USA Volleyball: Men lose VNL final; women win Pan Am Cup

The U.S. women's national team that won the Pan Am Cup on Sunday. Photo courtesy of FIVB.

Taylor Sander had 20 points, including 17 kills, but it wasn’t enough as Russia defended its FIVB Volleyball Nations League title with a 25-23, 20-25, 25-21, 25-20 victory over the United States in the championship of the VNL Finals at Credit Union1 Arena in Chicago on Sunday.

Matt Anderson added 19 points, 18 of them kills, for the Americans (11-7, 2-1), who finished with silver after earning bronze in last year’s inaugural season. Poland downed Brazil to earn bronze earlier Sunday.

Anderson was named MVP of the VNL Finals and three other players were named to the FIVB Dream Team: Micah Christenson was named Best Setter. Erik Shoji was named Best Libero and Max Holt was named Best Middle Blocker.

“It’s tough to be happy with losing a gold medal match,” Anderson said. “I am happy with the way that I played. But I can play a lot better. I’m going to work really hard these next two weeks before we take off for the qualification as I’m sure all of us are.”

The U.S. was looking for its first major international tournament victory on home soil since winning gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and its first world level title since winning the FIVB World Cup in 2015.

Shoji, a former Stanford All-American, ranked 12th during the preliminary round with 1.24 digs per set. Shoji ranked sixth during the finals, averaging 1.56 digs per set. American Garrett Muagututia was third in receiving with a 21.52 efficiency percentage.

Women’s volleyball

Stanford senior Kathryn Plummer contributed an ace to the United States 25-16, 25-21, 29-27 victory over the Dominican Republic in the gold medal match of the Pan American Cup in Trujillo, Peru on Sunday.

The Americans’ top scorers were Kingdon Rishel, Karsta Lowe and Hannah Tapp with 18, 16 and 12 points respectively.

The U.S. won its second consecutive World Cup and its seventh overall in the 18th edition of the event.

“I am very proud of my team,” U.S. captain Micha Hancock said. “We have very young athletes but they all had a great tournament. Dominican is always a good opponent but they were not at their best today. I think the third set was more to the level they play.”

The United States used several of its senior national team members for the tournament though the majority were making their debut with the national team, including Plummer, who has led Stanford to a pair of NCAA titles through her first three years at the school.

Hancock, named the most valuable player and Best Setter of the Pan Am Cup, set Team USA to a 41 kill percent and .257 hitting efficiency (43-16-105). The American defense limited Dominican Republic to a 38 kill percent and .198 hitting efficiency (33-16-86).

— Palo Alto Sports Online/FIVB

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