U.S. survives upset scare to advance to World Championship quarterfinals

Photo courtesy of the FIVB

The most veteran player on the U.S. roster stepped up in the most critical moment to help the team avoid an upset and advance to the FIVB World Championship quarterfinals.

Middle attacker David Smith with the decisive fifth game tied 12-12 delivered a kill and then was the server for the final two points as the United States beat Turkiye 25-21, 25-17, 22-25, 19-25, 15-12 in the Round of 16 on Sunday in Poland.

Smith finished with a team-high 14 kills and had one error on a .722 attack percentage in the elimination match. The former UC Irvine middle attacker and three-time Olympian also led the United States with three blocks.

Smith was one of three U.S. players with double-digit kills against Turkiye.


Opposite Matt Anderson finished with 12 kills, including having a team-high four kills and zero attack errors in the final game. In addition, outside attacker Aaron Russell contributed 12 kills.

Both of the U.S. starting middle attackers led the team in attack percentage and committed a combined one error. Former Loyola middle attacker Jeff Jendryk had seven kills on a .700 attack percentage.

Opposite Adis Lagumdzija in the loss ended with a match-high 29 kills on a .379 attack percentage.

Libero Erik Shoji led all players denesively with nine digs. Shoji also had team-high 26 service receptions without committing an error as the United States limited Turkiye to zero aces.

The United States following this victory will advance to play Poland in the quarterfinals. Poland swept Tunisia in its Round of 16 match on Sunday.

This will be the second time at the World Championship these two teams have played each other. Poland defeated the United States in its pool-play finale to win the Pool C title.