Team USA: A victory in men's volleyball, a loss in water polo

Stanford grads Kawika Shoji (front left) and Erik Shoji (22) pose with Team USA before the opening match of the FIVB Men's World Championships in Italy. Photo courtesy of FIVB.

Matthew Anderson and Aaron Russell each had 19 points, including 15 kills, and the United States men's national volleyball team opened the FIVB Men's World Championship with a 15-25, 25-14, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10 victory over Serbia in Bari, Italy on Wednesday.

Taylor Sander added 16 points on 10 kills,m 4 aces and a pair of blocks for the Americans (17-6, 1-), who meet Australia on Thursday. The Aussies were swept by Russia.

"It has not been an easy start for us," Sander said. "Nevertheless, we took advantage of our strong service and we regrouped and leveled our disadvantage. It has been a fierce battle. We are very happy we won it. Now we think about the match against Australia, because we want to repeat this important result."

Stanford grad Erik Shoji recorded nine digs for the U.S. while stter Micah Christenson had 17.

"We had some opportunities, particularly in that fourth set, to score a lot more points," U.S. coach John Speraw said. "We didn't capitalize on those and that was obviously frustrating. It was about us not getting frustrated, knowing we were capable of scoring points and continuing to improve our play throughout the course of the match."

Down 2-1 in sets, the U.S. took a 19-11 lead in the fourth set before Serbia came back with a 5-0 run. Sander stopped the momentum with a kill to make it 20-16. But two straight U.S. errors pulled Serbia to within two. The U.S scored twice on Serbia's error and a Sander block. Serbia scored two more on U.S. errors, but the U.S. scored the final three points, including a block and a kill from Russell.

The Americans led the tiebreaker 4-0. Serbia pulled to within one point at 5-4, but a kill from Holt and ace by Anderson strengthened the U.S. lead and Serbia never recovered.

The U.S. led in kills (50-46), blocks (15-12) and aces (8-5). The hitting efficiency, led by Christenson, was .393. Serbia hit .309.

Men's water polo

The USA men's national team lost its second straight match to open the FINA World Cup following a 14-8 loss to Serbia on Wednesday in Berlin.

Stanford grad Alex Bowen, Max Irving and Ben Stevenson each scored two goals. McQuin Baron made eight saves in net. Team USA closes out group play on Thursday when they meet South Africa.

Serbia took control early, posting six goals in the first quarter to open up a 6-3 lead and eventually built that to a 9-4 advantage by halftime.

In the third quarter they put the match away, scoring three unanswered goals to lead 12-4 with play moving to the fourth quarter. Team USA's offense came to life in the final period as they outscored Serbia 4-2 but it wasn't enough to overcome the deficit.

Team USA went 3 of 11 on power plays with no penalty shots attempted. Serbia was 3 of 4 on power plays and 2 for 2 in penalty shots.

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