Chicago, USA, June 16 , 2018 - Aaron Russell fired the USA one step closer to the VNL finals after Poland were taken apart 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-19) for the second night in succession.
Russell may have bagged the most points - 11 spikes, three aces - yet there were contributions all over the court from John Speraw’s side who go into their final match of the weekend against Iran on Sunday aiming for a clean sweep in this US swing.
Matthew Anderson (12 points) Torey Defalco and Maxwell Holt (both nine points) all made healthy contributions to what was ultimately a very one sided match as Poland, who were beaten by the Iranians on Friday evening, slumped once again to leave their participation in the finals in Lille very much in the balance.
“We had a lot of great contributions , different guys stepped up and that makes it difficult for the opposition, “ said US skipper David Smith. “It was a great atmosphere. It was loud and we are so appreciative.
“We have rotated well.”
It was another frustrating match for Polish coach Vital Heynen who lost his rag with officials once again while watching his players misfire.
Heynen made a raft of changes but the switching up of his squad did little to alter the result. Only Bartosz Bednorz - eight spikes, two blocks - reached double figures.
This defeat ensured it was the first time for two years that Poland have lost back to back matches in straight sets and, ironically, it was on this date 12 months ago that they were last defeated 3-0 at world level.
That two losses have come in two nights will be very worrying heading into Sunday’s match with Serbia and moving into week five of the VNL campaign.
Speraw didn’t shuffle his pack although one change was forced upon him - Defalco coming in for the injured Thomas Jaeschke.
And it was the wing spiker who was proving his worth in defense, a brilliant block helping establish a 20-18 lead in a first set which was pretty close until the finale. Poland just buckled under the pressure and a lengthy argument between Heynen and match officials did little to calm Polish nerves.
Holt was serving like a rocket and an 113 kph ace put the Americans on the brink of the first set before the excellent Micah Christenson delivered the decisive point from the service line.
Poland fared slightly better at the start of the second with libero Michael Zurek trying his best to turn to the tide but the momentum was firmly with the home side.
Christenson’s serve was continuing to cause problems and, together with Holt, lifted the pressure just when the Europeans had threatened to make a comeback.
The ever dangerous Russell helped seal the second and it was the wing spiker’s third ace which settled this match once and for all.
The US, who out served Poland 8-1, have four games left but can surely already start planning for the finals. Poland, meanwhile, need to get back to winning ways.