The United States men's Olympic volleyball team played itself back into medal contention, beating France, 25-22, 25-22, 14-25, 25-22 at the Maracanazinho Arena on Saturday in Rio to even its group play record to 2-2 with one match remaining.
A 3- or 4-set victory over Mexico on Monday should be enough to ensure a spot in the quarterfinal round.
A letdown from Thursday's huge win over Brazil became a concern in the first set against the French, as the U.S. fell behind 17-10.
“France plays some amazing defense," USA outside hitter Aaron Russell said. “When you see a ball that you think is going outside the court and they're able to bring it back, it's a little bit scary. I think we held our composure in the end."
The U.S worked their way back in the first set with a 5-0 run behind the serving of outside hitter Taylor Sander. The run included an ace and two blocks and pulled the team to within two at 17-15.
With France leading 19-17, it served into the net and the U.S. scored the next four straight points behind opposite Matt Anderson's serving to take the lead at 22-19.
The U.S. took set point at 24-20 on an Anderson kill. France scored on a kill and a U.S. violation before Russell connected on a kill to end the set.
Anderson and Russell, who went into the match leading all scorers in the tournament, led the U.S. on Saturday as each had 18 points. Sander added 13 points. France's Antonin Rouzier led all scorers with 25 points.
France led in kills (55-47) and aces (4-3) while the U.S. led in blocking (11-8). The U.S. scored on 28 of France's errors while committing 24.
After the U.S. came back from a 16-13 deficit to win the second set, France came out with strong serving and passing in the third set and took a 10-3 lead before sailing to the 25-14 victory.
“We've got to figure out a way to get up 2-0 and maintain our focus," Speraw said. “We're going to have a little chat about that."
Anderson felt good about the way the U.S. came back in the fourth.
“We had a little bit of a lull in starting the third set, giving us a big rut to climb out of," Anderson said. “But we got a little bit of energy toward the end of the third set and came back in the fourth."