The U.S. Men’s National Team weathered a difficult first set and found its rhythm by the fifth to beat Belgium, 17-25, 25-20, 25-21, 21-25, 15-10, in an FIVB World League match on Friday at the Pala Lottomatica in Rome.
The U.S. Men improve their record to 3-1 in World League pool play. Belgium falls to 2-2. The U.S. Men will play Australia (0-3) on Saturday.
It is not the first time the U.S. has struggled against Belgium, which took the Americans to a tie-breaker in the first match of the 2015 FIVB World Cup.
On Friday, Belgium was leading the fifth set 4-3 when it served out of bounds and U.S. setter Micah Christenson took the serve, sparking a 3-0 run including two blocks from middle David Lee. The U.S. still led at 12-10 when Christenson got the serve again on a U.S. attack. Lee’s fourth block of the match and Christenson’s fourth ace gave the Americans the win.
The U.S. Men got another strong performance from opposite Matt Anderson who scored 22 points on 20 kills, one block and one ace. Outside hitter Reid Priddy, who came into the first set as a substitute, finished with 14 points on 13 kills and one block.
“You’ve got to hand it to Belgium. They played really well. They served really well,” he said. “I think we’re still working some things out early in the season. I’m just thankful we worked hard and stayed in the game and came out with the victory.”
After falling behind 7-2 in the first set, the U.S. rode a 7-0 serving run by middle blocker David Smith, including two aces, to lead 9-7. But with the U.S. leading 11-9, it lost the serve to Belgium’s Tomas Rousseaux, who served for six straight points as U.S. errors took their toll.
The U.S. led in kills (77-69), blocks (13-4) and aces (8-5). Belgium scored 32 points on U.S. errors while committing 26.
The U.S., ranked number-one in the world, defeated Germany, 25-19, 25-22, 30-28, for the third time in 15 days as Nicole Fawcett scored 15 points during FIVB World Grand Prix Pool H action on Friday in Hong Kong.
Team USA, with a 6-1 record and 18 points, clinched a spot into the FIVB World Grand Prix Final 6 with the victory as it moved into second place in the standings.
Before Team USA competes in the Final 6 from July 6-10 in Bangkok, Thailand, it will meet No. 14 Netherlands on Saturday and Pool H host China on Sunday. ET. China, one of two undefeated teams through the first six matches of the World Grand Prix, is ranked second in the world.