USA captain Taylor Sander: “We are really excited and grateful to put this event on. To be here playing in Chicago and having so many family and friends, and then our home crowd has been amazing. We are just excited to be back on our home soil because we don’t get a chance to play here much.”
USA captain Taylor Sander on the team getting the kinks out in their first match back together: “That is exactly what it was. We were just trying to do our best. It wasn’t clean volleyball all the way through, but we found a way to win and that is what we needed to do when we weren’t feeling 100 percent. It was our first game back together in a long time. It is always going to be a little difficult, but I think we handled it well.”
France captain Benjamin Toniutti; “I think we know USA is a really strong team in service and block. They put a lot of pressure on us, and that was difficult for us. We had some opportunities to win the second set, and maybe that changed the game a little. It was good that we came back in the third set, but it was not enough.”
France captain Benjamin Toniutti on playing Russia on Thursday: “We have to play a little smarter than today. We tried to kill every ball, and we know that is rather difficult against this kind of block. Tomorrow will be the same against Russia as they have a strong block as well.”
France coach Laurent Tillie added: “USA were better prepared and more aggressive and they created a lot of problems for us from the start. We tried to find solutions but it was quite difficult. But we had a good reaction in the third set and that is interesting. The next match is Russia and we will have to repeat what we did in the last sets today with a little more energy. The two teams made a lot of errors on serves today, and I hope we will be able to improve on this tomorrow.”
2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, Final Six:
Brazil – Poland 2-3 (23:25, 25:23, 21:25, 25:21, 9:15)
USA – France 3-1 (25:16, 25:22, 23:25, 25:21)
Source and Photos: volleyball.world