The U.S. Men started strong but couldn't keep pace with Brazil down the stretch, falling 3-1 (30-32, 25-23, 25-21, 25-20) on Friday at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
TOKYO (August 1, 2021) – The U.S. Men improved throughout the match but struggled to stay ahead against strong serving from Argentina and fell 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-23) on Sunday at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
The U.S. Men controlled their own destiny going into the match, needing a win to move on to the quarterfinal round. This is the first time since 2000 that the U.S. Men have not advanced to the Olympic quarterfinals. Argentina also controlled its Olympic fate and jumped ahead early by serving tough and capitalizing on U.S. errors. The U.S. Men finished the Tokyo Olympic Games with a 2-3 record.
“They were serving really tough,” Head Coach John Speraw said. “I haven’t been worried about Team USA passing in years and we did not pass the ball very well and conversely, they [Argentina] passed the ball really well. Our serving has not been great in this tournament, and we just lost the serve and passing game. When you’re losing the serve the passing game you have to do significantly more on the defensive end in order to turn those points. We did what we needed to do against Lima. We just didn’t stop their middle attack and their left side attack, and we just didn’t dig enough balls. They [Argentina] out played us in every facet of game.”
The U.S. Men, like all the athletes competing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, worked hard to get to this moment. The postponement of the Olympic Games added another year of preparation and strain, both physically and mentally. The feeling of falling short is never easy to move on from, but it will be especially difficult for this team after all they’ve been through together.
“This team loves one another, and I love them,” Speraw said. “I think we’ve got a really great thing going. When you’re coaching the National Team, I’ve been coaching these guys eight, nine years. You just have this relationship. I mean we’ve been through marriages and kids, the whole deal. You go through a lot of that experience and it’s very different than probably anything. So I think there’s some real emotion because the guys are really invested in one another.”
“It’s heartbreaking,” setter Micah Christenson said. “We worked really hard for this. We delayed another year to work as hard as we could for this and this isn’t the way we wanted to finish. It’s heartbreaking.”
Speraw started Matt Anderson at opposite, Taylor Sander and TJ DeFalco at outside hitter, Christenson at setter, Max Holt and Mitch Stahl at middle blocker, and Erik Shoji at libero.
Middle blocker David Smith, setter Kawika Shoji and opposite Kyle Ensing all played as substitutes.
Argentina came out strong in the first set, collecting four aces early that gave them a comfortable lead at 15-10. The U.S. Men were able to get within two points late in the set after Sander and DeFalco each recorded blocks, but Argentina’s serve receive allowed them to push back ahead and take the first set.
The U.S. Men were forced to play from behind again in the second set, but strung together a run late that started with a successful block touch challenge. The set stayed close with a couple long rallies towards the end, but Argentina outlasted the U.S. Men and secured a 2-0 match lead.
Set three was all Argentina at the start, but the U.S. Men stormed back and took the lead mid-way through. However, service errors from the U.S. side and great serve receive from Argentina proved to be the deciding factor in the match and Argentina pulled away at the end to clinch their quarterfinals berth.
Argentina led in kills (40-38), blocks (8-7) and service aces (7-1). Argentina’s Facundo Conte was the match scoring leader (16), followed by Bruno Lima of Argentina (13) and TJ DeFalco (13).
U.S. Men’s Roster for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
No. Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1 Matt Anderson (OPP, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State Univ.)
3 Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., Brigham Young Univ.)
5 Kyle Ensing (OPP, 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.)
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)
22 Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford Univ.)
Head Coach John Speraw
Asst. Coach Brian Thornton
Asst. Coach Matthew Fuerbringer
Asst. Coach Mike Wall
Team Manager Erik Sullivan
Technical Coordinator Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer Aaron Brock
Strength Coach Timothy Pelot
Doctor Chris Lee
Statistician/Scout Andrew Strick
Massage Therapist Jennifer Holt
U.S. Men’s Olympic Schedule (all times Pacific)
July 24: USA def. France 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-22)
July 25: ROC def. USA 3-1 (25-23, 27-23, 21-25, 25-23)
July 27: USA def. TUN 3-1 (25-14, 23-25, 25-14, 25-23)
July 29: BRA def. USA 3-1 (30-32, 25-23, 25-21, 25-20)
August 1: ARG def. USA 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-23)
August 2-3: Quarterfinals
August 4-5: Semifinals
August 6: Bronze medal match
August 7: Gold medal match