World Cup: Argentina Opens with Upset Over USA
It’s only Day 1 of the 2019 World Cup in Japan and we’ve already got our first upset as Argentina heads the defending champs USA a loss in their first match by a score of 3-2 (25-21, 25-20, 19-25, 21-25, 15-12.
You might not think this is a huge upset, Argentina has players like Luciano DeCecco and Facundo Conte, right? Well that would be wrong in this case. This team is pretty much void of any Argentinian you think you might know.
First off - they were led by 23-year old Matias Sanchez, who’s listed at 173cm - that’s 5’6” for us North Americans. And apparently no one ever told him volleyball was a tall person’s game, because he was absolutely balling, running the offence as effortlessly as any of the best in the world. How do we know? Argentina out-hit the USA 70-59.
Five of the South Americans reached double-digit points and four had over 20 attempts as the young maestro spread the offence like butter. Martin Ramos led the way, going 17-for-23 and adding three blocks, while Agustin Loser and Jan Martinez Franchi added 18 and 16 points respectively.
They even gave away a scary 32 errors to the USA’s 21, and were still able to come through with the win.
An ace for the first point of the match and a kick-save in the second - you could see right away the Argentines weren’t buying that they were supposed to lie down for the No. 2 team in the world. It was a back and forth first set featuring some jaw-dropping rallies early g right from the beginning with a 5-2 lead and never looking back.
The USA didn’t see their first lead until the beginning of the 3rd - going up 3-1 early, and increasing that to 9-5 as they got themselves back on the board. This set also saw the return of Thomas Jaescke who was subbed in for Garrett Maguatutia. Jaescke made an impact immediately, and looked good going 9-for-16, adding 2 blocks and an ace for 12 points in about 3 sets of play.
The Argentines adjusted in the 4th and built a wall to keep the colonists out, and looked like they were poised to upset the defending champs for the full three points. But the USA countered with a wall of their own as they took control late in the 4th.
Carrying all of the momentum into the 5th, most would have their money on the USA, and winning a crucial rally at 7-7 made it seem like the odds were in their favour. But a couple of crucial errors and some solid serving and defence from the South Americans, they found themselves with match point up 14-11. The Americans kept things going for a minute with a solid sideout, but an easy serve resulted in Sanchez running the middle to end the match.
I’d honestly love to go all ESPN about this and call this the “End of Days for USA Volleyball” - but in reality this is a typical slow start Team USA has been known for. This team hasn’t really played together since the Nations League Finals, and this most likely is the culprit behind the lack of rhythm throughout the match.
This might have something to do with the 32 errors by Argentina - when the other team is scoring for you, it’s a lot harder to build offensive momentum, and the connection between the setter and his hitters just isn’t there.
Aaron Russell led the way, going 17-for-35 with an ace for 18 points, Matt Anderson went 12-for-22 with three aces for 15 points, the same total as Jeff Jendryk who went 12-for-15 and three blocks.
Argentina will look to add to their total against Tunisia tomorrow, while the USA will take on Italy at 2:00 am ET.