COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 15, 2021) – The U.S. Men’s National Team came out with aggressive serving and finished strong to sweep Italy, 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-21) on Tuesday at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy.

The U.S. Men (5-5) will play France at 10:30 a.m. PT on Wednesday (June 16).


Head Coach John Speraw started Taylor Sander and T.J. DeFalco at outside hitter, Matt Anderson at opposite, David Smith and Max Holt at middle blocker, Micah Christenson at setter and Erik Shoji at libero.

Outside hitter Garrett Muagututia and middle blocker Mitch Stahl played as substitutes.

Sander played his first match of the tournament. Christenson was back in action after leaving Italy to be home with his wife as they welcomed their second child.

The U.S. Men ran away with the first set thanks to strong performances from Sander, Anderson and Smith with four points each. At 13-9, the U.S. Men scored five straight points, which included two big blocks and an ace from Christenson, and Italy was unable to recover.

“Yeah I think our serve and block was really good,” Sander said. “We had a lot of good service runs and I think we were able to put them on their heels a little bit and put some pressure on them. I think that was the difference.”

The second set was close early on, but two costly errors from Italy gave the U.S. Men some momentum to pull ahead. Anderson and Sander each recorded six kills. Holt ended the set with an ace.

Italy tried to keep the third set close early on, but an exciting play sparked some energy for the U.S. Men. Sander chased a ball all the way back to the boards behind the serving line and was able to run back to dig a ball leading to a kill from Anderson. Italy got within one point (17-16) after recording their first block of the match, but two aces from Stahl and a solo block from Smith helped push the U.S. Men to the finish line.

The U.S. Men led in kills (39-29), blocks (7-1) and serves (9-3). Anderson was the best scorer (17) followed by Sander (14). DeFalco had a match high 10 digs.

Watch all VNL matches in the United States on the FIVB’s streaming service Volleyball World TV. 

Yesterday, USA Volleyball announced the 12-player men’s team that will compete for the U.S. at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

“It’s exciting,” Sander said. “We have a lot of good guys on our roster and it’s special for the guys who made it, but it’s also important to recognize the guys who didn’t and for them to be ready as alternates. We’ve all worked really hard to try to go to Tokyo and be on that 12-man roster and for me it’s crazy that it’s here now and that we know who we’re taking so it’s up to us to get better and try to win the Olympic Games.”

U.S. Men’s National Team 14-Person Roster for FIVB Volleyball Nations League

No. Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
Matt Anderson (OP, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State Univ.)
Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., Brigham Young Univ.)
Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola Univ. Chicago)
Kyle Ensing (OP, 6-7, Valencia, Calif., Long Beach State Univ.)
Mitch Stahl (MB, 6-8, Chambersburg, Pa., Univ. of California Los Angeles)
Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford Univ.)
T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State Univ.)
11 Micah Christenson (S, 6-5, Honolulu, Hawaii, Univ. of Southern California)
12 Max Holt (MB, 6-10, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State Univ.)
17 Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola Univ. Chicago)
18 Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., Univ. of California Los Angeles)
20 David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., Univ. of California Irvine)
21 Dustin Watten (L, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State Univ.)
22 Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford Univ.)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Assistant Coaches: Brian Thornton,  Matthew Fuerbringer, Mike Wall
Athletic Trainers: Aaron Brock and Timothy Pelot
Team Manager and Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo

U.S. Men’s Schedule for FIVB Volleyball Nations League (all times Pacific)

May 28: USA def Canada, 3-0 (25-17, 26-24, 25-20)
May 29: Brazil def USA, 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-19)
May 30: USA def Argentina, 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-15, 25-19)

June 3: Russia def USA, 3-1 (25-22, 25-29, 17-25, 25-19)
June 4: Poland def USA, 3-0 (25-17, 28-26, 25-17)
June 5: USA def Australia, 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-17)

June 9 at 9 a.m.: Iran def USA, 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-23)
June 10 at 7 a.m.: USA def Germany, 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 29-27)
June 11 at 9 a.m.: Serbia def USA, 3-1 (25-23, 25-17, 19-25, 27-25)

June 15 at 7:30 a.m.: USA def. Italy, 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-21)
June 16 at 10:30 a.m.: USA vs France
June 17 at 9 a.m.: Netherlands vs USA

June 21 at 9 a.m.: Slovenia vs USA
June 22 at 4 a.m.: Bulgaria vs USA
June 23 at 4 a.m.: USA vs Japan

June 26: Semifinals 1 and 2
June 27: Bronze and Gold medal matches