Led by former West Seneca West and Penn State star Matt Anderson, the U.S. Men’s National team won the World Cup volleyball championship in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Anderson was named the tournament Most Valuable Player as the U.S. qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
In their final match the U.S. defeated Argentina, 25-20, 25-21, 17-25 and 25-20, in Tokyo to finish 10-1 in the round-robin tournament.
“I can’t become MVP without a supporting cast,” said Anderson, 28. “I played well, but the team played extremely well together and fought through some really tough matches and some really tough times. We put ourselves in a great position. So MVP is for the team, not me.”
Anderson, who lines up at opposite hitter, scored 15 points, including five aces and one block to go with nine kills. Aaron Russell led the U.S. with a match-high 17 kills and one ace.
Meanwhile, Anderson’s family back in Western New York followed his exploits via the internet and a occasional email to his mother, Nancy.
“We’re so excited. It’s the second time around going to the Olympics,” said Joelle Vanegas, one of Matt’s three older sisters. He also has an older brother.
Last time the U.S. won the World Cup was 1985.
“I don’t think there is a harder tournament to win, physically and mentally, than the World Cup,” said U.S. coach John Speraw.
Many of the U.S. players were clearly exhausted when the match was over. Speraw sat Anderson for a time in the third set and put in Murphy Troy.
The U.S. finished with the same match record as Italy and Poland but won the first tie-breaker, points earned for wins, with 30. The only loss for the Americans was to Poland. Italy took the silver medal on another tiebreaker.
The 6-foot-10 Anderson trains in California with the U.S. team but plays professionally in Russia for Zenit during the winter.