The only current college player on the U.S. roster stepped up in a championship match to help the United States clinch a berth to the World Championship.
Penn State All-American outside attacker Aaron Russell had seven kills and a match-high two aces as the United States swept Guatemala 25-18, 25-22, 25-15 on Sunday in Colorado Springs, Colorado to win the gold medal at NORCECA World Championship Qualifier.
Russell, the youngest player on the U.S. roster, came off the bench after the opening game and was one of four players with at least five kills in the victory. Former UC Irvine opposite Carson Clark finished with a match-high 11 kills against Guatemala.
This was the second consecutive match that Russell was among the U.S. leaders in kills. The senior also had seven kills to help the United States sweep Haiti on Saturday to advance to the championship match.
Along with his offensive performance, Russell was named the tournament’s Best Spiker.
The United States had four players earn individual tournament awards, including former Stanford libero Erik Shoji who was named the tournament MVP, Best Libero, Best Digger and Best Receiver.
With this victory, the United States qualifies for the FIVB World Championship in Poland beginning in August.