Team USA picks up much-needed win in men’s volleyball

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After dropping their first two matches in Rio, the U.S. men’s volleyball team has bounced back with two consecutive wins.

Saturday night John Speraw’s team defeated France in four sets, 25-22, 25-22, 14-25, 25-22, to move to 2-2 in group play. And with their final match being against a team that has yet to earn a point in Mexico, the Americans have hope when it comes to getting out of the group. The U.S. began the day in fifth place on three points (Canada also had three points but holds the tiebreaker), and with Canada playing Mexico Saturday this was a match they had to have.

Aaron Russell was responsible for 15 kills and Matthew Anderson 14 for the Americans, with Taylor Sander adding 11 kills in the win. Anderson was especially key during the first set, scoring eight points to help spark the rally.

Trailing 17-9 in the first set, the U.S. scored 13 of the next 15 points to take a 22-19 lead. The second set was tighter, with the Americans turning a 19-19 tie into a 23-19 lead to grab control of that set. France struck back in a big way in the third set, scoring the first four and seven of the first eight points of the set. They wouldn’t look back at that point, but the U.S. did a good job of not allowing the third set to have an impact on the fourth.

The U.S. scored six of the first seven points of the fourth set, with France coming back to pull even at 10-all on a Nicolas Le Goff kill. But after taking a 13-12 lead the French would not lead again in the match, with the Americans leading by as many as three point before putting the match away on an Antonin Rouzier error.

The Americans are now even on points with France and Brazil (which has a match in hand) going into Monday’s group finale against Mexico.