Sander shows the way for USA against China


Ningbo, China, May 27 - Taylor Sander showcased his all-round skills and the wing spiker's 17 points led the USA to a 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-18) victory over China and a 3-0 sweep of their first round matches in the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League. 

China worked hard across the first two sets but when the Americans staved off one set point in the second, and then won it thanks to an audacious Sander ace, the visitors switched into overdrive. 

Backing Sander's heroics up was opposite spiker Benjamin Patch with 14 points, and wing spiker Torey Defalco's 13 that included four blocks.

The world rankings - number two for the USA compared to number 20 for China - had been quickly forgotten as the home side rose to the occasion. They pressured the Americans all through the first set and again in the second.

But the USA leaned heavily on their superior experience in the third to break free and breathe easy. It was opposite spiker Jiang Chuan with 15 points who shone brightly for the locals, along with middle blocker Shuhan Rao (seven points).

Much of China's play - in both opening matches of this first round - had centred around the 23-year-old Chuan whose 23 points against Argentina were almost a third of China's total of 75 in that match while he contributed a team and match-high 17 points in the loss to Bulgaria.

Chuan was again a pillar for the Chinese but facing the Americans was always going to prove a different test entirely. The USA don't give much away, not with the pincer-like probing of libero Erik Shoji's serves and their formidable presence at net.

The USA now take that 3-0 record (and their 14-3 overall mark against China) into the second round in Goiania, Brazil, from June 1, while China can be happy enough with a record of 1-2, given their world ranking, and will next head to Lodz, Poland, for their next round of matches, beginning on the same day.


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