COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 28, 2019) – The U.S. Men’s National Team had a strong start against Bulgaria but couldn’t sustain the momentum and fell, 21-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-23 in an FIVB Volleyball Nations League match in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

The U.S. Men (7-6) will play Serbia (5-8) at 7 a.m. PT on Saturday. The match will be shown live on the Olympic Channel and will re-air at 1 p.m. PT on NBC.

The U.S. Men have already qualified for the VNL Finals on July 10-14 in Chicago as the hosts. The team’s usual starters are in Anaheim, Calif., training for the finals.

On Friday, Rob Neilson, serving as the head coach, started Thomas Jaeschke and Garrett Muagututia at outside hitter, George Huhmann and Taylor Averill at middle blocker, Micah Ma’a at setter, Ben Patch at opposite and Dustin Watten at libero.

The less-experienced team started strong, but errors began to creep in and Bulgaria opposite Tsvetan Sokolov took full advantage, finishing with 20 points on 18 kills and two aces.

The U.S. Men led in kills (55-47) and aces (8-5). Bulgaria led in blocks (5-2) and scored 39 points on U.S. errors while committing 25. The U.S. kill percentage behind Ma’a was 56.1. Bulgaria’s was 57.3.

Patch led all scorers with 22 points on 22 kills. Jaeschke, making his second start of 2019 after spending a year recovering from a torn ACL, scored 13 points on 10 kills and a match-high three aces. Averill scored 11 points on nine kills and two aces.

Muagututia scored nine points on six kills, two blocks and one ace.

Outside hitters: Garrett Muagututia and Thomas Jaeschke
Middle blockers: George Huhmann and Taylor Averill
Opposite: Ben Patch
Setter: Micah Ma’a
Libero: Dustin Watten
Substitutes: Jeff Jendryk (MB), T.J. DeFalco (OH)

Kills: Patch 22, Jaeschke 10, Averill 9, Muagututia 6, Jendryk 4, Huhmann 3, Ma’a
Blocks: Muagututia 2
Aces: Jaeschke 3, Averill 2, Ma’a 2, Muagututia 1