Zen masters TJ DeFalco (8) and Max Holt (12) and the rest of the USA team after beating China/Volleyball World photo

The USA men trailed 18-12, caught up, then overcame three first-set points and not only won the set, came away with a 28-26, 25-22, 25-18 victory over China on Wednesday in Volleyball Nations League in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

It came a day after opening the second of VNL with a sweep of Serbia. The Americans are now 5-1 and tied with Slovenia for second, a game back of Japan and half-game up on Poland and idle Brazil.

The USA has Thursday off.

“In both matches we did a really nice job of coming back in which we didn’t play perfect volleyball, but steadied out, remained confident and poised, and continued to play better volleyball throughout the course of the match,” USA coach John Speraw said. 

The Americans lost the first set to Serbia and then had the rally in the first set against China.

“In both cases we demonstrated the type of confidence I think we feel,” Speraw said. “It’s good when you can mix up lineups as much as we did and come away with two wins this week and now we’re in a good position in VNL at 5-1.”

Friday, the USA plays Iran (2-4) and then finishes the second round against Poland (4-1).

“We’re exciting about the upcoming matches. We know they’re going to be very challenging,” Speraw said. “Iran is always an incredible tough match and Poland is one of the best teams in the world.”

Against China, the USA held a 51-40 kills advantage and had four blocks to none for China.

Thomas Jaeschke led with 12 kills, two blocks and an ace and had a team-high five digs.

T.J. DeFalco had 11 kills and three digs and Jake Hanes had 10 kills, four digs and a block. Max Holt had five kills, a block and four of his team’s six aces. Taylor Averill had nine kills and an ace.

China’s Jingyin Zhang had 12 kills and three aces, Dejun Zhai had 12 kills and an ace, and Bin Wang had 10 kills and an ace.

Also in Rotterdam

Italy (3-2) swept Iran (2-4) as Alessandro Michieletto had 12 kills, two blocks and an ace n the 25-19, 25-16, 26-24 victory. Yuri Romano had 11 kills, a block and two aces and Daniele Lavia had nine kills, a block and an ace. Leonardo Scanferla had 14 digs.

Poland (4-1) battled to a 25-21, 22-25, 25-14, 17-25, 15-10 victory over Germany (1-5). Bartosz Kurek had 16 kills and two blocks. Wilfredo Venero had 15 kills, two blocks and two aces, and Bartosz Bednorz had 10 kills. Pawel Zatorski had 14 digs. Germany got 10 kills each from Yan Bohme, Erik Rohrs and Linus Weber.

In Orleans, France

Japan (6-0) got swept Cuba (1-4) 25-21, 25-16, 25-21 behind 13 kills by Ran Takahashi, who added a block and six digs. 

Rok Mozic had 16 kills, a block and two aces as Slovenia (5-1) swept Canada (1-5) 25-23, 25-22, 25-14. Klemen Cebulj had nine kills, a block and two aces, and Alen Pajenk had five kills, two blocks and two aces. Arthur Szwarc had 10 kills and an ace for Canada and Brodie Hofer had nine kills.

Argentina (4-2) beat struggling France (1-4) in four as Luciano Palonsky had 13 kills and three aces and Agustin Loser had 11 kills and five blocks in the 22-25, 26-24, 25-21, 25-20 victory. France’s Stephen Boyer had 14 kills and Kevin Tillie had 13.

Thomas Jaescke, left, and Jake Hanes look on as Cody Kessel makes the play/Volleyball World photo

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