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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 18, 2021) The U.S. Men’s National Team, ranked No. 3 in the world, is back together after a year apart and is gearing up for the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) on May 28-June 27 in Rimini, Italy.
U.S. Head Coach John Speraw and his staff have named the 19 players on the long-list roster for the tournament, which is being held in a secure “bubble” with no fans for the health and safety of all participants. Fourteen players from the long list will be selected for each three-day segment of the preliminary round.
“We are coming into this Olympic summer with much more experience than we did going into Rio,” Speraw said about the strengths of this VNL roster. “So that’s a big strength and we also have some newer faces who weren’t with us last quad and I think that will have a positive impact on our VNL experience.”
The eight Olympians returning from the 2019 VNL Final Round roster are: Team captain and outside hitter Taylor Sander (2016), opposite Matt Anderson (2012, ‘16), middle blockers David Smith (2012, ‘16) and Max Holt (2016), setters Micah Christenson (2016) and Kawika Shoji (2016), libero Erik Shoji (2016) and outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke (2016)
Outside hitter Aaron Russell, a 2016 Olympian and member of the 2019 VNL Finals team, is still recovering from hip surgery.
Six other players competed during the 2019 VNL preliminary round and/or other 2019 tournaments: setter Josh Tuaniga, outside hitters T.J. Defalco and Brenden Sander, middle blockers Mitch Stahl and Taylor Averill, opposite Kyle Ensing and libero Dustin Watten.
The long list includes one newcomer, opposite and former Ohio State men’s volleyball standout Jake Hanes. Hanes earned All-MIVA First Team and AVCA All-America Honorable Mention honors in his 2019 season.
The U.S. Men have finished on the VNL podium in both 2019 (silver) and the inaugural year in 2018 (bronze). The 2020 edition was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As in past VNL editions, 16 men’s teams will compete against each other in three-day round-robin segments during the five-week preliminary round May 28-June 23.
Unlike the past, only the top four teams will advance to the final round. The semifinals will be played June 26 and the medal matches on June 27.
The year’s VNL will be the U.S. Men’s only official international competition prior to the Tokyo Olympic Games, which begin July 24.
“VNL is always important, particularly this year when the team hasn’t had the opportunity to compete with each other in over a year,” Speraw said. “Every match the team gets to play with each other is crucial to maximize how we are playing going into Tokyo this summer.”
The VNL will be broadcast in the United States on the FIVB’s streaming service Volleyball World TV.
U.S. Men’s National Team 19-Person Roster for FIVB Volleyball Nations League
No. Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1 Matt Anderson (OP, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State Univ.)
3 Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., Brigham Young Univ.)
4 Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola Univ. Chicago)
5 Kyle Ensing (OP, 6-7, Valencia, Calif., Long Beach State Univ.)
6 Mitch Stahl (MB, 6-8, Chambersburg, Pa., Univ. of California Los Angeles)
7 Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford Univ.)
8 T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State Univ.)
9 Jake Hanes (OP, 6-10, Orland Park, Ill., Ohio 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.)
13 Ben Patch (OP, 6-8, Layton, Utah, Brigham Young Univ.)
15 Brenden Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., Brigham Young Univ.)
16 Josh Tuaniga (S, 6-3, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach 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)
19 Taylor Averill (MB, 6-7, San Jose, Calif., Univ. of Hawaii)
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.)
U.S. Men’s Schedule for FIVB Volleyball Nations League (all times Pacific)
May 28 at 9 a.m.: USA vs Canada
May 29 at noon: USA vs Brazil
May 30 at 7 a.m.: USA vs Argentina
June 3 at noon: Russia vs USA
June 4 at 9 a.m.: Poland vs USA
June 5 at 9 a.m.: USA vs Australia
June 9 at 7 a.m.: Iran vs USA
June 10 at 7 a.m.: Germany vs USA
June 11 at 7 a.m.: USA vs Serbia
June 15 at noon: Italy vs USA
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