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    US men’s volleyball rebounds against France
    • July 9, 2023

    ANAHEIM — The morning after Team USA’s fourth set from hell U.S. coach John Speraw worked the room at his team’s practice trying to see if there was anything left in the tank.

    “I was trying to gauge it today at serve and pass and I was walking around and talking to the guys, ‘how are you feeling? What do you think? Are we going to be able to go full speed?’” Speraw recalled.

    The answers would be late in the second set of Team USA’s Volleyball Nations League match with reigning Olympic champion France Saturday night at the Anaheim Convention Center.

    In a scenario that eerily resembled the U.S.’s meltdown, the pivotal fourth set of Friday night’s upset loss to Argentina, the team dropped a trio of set points before nailing down the second set and rolling to a 3-0 (25-23, 27-25, 27-25) victory.

    The win was a tribute to the resiliency of a veteran squad that found a way to bounce back after wasting five match points before losing Friday’s fourth set 43-41 and then, shell shocked, dropping the fifth of the 2 hour, 26 minute match.

    The U.S. closes out VNL pool play against Bulgaria Sunday (8:30 p.m.)

    “I don’t know if there was one difference,” Speraw said. “There wasn’t a change in some mentality. It’s just that we made that play tonight.

    “I still don’t think we were perfect. Some of the issues that hurt us last night hurt us tonight as well but we just made a couple more plays. I was really impressed with how we came out even though we were battling some obvious fatigue.”

    The match was also a reminder of the parity within elite men’s international volleyball.

    “Ten of the 12 teams at the Olympics next summer could win a medal,” Speraw said.

    France, the gold medal winner in Tokyo and last year’s inaugural Volleyball Nations League champion beating the U.S. in five sets last July, won’t be among the eight teams advancing to the VNL final eight later this summer in Poland.

    Not that France didn’t give Speraw and the U.S. some nervous moments even in the third set when the Americans couldn’t close out the night on two match points late.

    “If it had gone four it could have been anybody, it could have been anybody on the court,” Speraw said. “I was looking back there and I almost told everybody on the bench to start warming up, just because I wasn’t sure how that was all going to end. But it worked out great.”

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    ​ Orange County Register