Chicago, USA , June 15, 2018 - The USA kept their push for the VNL finals on course but a perfect night which saw Serbia flattened 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-14) was tarnished with a nasty looking knee injury to Thomas Jaeschke.
The American wing spiker was enjoying himself and had nine points when a mistimed spike in the third set saw him land awkwardly before falling to the ground clutching his leg.
It didn’t make easy viewing on the replay and coach John Speraw will be hoping the problem isn’t serious as the race to reach the finals in France begins to really hot up.
“We passed really well which allowed us to run a great offense, said Micah Christenson. “ The more we play, the greater the connection. It feels great to play at home. We will need you all weekend.”
This was a vital win for the US who were roared on by an excitable home crowd in Chicago.
Matthew Anderson (11 spikes and two aces) and Aaron Russell (10 spikes, one block and three aces) topped the scoring charts and with matches against fellow high-fliers Poland and Iran to come this weekend, getting into the groove on Friday night has set the Olympic bronze medallists up nicely for the challenges ahead.
Serbia still have hopes of making the VNL finals but will need to perform better than this - only Uros Kovacevic with seven spikes posted an impressive score with the healthiest contributor coming thanks to 20 unforced errors from the other side of the net.
Speraw’s team have now won eight of their last 10 matches and are enjoying a three match winning streak ever since that shock defeat to Germany last Friday.
The Serbians, meanwhile, crashed to their fourth defeat of the campaign, all of which have come in straight set thrashings.
Led by skipper David Smith, the USA grasped hold of the initiative early on and always had their noses in front. Their athleticism around court brought the crowd in Chicago to their feet while the likes of Anderson provided the power punch which would send most opponents sprawling on the canvas.
They can mix it up too - and no finer example came at 22-21 in the first when Christenson left Serbia flatfooted when he opted to push the ball towards the back of court rather than spiking.
It was a classy moment and one which helped the home side bag the opening set. Neither side was serving particularly well - Serbia failed to hit an ace in the entire match - though the rest of the American’s game was certainly standing up to the test.
Jaeschke was spiking well and the defense was producing some brilliant digs, especially at 20-13 in the second when a brilliantly athletic set by Maxwell Holt was crashed home by Anderson.
Speraw’s team out-spiked Serbia 14-9 and out-blocked them 3-1.
The US were rocked soon after with the injury to Jaeschke but his replacement, Torey Defalco, came off the bench to score five points and help ease his side to a comprehensive triumph.