USA overcome hard resistance from Belgium after five sets


Taylor Sander was a key part of USA's hard-fought win over Belgium

Krakow, Poland, August 31, 2014 - In an unpredictable battle, USA managed to finally defeat Belgium after being twice in control, but the Red Dragons’ resilient attitude extended the game until a 3-2 (25-21, 17-25, 25-16, 21-25, 15-11).

Key points

USA stepped ahead in the head-to-head record and now lead 3-2 over Belgium.

The last time both teams met was precisely at FIVB World Championship, in 1978 in Venice.

That tournament in Italy was Belgium’s last appearance in the tournament, making a comeback in Poland after 36 years.

Current World League champion USA was also gold medal at FIVB World Championship once, in 1986

Last World League's MVP Taylor Sander pulled out an astonishing performance and topped the scorers' list with 24 kills, as the only athlete with more than 20 points. For Belgium, Sam Deroo capped 12 points and reserve player Gert Van Walle, who remained as a starter from the fourth set, was the most prolific one of his side, with 13 points. 

USA shone with consistency along the first set. Garrett Muagututia and Sander took shifts to overcome the Belgian efforts and the Americans easily cruised to a 16-12 score. Belgium, meanwhile, had no possible answer. Captain David Lee also joined in the end and he was in fact the person in charge to smash the 25-21.

However, the Red Dragons bounced back and improved their shape in the next chapter. Deroo led the charge and USA’s error rate got higher as the game went on, towards 11-7 and 16-10. Opposite Bram Van Den Dries also appeared and the gap reached a maximum width of 21-14, just a while after the final 25-17 for Belgium, achieved with a long American spike.

Just after doing great, Belgium fell behind. Tony Ciarelli entered the court to boost USA and Max Holt drilled the court to a wide 8-2 lead. It was all a downhill road for the last World League champions from then on, as the blockers did their job and Sander remained unstoppable. Belgium only could narrow the gap to 19-12, but USA took no time to finish the set by 25-16.

The game was saving another turnaround for the fourth set. A little bit spurred by some USA errors, Belgium recovered their features and dominated from beginning to end. Anderson’s efforts weren’t enough for USA, as Deroo and Van Walle combined themselves to a wide 19-13 on the board. The American side got closer with Lee (23-21), but the tie-break became true by 25-21.

In the final act, USA achieved complete control of the actions, with Sander again in his top form and Anderson completing the quest. It was already a good lead at 7-4 and it got easier towards the end. The guys coached by John Speraw celebrated after a long Belgium serve, which gave them the match by 15-11.


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