COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 21, 2021) – Fresh off their five-set victory over the Netherlands at the end of week four, the U.S. Men battled hard in another fifth set, but fell to Slovenia, 3-2 (30-28, 19-25, 25-20, 26-28, 13-15) on Monday at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy.

“I thought we fought pretty well,” setter Micah Christenson said. “I think defensively we cleaned some things up. I think we have a lot to be proud of and thought we showed a lot of character out there.”

The U.S. Men (6-7) will play Bulgaria (2-11) on Tuesday at 4 a.m. PT. All matches are being shown on


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, Christenson at setter and Erik Shoji at libero.

Opposite Kyle Ensing, Garrett Muagututia, Mitch Stahl and Thomas Jaeschke played as substitutes.

Slovenia led in both kills (69-61) and blocks (11-10). The U.S. Men led in ace serves (6-4). Outside hitter Klemen Cebulj for Slovenia was best scorer (27) followed by Sander (21).

“We’re here to learn right now,” Christenson said. “We know we’re pretty much out of the final four so now it’s time to learn and prepare for the Olympic Games. That’s our main goal right now.”

Slovenia led most of the first set, but the U.S. Men stayed in it and forced the tie a few times before a crafty tip from Sander gave them a 24-23 lead. Both teams battled back and forth for set point until Sander put it away with a big back row kill.

After Slovenia took set two, the U.S. Men answered by taking set three and a 2-1 match lead. Ensing subbed in and had a few key plays which gave the U.S. Men the spark they needed.

The U.S. Men controlled set four most of the way and had a 23-20 lead at the end, but Slovenia fought their way back to force the fifth set.

Stahl and Ensing both started the fifth set. The U.S. Men took their first lead in set five at 10-9 after Slovenia tried to push through the block, but DeFalco was able to pass the ball and recover for the kill. Slovenia took back the lead 14-13 after an unsuccessful block touch challenge from Speraw and ended the match on the next play.

U.S. Men’s National Team 14-Person Roster for June 21

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.)
15 Brenden Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., Brigham Young 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
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: Slovenia def. USA, 3-2 (30-28, 19-25, 25-20, 26-28, 13-15)
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