Anderson powers U.S. for epic Olympic victory vs. Brazil

When the United States needed him the most, the four-time USA Volleyball Player of the Year delivered.

Opposite Matt Anderson had a match-high 23 kills on a .442 attack percentage as the United States beat previously undefeated Brazil 25-20, 25-23, 20-25, 25-20 on Thursday in Rio to end its two-match Olympic losing streak.

Anderson despite suffering from leg cramps midway through the fourth game led the United States (1-2, 3 points Pool A) in kills for the second time in the last three matches. The 2015 FIVB World Cup Most Valuable Player also added an ace and five digs in the team’s first victory of the Olympic tournament.

Anderson was one of two U.S. players and former Penn State All-Americans with double-digit kills against Brazil (2-1, 6 points Pool A). Outside attacker Aaron Russell finished with 17 kills — his second consecutive match with at least 15 kills.

Setter Micah Christeson led the U.S. offense to out-hit Brazil .363 to .306. This was the second consecutive match that Christenson guided the United States to more than a .350 attack percentage.


Chirstenson also had four kills and a tournament-high four aces, including two aces late in the second game to help the United States secure a comeback victory and take a two-game lead.

The United States ended the match with nine aces. Former BYU All-American outside attacker Taylor Sander contributed two aces, while Russell and middle attacker Max Holt each had one ace.

Along with the tournament-best performance serving, U.S. libero Erik Shoji had a tournament-high 13 digs. It was the first time the former Stanford All-American libero had double-digit digs in an Olympic match.

Brazil opposite Souza de Wallace in the loss finished with a team-high 13 kills. In addition, middle attacker Lucas Saatkamp added eight kills, two aces and led all players with four blocks.

The United States (1-2, 3 points Pool A) entering the match winless in pool-play now moves into a tie for fourth place with two pool-play matches remaining. The top-four teams in Pool A at the end of the pool-play stage will advance to the quarterfinals.

This also was the first time since 2011 that the United States won a road match against Brazil.

The United States will continue pool-play with a match against France (2-1, 6 points Pool A) on Saturday. France has won its last two matches, including sweeping Canada on Thursday to move into a tie for second place.

Brazil following this loss will play first-place Italy (3-0, 9 points Pool A) on Saturday. If Brazil wins this match it can clinch a quarterfinals berth and still remain contention for the Pool A championship.