USC setter Micah Christenson will be returning to campus with a gold medal.
Christenson had a match-high two aces and guided the United States offense as it defeated Brazil 31-29, 21-25, 25-20, 25-23 on Sunday in Florence, Italy to win the nation’s first FIVB World League championship in six years.
As the only current college player on U.S. active roster, Christenson helped lead the United States to out-hit Brazil .344 to .224 in the championship match. In addition, the youngest player on the U.S. roster started almost every match during the two-month international tournament.
Christenson, a senior and the 2014 Lloy Ball Award recipient for the nation’s best setter in college men’s volleyball, also added two kills and two block against Brazil.
Former Penn State All-American outside attacker Matt Anderson and former BYU All-American outside attacker Taylor Sander in the championship victory each had a match-high 22 kills. In addition, Sander was the named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and the Best Outside Spiker for his championship match performance.
Anderson in the title clinching fourth game also had a game-high four kills and the championship-winning kill.
Brazil had three players finish the match with double-digit kills as outside attacker Wallace De Souze had a team-high 14 kills.
The United States out-blocked Brazil 14-11. Former Long Beach State middle attacker David Lee led all players with seven blocks and was selected as the tournament’s Best Blocker.
The United States and Brazil in the fourth game were tied at 20. However, the United States scored four of the next six points, including an ace from former UCLA outside attacker Garrett Muagututia and a block from Lee to help set up Anderson’s championship-winning kill.
Sander had a game-high six kills in the third game. In addition, the United States led by as many as eight points as it won the game to take a one-game led in the match.
With the second game tied 15, Brazil scored five consecutive points to take its biggest lead of the game and went on to even the match at 1-1.
The United States opened the match with a game-one overtime victory and fought off multiple game-points in the overtime, including having a potential Brazil game-winning point overturned on a video challenge.
Sander added a game-high eight kills in the first game, while Anderson added seven kills.
This was the third time that the United States had reached the FIVB World League championship match.
The United States captured its first World League title in 2008 before winning an Olympic gold medal later that year. In addition, the United States lost to Poland in the 2012 championship match.
The FIVB World League championship is also the first FIVB title for the United States under head coach John Speraw. Speraw, a long-time U.S. Men’s National Team assistant coach and the current UCLA men’s volleyball head coach, was hired last year to coach the United States through the 2016 Olympics.