In an incredible Round of 16 match, the United States overcame Türkiye in five sets to snatch a quarterfinal berth at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship 2022. In the opening match in the Polish city of Gliwice on Sunday, middle blocker David Smith was on fire as he steered the Americans to a hard-fought 3-2 (25-21, 25-17, 22-25; 19-25, 15-12) victory.
Smith on fire as USA overcome fighting Türkiye
Lagumdzija’s 31-point match high not enough to complete a huge Turkish comeback
Published 06:55, 04 Sep 2022
USA’s quarterfinal opponent will emerge from Sunday’s second match in Gliwice, between Tunisia and hosts Poland, starting at 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT).
Match favourites USA seemed to be cruising to a straight-set win, especially after setter and captain Micah Christenson made a successful swing for a 3-1 lead in the second set, but at that moment the Turks started mounting a huge comeback that helped them push the match to five and keep up the fight through 12-12 in the tie-breaker, after which the Americans finally finished it off with three points in a row.
David Smith was USA’s most valuable player of the match. He was near perfect with his first-tempo attacks. Spiking at an amazing 78% success rate, he scored 14 points in offence and added three kill blocks towards a 17-point tally to lead the team’s scorers. The 2.01m-tall middle put away two kills in a row to extend USA’s lead to 17-13 in the first set and then produced the set winner.
While star opposite Matthew Anderson was USA’s second best scorer with 15 points, including an ace for 3-1 in the tie-breaker and two kill blocks, it was outside Aaron Russell who claimed the match winner by squeezing the ball between the Turkish blockers and the net. His 13-point tally also included the first ace of the match, for 12-8 in set one.
After sitting out of the team’s last match against Poland, USA’s magical playmaker Christenson returned to action in the best possible way. In addition to creating plenty of superb opportunities for his spikers, he scored some points of his own, like hammering an overpass for 12-7 in the second set, monster-blocking for 15-10 or hitting on two for 20-18 Türkiye’s way in the third.
Opposite Adis Lagumdzija was once again Türkiye’s leading player and a key factor in their spectacular comeback. The 23-year-old striker piled up a solid match high of 31 points. He spiked at a 50% success rate and put away two stuff blocks. The 2.11m-tall player finished off one of the most spectacular rallies of the match, which included a rare head set by libero Berkay Bayraktar and put Türkiye in front at 6-5 in the third set. Lagumdzija’s attacks brought in the 24th points in sets three and four and he converted the latter to a 25-19 win. He also put his team in the lead at 8-7 in the tie-breaker. The opposite did not deliver any aces, but it was on his serving run that Türkiye broke away with a 7-3 advantage in the fourth set.
“Credit to Türkiye! They came back; they didn’t give up, but that’s what you’d expect at this phase of the World Championships. Türkiye showed some real strength and mental toughness,” said Smith after the game. “We had to scramble a bit to find a solution, but thankfully we were able to do that at the end. I am really proud of the guys for sticking with it. It was a really tough game mentally, but we did a great job and it’s going to make us better going forward.”