Americans “Patch” up first 2017 win


Pau, France, June 9, 2017 – High-flying Benjamin Patch scored a massive 17 points to help the United States win their first FIVB Volleyball World League game since 2016 as the USA easily saw off Italy in a three-set victory – 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-23).

The 22-year-old opposite spiker, who already has 40 points to his name in the 2017 World League, was impressive throughout the match, lifting his side its first victory since the start of this year’s edition last week. Italy lost three successive World League matches and put their chances of claiming an 9th World League title in jeopardy despite commanding performances from setter Simone Giannelli and opposite Giulio Sabbi. The latter top scored 10 points for Italy.

The outcome of this game ties the all-time head-to-head record between these two teams in the World League at 13 wins each.

A tightly contested first set saw the Americans claw back to level 11-11 after a terrible start that had them trail 4-7. Benjamin Patch and David Smith then were on target with a couple spikes to unsettle Italy's defence and give the two-time World League gold medallists a deserved 18-15 lead. Two monster blocks in a row from Taylor Sander and Jake Langlois lifted the USA further ahead and Oleg Antonov's blocked attempt sealed the deal at 25-22.

The second half started with an ace by Davide Candellaro, but Smith and Sander once again turned things around for John Sperow's men - 3-1. Micah Christenson increased the lead to 5-1 before Italy finally woke up and clawed back to reduce the gap to 8-8 and even leapfrog their opponents after another block by Candellaro and a quality serve by Luca Vettori - 10-8. Both teams traded tit for tat with Patch's spikes answering Simone Buti's blocks until a Smith ace shaped up the 25-23 close.

Another strong start, illustrated by Torey Defalco's monstrous smash, gave USA am early 3-0 lead, but Italy demonstrated tremendous solidity in defence as they started to snuff out the Americans' threat, showing plenty of agility and guile in attack to fight back into the game - 8-6. A brief blip allowed the Italians hope at 21-18 before it was extinguished, as the Europeans collapsed following two aces by Garrett Muagututia and a decisive block by Micah Christenson, giving USA a 25-23 win as Christenson and Sander shone once again.


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