COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 17, 2021) – The U.S. Men finish strong with a five set comeback win against the Netherlands (21-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-15, 15-13) on Thursday at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy.

“Yeah it was not an easy game,” Taylor Sander said. “I think a lot of us were a little bit tired, but I think we responded well and we started to play better. I think that’s something that’s important for us is that we started bad, we had no energy and then we were able to fight.”

The U.S. Men finish week four 6-6 and will play Slovenia (9-3) on Monday, June 21 at 9 a.m. PT. Slovenia is currently in third place while the U.S. Men sit in seventh. All matches are being shown on


Head Coach John Speraw started Sander and Garrett Muagututia at outside hitter, Matt Anderson at opposite, David Smith and Mitch Stahl at middle blocker, Micah Christenson at setter and Erik Shoji at libero.

Libero Dustin Watten and opposite Kyle Ensing played as substitutes.

The U.S. Men dropped the first set to the Netherlands, but responded well in set two to even the match. The U.S. Men gained control in the match after an exciting play where Muagututia and Christenson stumbled over each other, but Christenson was still able to set while falling down and Muagututia put it away.

The U.S. Men was within one point at the end of set three, but fell 25-23 and the Netherlands took a 2-1 match lead.

The U.S. Men got off to a quick 3-0 start in set four and never looked back. Sander’s back-to-back blocks early in the set and Muagututia’s eight kills helped force the fifth set.

The Netherlands led the fifth set early on, but the U.S. Men stayed close and an ace of the tape from Sander tied the set 13-13. On the very next point, the Netherlands believed their attack touched the block and challenged the ruling, however, the replay showed the ball went untouched through the block and out long. Sander finished it for the U.S. Men at the serving line with an ace.

The U.S. Men led in kills (67-51), blocks (8-3) and ace serves (12-7). Muagututia and Sander tied for best scorer (21) followed by Anderson (19). Stahl led all blockers (3). Christenson tied Stijn van Tilburg from the Netherlands for ace leader (4). Shoji and Watten each had seven digs.

The U.S. Men will play Slovenia, Bulgaria and Japan in the final preliminary week on June 21-23.

“We got one week left, one round left, so we’re excited and hopefully we can continue to get better, Sander said.”

U.S. Men’s National Team 14-Person Roster for June 17

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 and Matthew Fuerbringer
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: Iran def USA, 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-23)
June 10: USA def Germany, 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 29-27)
June 11: Serbia def USA, 3-1 (25-23, 25-17, 19-25, 27-25)

June 15: USA def Italy, 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-21)
June 16: France def USA, 3-1 (25-23, 22-25, 31-29, 25-22)
June 17: USA def Netherlands, 3-2 (21-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-15, 15-13)

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