Detroit — After playing to a 4-4 tie in the early part of the first game, the U.S. Men's National Volleyball team reeled off seven straight points and made it clear that it was not going to make things easy on Mexico.
Middle blocker Max Holt put together a dominant performance and the U.S. cruised to a 3-0 victory over Mexico in its opening match of the 2015 NORCECA Men's Champions Cup on Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Holt had seven aces and provided his team with big points every time Mexico looked to climb back in the match.
"Sometimes when you get a big lead, you can joke around in the huddle and lose your focus," coach John Speraw said. "I don't think the guys did that at any point. I'm really happy with the focus all the way through to the end."
Holt ended the first game with a big spike that gave the U.S. a 25-15 win.
He picked right back up where he left off in the second game, starting things off with a bang.
Murphy Troy made sure the momentum stayed with the red, white and blue. After Holt's big kill to start the second game, Troy served up back-to-back aces before adding a big kill of his own.
Before Mexico knew what had hit them, the U.S. was out to a 5-1 lead in the second game after five-straight points on Troy's serve.
"In the first set, I made one or two errors," Troy said. "I wanted to be able to get the feeling back and I was able to do that. I think it helped us get in a rhythm as a team."
The U.S. cruised to a 25-12 win in the second game, as Mexico just couldn't compete at the net with the much taller Americans.
The 9-0 advantage in points on blocks showed just how big an advantage the U.S. actually had at the net.
"I thought we definitely blocked well, but we've got a lot of room to improve," Holt said. "We've only been together for a couple weeks now. We're still a little rusty."
The "rusty" U.S. won the third game, 25-17, and grabbed three big points to start round robin play at the Champion's Cup.
The turning point of a competitive third game came when Holt busted out three consecutive aces to push the U.S. lead to 23-14.
The match ended on a service fault by the Mexicans, their 11th.
With the top two teams punching their ticket to the World Cup in Japan in September, the U.S. knows that it took one giant step toward achieving that goal.
"Three (points) is the best possible start," Troy said. "We know we're going to have it a little bit tougher with the Canadians and Cubans, so to get three tonight was big."
The U.S. plays Cuba, which lost to Canada on Thursday, 3-0, at Joe Louis Arena tonight.
Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer
NORCECA Volleyball Champions Cup
Format: Four-team round-robin tournament; top two teams advance to World Cup
Where: Joe Louis Arena
Teams: USA, Canada, Cuba and Mexico
Friday: Canada vs. Mexico, 4 p.m.; USA vs. Cuba, 6 p.m.
Saturday: Cuba vs. Mexico, 4 p.m.; USA vs. Canada, 6 p.m.
All matches are free and open to the public.