Daily 49er

USA Volleyball takes on Russia at the Walter Pyramid

The United States men’s national volleyball team defeated their Russian counterparts on Friday and Saturday.

Outside+hitter+Matt+Anderson+goes+for+a+kill+against+Russia%E2%80%99s+Igor+Kolodinsky+in+the+USA%E2%80%99s+win+on+Saturday+at+the+Walter+Pyramid.+The+US+won+in+straight+sets+25-23%2C+25-21+and+25-16.
Outside hitter Matt Anderson goes for a kill against Russia’s Igor Kolodinsky in the USA’s win on Saturday at the Walter Pyramid. The US won in straight sets 25-23, 25-21 and 25-16.

Outside hitter Matt Anderson goes for a kill against Russia’s Igor Kolodinsky in the USA’s win on Saturday at the Walter Pyramid. The US won in straight sets 25-23, 25-21 and 25-16.

Bobby Yagake

Bobby Yagake

Outside hitter Matt Anderson goes for a kill against Russia’s Igor Kolodinsky in the USA’s win on Saturday at the Walter Pyramid. The US won in straight sets 25-23, 25-21 and 25-16.

Josh Barajas, Sports Editor

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The nearly sold-out Walter Pyramid was buzzing on Saturday with high levels of American patriotism as the national team made its way to Long Beach for the FIVB World League.

The “USA” chants began as early as a half hour before game time and continued throughout the night. One by one, the Russian and American players stepped up to the net and stared at each other through it as the first serve of the night neared.

“We rarely have pro-USA crowds,” libero Erik Shoji said. “This crowd was awesome, especially that they were all dressed up and cheering really hard.”

The 5,200 people present quieted down for the national anthems, but the American faithful immediately erupted after the “Star Spangled Banner” wrapped up.

The game finally began around 7 p.m. Both sides batted the ball back and forth for a while before star of the night, outside hitter Matt Anderson smashed a ball down for the first kill of the match. Again, the stands exploded as USA took the first lead.

The fans actually never let up as team USA took the first two sets from a scrappy Russian side 25-23 and 25-21. In fact, the Pyramid kicked into a different gear and got even louder on three occasions on Saturday. All three occurred when former 49er, middle blocker David Lee briefly checked into the game three times and received a thundering ovation from his home crowd.

USA’s opposite Troy Murphy puts a ball past Russia’s Smoliar Artem and Markin Alexander.

Bobby Yagake
USA’s opposite Troy Murphy puts a ball past Russia’s Smoliar Artem and Markin Alexander.

USA came out in the third set with the intention of putting Russia away and moving on to their next challenge. The Americans got off to a quick 15-4 lead before Russia managed to score six points in a row to make it 15-10.

“We really wanted to get off to a good start [in the third set],” Shoji said. “[At 15] I think we relaxed a little bit.”

Opposite Pavel Moroz, who led the Russian’s with 12 points, taunted the crowd by flexing his enormous biceps to get his team going. USA answered by taking the next three points and never looked back, winning the final set of the night 25-16.

The Americans’ weekend in Long Beach was a success; they swept Russia and moved to 4-0 in World League play. USA will play 2014 FIVB World Volleyball champions Poland next in Hoffman Estates, Illinois on June 12-13.

“We actually beat [Poland] in [the 2014 championship tournament], which was a really nice win for us,” Shoji said. “But, we’ve just got to keep getting better and be consistent and play our game.”

USA and Russia will eventually meet again, like they always do, on June 26 in Kaliningrad. Anderson explained that match will be much tougher than Friday and Saturday’s games.

“This wasn’t the starting Russian team, they left some guys at home.” Anderson said. “We know that next time we play them it’s going to be a different match.”

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