Goiania, Brazil, June 2, 2018 - Matthew Anderson helped the USA rise above the challenge of Korea and maintain their perfect 5-0 record in the VNL with a comprehensive straight-sets 3-0 win (25-23, 25-21, 25-11).
The 6 foot eight opposite spiker was smashing the ball with his customary venom and racked up 10 spikes, two blocks and an ace as the Americans kept pace with leaders Poland as they bagged their fifth win on the spin to set them up perfectly for Sunday’s titanic clash with Brazil.
Anderson wasn’t the only hero wearing Stars and Stripes - Jake Langlois (15 points) and Torey Defalco and David Smith (nine each) were also impressive in what a great, cohesive team display from the Olympic bronze medallists.
This was another testing encounter for Korea who are now the only side in this inaugural tournament to have not won a single set.
The Asian side are the lowest ranked side in the VNL and although it’s not for a lack of effort, the competition on show have just proved to be stronger in those decisive moments.
They last beat the US at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and that record was in no danger of being broken here.
Seung-Suk Kwak (seven points) and Sung-Min Moon (five points) were the liveliest Koreans on show although 23 errors (the US finished with 22) did little to help the plight faced by Kim Hochul’s side who managed just two blocks compared to eight from their opponents.
While Anderson power was key, so too was the defensive play of captain David Smith who, once again, led from the front in style.
Smith was also spiking ferociously in a first set which was very tight with the scores level at 16-16 .
Korea were hanging in there but the US had a number of massive hitters to call upon.
Wing spiker Langlois was on hand to unleash another rocket like finish to make it 21-19 and although the Koreans managed to scramble level at 22-22 it was left to the excellent Defalco to seal the deal when his spike couldn’t be kept out.
Benjamin Patch, hero of Friday’s miraculous comeback from two sets down against Japan, was watching on from the sidelines, coach John Speraw opting to rest him ahead of the Brazil test, and the wing spiker would have been enjoying the view.
It wasn’t long before the Americans extended their lead in the second, moving easily into an 11-4 lead which helped them double their advantage and move into the third knowing more of the same would seal their second straight-sets win in the VNL.
The set stats illustrated in the gulf in power between the two sides - the USA spiked 18 winners compared to 11 from Korea and even a higher error tally from the no2 ranked side in the world (7-4) wasn’t enough to allow their opponents grab a foothold in the game.
The decider was one way traffic with Smith and Defalco keeping the pressure right on until the very end.
Yet make no mistake, it won’t be the same against the Olympic champions on Sunday.