Matt Anderson

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U.S. men’s volleyball extends medal streak with bronze in World Cup

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With its medal-winning streak in jeopardy, the defending champion U.S. men’s volleyball team beat Egypt 22-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-13 on Tuesday in Hiroshima, Japan. Poland beat Iran later in the day to slip past the U.S. for silver behind unbeaten Brazil.

The experienced U.S. men have claimed a medal in the last four major international tournaments — gold in the 2015 World Cup, bronze in the 2016 Olympics, bronze in the 2018 world championships and bronze in this year’s World Cup. The men also placed second in the 2019 Nations League and third in the first Nations League in 2018, though the team failed to medal in the last two editions of the World League in 2016 and 2017.

Most importantly for next year, the U.S. men swept their Olympic qualification tournament in August.

Micah Christenson was named best setter of the tournament, as he was in the 2015 tournament and in the 2018 world championships. Middle blocker Max Holt was also named to the tournament “Dream Team.

VIDEO: U.S.-Egypt highlights

The U.S. team’s World Cup started with a five-set loss to Argentina, which went on to finish fifth. The U.S. rebounded to beat Italy, world champion Poland, host Japan, Tunisia and Iran before losing to eventual champion Brazil. Border rival Canada took the U.S. to five sets, but sweeps against Australia and Brazil put the team in position to clinch its medal.

Heading into next year’s Olympics, the U.S. team has several internationally accomplished players. In addition to Christenson’s multiple awards, Matt Anderson was named the best opposite hitter in the world championship and Nations League in 2018, and Aaron Russell was named to the Dream Team in the 2016 Olympics. Russell, playing for Italian team Trentino, also was named MVP of the World Club Championship in December.

The U.S. women’s team also won two medals this year gold in the Nations League, silver in the World Cup and swept its own qualification tournament.

This success comes despite the lack of a professional league in the United States. USA volleyball announced last week it has processed paperwork for 257 women and 82 men to play in foreign leagues for the 2019-20, with more players to follow.

The World Cup is contested every four years, the year before the Olympics. The world championship takes place in even non-Olympic years. Qualification for the World Cup is more difficult — only 12 teams reach the tournament, while 24 teams take part in the world championship. 

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WATCH LIVE: Final group day of volleyball features USA men in must win

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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It’s win and move on, lose and go home — so to speak — for the United States men’s volleyball team when it faces Mexico on Monday in Rio.

The 2-2 men sit fifth in the table but are the only team yet to play winless Mexico, a side with just one set won to its credit so far.

With 2-2 Brazil playing 2-2 France, both sides the U.S. has beaten, a win would push the Americans into the Top Four (and the knockout rounds).

USA players Matt Anderson and Aaron Russell are tied for second in points this tournament, with Erik Shoji pacing the tourney with 2.0 digs per game.

WATCH LIVE:

Men’s volleyball — 9:30 a.m. EDT

USA vs. Mexico — 11:35 a.m. EDT

U.S. Olympic men’s volleyball team named; Reid Priddy sets age record

Reid Priddy
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The U.S. Olympic men’s indoor volleyball team is headlined by Reid Priddy, who at 38 will become the oldest U.S. Olympic men’s indoor player ever, according to sports-reference.com.

Priddy joined the retired Lloy Ball as the only U.S. men’s indoor volleyball players to make four Olympic teams.

“It would be the most significant of them all because of the mountains that had to be climbed,” Priddy said recently, according to Flovolleyball.

Priddy came back from suffering a torn ACL during a match in June 2014, his right knee buckling on a landing from a kill attempt. Priddy fell to the court and writhed, causing a mid-point play stoppage (video here). He got injured again in 2015 and didn’t return in full to the national team until this spring.

Priddy will be joined in Rio by a squad including four-time reigning U.S. Player of the Year Matt Anderson, who goes to his second Olympics after being the youngest member of the London 2012 team that lost in the quarterfinals.

Plus 2014 and 2015 collegiate Players of the Year Taylor Sander and Thomas Jaeschke. Jaeschke, 22, is the youngest U.S. Olympic men’s indoor player since 2000.

Priddy and David Lee are the only returning members from the 2008 Beijing Olympic team that took gold.

The U.S. men were ranked No. 5 in the world as of last October. They were seventh at the 2014 World Championship, took bronze in the 2015 World League and won the 2015 World Cup against a field that did not include world No. 1 Brazil.

MORE: U.S. women’s volleyball team takes risk with peer reviews

2016 U.S. Olympic men’s volleyball team
Matt Anderson — 2012
Micah Christenson
Max Holt
Tom Jaeschke
David Lee — 2008, 2012
Reid Priddy — 2004, 2008, 2012
Aaron Russell
Taylor Sander
Erik Shoji
Kawika Shoji
David Smith — 2012
Murphy Troy