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A great framework for the Final Great Match with USA overcoming Brazil

Florence, Italy, July 20, 2014 – USA stunned Brazil 3-1 (31-29, 21-25, 25-20, 25-23) to claim the gold medal at the FIVB World League Finals in Florence. A young side – epitomised by relative newcomers Taylor Sander and Micah Christenson, and anchored by the experience of Matt Anderson, David Lee and Sean Rooney – produced a great game to beat the world No.1 ranked side.

Key points

• USA win the gold medal. It is their second World League gold – they beat Serbia in the 2008 final. It was their third World League final in total – they lost to Poland in 2012

• USA become one of just four nations to win more than one World League gold. Brazil (9), Italy (8) and Russia (3) have also done it

• This was the two side’s first World League Final meeting

• Brazil have now lost two World League finals in a row. They were defeated in 2013 by Russia

• This was the side’s 36th meeting in the World League. Brazil have won 26 and USA 10.

• Brazil had won five of the last eight meetings between the sides.

The match began at a fierce pace, with Matt Anderson and Taylor Sander of USA grounding some huge spikes for USA through the set, and Wallace De Souza, Lucas Saatkamp, Ricardo Lucarelli and Sidnei Dos Santos Junior hitting back for Brazil. The teams could not be separated as they traded points up to 23-23, and neither side seemed able to kill off the set. Brazil lost four set points (including one that was overturned via a controversial challenge), and USA dropped two, before David Lee made it third time lucky. A great block from the American gave USA the set 31-29.

The sides remained evenly matched as set two began, with the score running up to 13-13. Maxwell Holt joined Anderson and Sander in the points for USA, but Brazil got some daylight thanks to points from all over the court. Wallace, Lucas and Lucarelli in particular shone as Brazil eventually shut out the set 25-21.

Some great all round play by Lee, the spikes of Sander and Anderson, and a Micah Christenson ace helped to get USA 18-10 ahead in set three. Brazil made some uncharacteristic mistakes, and although they fought back towards the end of the set, it was too late. A fierce Anderson kill and a Brazil service error gave USA the set 25-20, and a 2-1 lead.

Set four once again saw the sides hard to separate. Brazil crept ahead thanks to Wallace, and Lucarelli, but Lee, Anderson and Sander – nicely orchestrated by young setter Christenson – once again hit back to tie at 14-14 and 23-23. And USA sealed a dramatic win with a towering Lee block and a characteristic Anderson spike, to win the set 25-23, the set, match and gold.

The match’s top scorer was USA’s Sander with 24 points. Matt Anderson got 23 for USA. Wallace was top scorer for Brazil with 16 points.

Press Conference:

USA's players and coach hailed an "unbelievable" 3-1 win (31-29, 21-25,25-20,25-23) over world no.1 ranked Brazil in the World League final on Sunday night.

"It's unbelievable, unbelievable – I am lost for words," said David Lee after getting his gold medal. "I’m feeling fantastic. We are a great team and our players are very young. Taylor Sander played an amazing game. Guys like him are the future. Tonight really couldnt’ve worked better."

USA coach John Speraw said: "I'm thrilled for my guys, I couldn't be more happy. It was a great final, the first set was just one point, two points the entire way through. I was thinking that Brazil start slow and would come back. The coach has done a great job. But we played about as good as we could. The difference between the teams was small."

"Looking ahead to the World Championships, it's a confidence booster. It's an opportunity to get on the podium. That hasn't happened much for this team. It's a great learning opportunity ahead of that. We have a tough pool but I'm optimistic. We can instil the value of teamwork in this side and get a good foundation. We have a nice mix of youth and veterans."

Taylor Sander, who was the final's top scorer with 24 points, and the tournament's MVP , was humble in victory. "I love my teammates. Getting the award is nice, but I never think about trying to do that. It's all about the team."

"We lost the first game against Italy and didn't look so good, but we always wanted gold. We improved as the tournament went on. We should remember that we almost didn't make the World League Finals and it went down to the last match."

Brazil coach Bernardo Rezende said: "I'd like to congratulate John. USA were able to control the game. They had a great defence, they kept the ball alive. We made a lot of mistakes. It was a lesson for us, and we are frustrated, but congratulations to them. We have a lot of things to work on ahead of the World Championships. We have made some strides, but we need to be more consistent to compete at that tournament."

Brazil's captain Bruno Rezende was disappointed. "It's terrible to arrive in the final and lose but they played better than us tonight. We weren't aggressive enough tonight. But now we have to prepare for the next tournament. We are going to the World Championships to win."