USA (USA) vs. France (FRA) men - Quarterfinals #5907271

American captain Christenson celebrates a point against the French

The Volleyball Nations League 2023 Finals started on Wednesday, with an exciting five-set quarterfinal duel between the United States and France, in a rematch of last year's gold medal match, at the Ergo Arena, in Gdańsk, Poland.

The Americans saw their two-set lead vanish, but were still able to prevail in the tie-breaker and secure a dramatic 3-2 (25-21, 25-18 17-25, 24-26, 15-9) victory over the defending champions that sent them to the VNL semifinals for the fourth time in five seasons.

  • Watch Volleyball Nations League 2023 Finals live on VBTV

The American opponents in the semifinals will be determined later on Wednesday, when Italy and Argentina meet at 20:00 local time (18:00 UTC). The semifinals will be played on Saturday in Gdańsk.

The best team in the Preliminary Phase with ten victories in 12 matches, the United States will try to secure their fourth VNL medal. The Americans took silver in 2019 and 2022 and bronze in 2018.

Star opposite Matt Anderson led all scorers in the American victory, leaving the court with 22 points. The 36-year-old Olympic medalist got 20 kills and two aces to make a difference for his team.

USA (USA) vs. France (FRA) men - Quarterfinals #5907244

Jaeschke stepped up and contributed 16 points in the American offense

With Aaron Russell sidelined and Torey Defalco limited to 12 points (ten kills, two blocks), outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke also had a bigger scoring role with the Americans, producing 16 points, with 14 kills and two blocks.

“It got really close during the entire match,” American setter Micah Christenson. “It went to the tie-breaker and I’m glad we were able to pull away, it was huge for us. It was very similar to last season in the sense that the quarterfinals were really tough. To be able to go through a battle like this and move along, it really serves us well. This top eight is probably the best in the history of the VNL. These matchups are incredible and it’s going to be a fun week of volleyball.”

France had four players reaching double digits in scoring and among them was Olympic champion opposite Jean Patry, who came off the bench to lead the team with 17 points (13 kills, two blocks, two aces). Middle blockers Bartélémy Chinenyeze, with 16 points (ten kills, five blocks, one ace), and Nicolas Le Goff, with 14 (11 kills, two blocks, one ace), also had solid performances for the Europeans.

The close match reflected on the stats, with the Americans leading in kills (61 to 58) and the French doing better in blocks (11 to eight) and aces (six to five). At the end of the day, the 12-point difference in opponent errors (32 to 20) helped the USA secure the win in Gdańsk.

The third and fourth quarterfinals of the VNL 2023 will be played on Thursday, with Japan and Slovenia meeting at 17:00 local time (15:00 UTC) and hosts Poland and Brazil clashing later at 20:00 local time (18:00 UTC).

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