Written By Dylan Manfre
JERUSALEM — Maccabi USA Open men’s volleyball had been together for less than 10 days before playing its first game against Israel in the 21st Maccabiah.
USA head coach Daniel Newman admitted the Israeli delegation had a bit of an advantage being that many of its players have played professionally.
Experience and strong offense led Israel to a 3-0 victory over the United States on July 13 at Pisgat Ze’ev Hall in front of a sizable contingent of U.S. fans. A Columbian team was also in attendance taking in the action.
“Brave group of guys. We’re playing against a professional team that’s played all throughout Europe of ages from 25 to 28, strong guys,” said Newman who is an alumnus of University of Southern California. “I thought we fought valiantly.”
The U.S. struggled to defend Israel’s powerful kills from players such as Ido David, who is a rising sophomore at UCLA which went to the NCAA semifinals in 2022. David helped generate much of Israel’s offense along with Alex Osokin and Kevin Cuzmiciov.
Once Israel quickly grew the lead to double-digits, a comeback of that caliber became a herculean task. Israel flexed its muscle through decisive kills and strategic passes in the second set which it won 25-12.
The U.S.’s offensive resilience showed in the final set. It held a slight lead, 3-2, in the early portion and kept pace with Israel for most of the way. Setter Davey Singer saw his team begin to turn things around at that point.
“I think it was our ball control that definitely got a little better. We started passing the ball pretty well and I think it helped take their foot off the gas a little bit,” said Singer, a rising sophomore at Purdue Fort Wayne. “Overall, ran our middles more in the third set and our middles get us kills.”
Singer compared the play of the Israelis to what he has seen in college and he hopes to see them again in the championship game.
Newman’s squad has four days off before its next game in the Jewish Olympics against Argentina on July 24 and now the priority will be finding its “mojo” throughout the remainder of the tournament.
“They’re just getting to know each other. It’s our first game ever against professional players,” Newman said. “Very excited for where the games are gonna go for us. I think we can get to their level.”