HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (June 22, 2019) – From his first reception, Garrett Muagututia thought Saturday was going to be his day.
Unfortunately, Canada (6-5) had other plans.
Despite 18 points from Muagututia, a match-high 19 from opposite Matt Anderson in his 2019 U.S. Men’s debut and 17 from outside hitter T.J. DeFalco, the U.S. Men fell to Canada, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 25-17 in an FIVB Volleyball Nations League match at the Sears Centre.
The U.S. Men (6-5) had its five-match win streak snapped. It will close out its VNL home series on Sunday against China (1-10) at 2:30 p.m. CT. The match will be shown LIVE on NBCSN.
“That first pass, when I nailed it, then I knew it was going to be a good match” said Muagututia, who had his best match of the VNL so far. “You like to start with something positive and move forward with that. I was making the right choices for the most part in the first set. Slowed down a little bit after that.”
That “slowing down” with errors and inconsistency – not just from Muagututia, but from the entire team – is what cost the U.S. Men the match, said Head Coach John Speraw.
“Collectively, as a group, we just didn’t sustain anything for a long enough stretches of time,” he said.
As the U.S. started to falter, Canada turned up the pressure with its serving and blocking.
Micah Ma’a, who made his first start at setter for the U.S. Men’s Team, admitted he had trouble connecting with the team’s middle blockers, all four of whom saw playing time.
“It’s tough to get reps with everybody,” Ma’a said. “I’ve just been kind of bouncing around. No excuse though. I need to find then and give them good spots.“
The U.S. led Canada in kills (54-51) and aces (5-3). But Canada led in blocks (9-5) and scored 34 points on U.S. errors while committing 23.
Muagututia hoped for a better result in Sunday’s match against China.
“I think our serving wasn’t too good today,” he said. “We didn’t put enough pressure on them from the service line. I hope tomorrow that improves.”
STARTERS FOR U.S. MEN VS CANADA
Outside hitters: Garrett Muagututia and T.J. DeFalco
Middle blockers: Max Holt and Taylor Averill
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Ma’a
Libero: Erik Shoji
STATISTICS FOR U.S. MEN VS CANADA
Kills: Anderson 18, Muagututia 16, DeFalco 13, Holt 2, Smith 2, Ma’a 2, Jendryk 1
Blocks: Muagututia 2, DeFalco 1, Holt 1, Smith 1
Aces: DeFalco 3, Anderson 1, Holt 1