Russia celebrate winning the Volleyball Nations League ©Getty Images

Russia successfully defended their International Volleyball Federation Men's Nations League crown by beating hosts United States in four sets in today's final.

After the first two sets were shared the Russians came through to claim a 25-23, 20-25, 25-21, 25-20 victory at Chicago's Credit Union 1 Arena.

The victory means Russia remain as the only country to have won the event after they captured the inaugural title in Lille last year.

In that final they beat France, meaning both of their gold medal wins have come against the host nation.

Russian wing spiker Dmitry Volkov starred for the champions with 17 points, including 13 via attack, two blocks and two aces. 

Egor Kliuka, also a wing spiker, added 14 points of his own with 11-of-14 hitting, two aces and a block.

"It feels fantastic because we are very proud," said Volkov.

"We are missing a lot of our top players, so we didn't expect to win. 

"We are very happy. 

"With a new coach, we have a new team and played very strong throughout the VNL."

Russia, the London 2012 Olympic champions, were beaten in straight sets by the Americans in the final group phase match as the top six from the Nations League gathered for the final round in Chicago.

They were already through to the semi-finals at that stage, however, where they beat back-to-back world champions Poland 3-1.

The Americans had to endure a tough five set battle with Olympic champions Brazil to confirm their final place.

"We wanted to play a long match because they also played five sets late," said Russia's coach Tuomas Sammelvuo.

"Maybe their serving and passing wouldn't be as effective. 

"We started the game in trouble with our opposite, but then he was able to get the most important balls down when we really needed it. 

Russia successfully defended their title with victory in Chicago ©Getty Images
Russia successfully defended their title with victory in Chicago ©Getty Images

"It was a team effort, to believe and to trust in each other. 

"We played as a team."

The six teams contesting the final round qualified after each country played 15 round-robin qualification matches across the world.

Russia had ended third with 12 wins and three defeats, as Brazil topped the pile after losing only once.

The US ended sixth after nine wins and six losses but would have qualified for the final round regardless as the host nation.

Outside hitter Taylor Sander led the US with a match-high 20 points in the final, through 17 kills on 29 attacks, two aces and a block. 

Matt Anderson was named as the tournament's most valuable player and the best opposite, and scored 19 points with 18 kills and an ace.

"We just got beat by a team that was a little bit better than us tonight," said American coach John Speraw, whose side improved on their bronze medal from last year.

"There were some ebbs and flows where I thought we were the better team. 

"Then they just made a lot of plays from the service line.

"We didn't serve the ball as well as we needed to give ourselves scoring opportunities. 

"They got more efficient offensively as the night went on."

Poland whitewashed Brazil 3-0 in the bronze medal match to add to their five-set victory over the Rio 2016 winners in the pool phase.

The Europeans won 25-17, 25-23, 25-21 as Brazil came fourth for the second tournament running.

Bartosz Bednorz led the way with 21 points for the 2014 and 2018 world champions.