HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (June 21, 2019) – This week’s Volleyball Nations League matches in Hoffman Estates, Ill., have been a s homecoming celebrationg for members of the U.S. Men’s National Team.
The U.S. Men played on U.S. soil on Friday for the first time since June 17, 2018 and they made the most of it, sweeping Japan, 25-15, 25-19, 25-19 in an FIVB Volleyball Nations League match at the Sears Centre.
The U.S. Men (6-4) will play Canada (5-5) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT. The match will be shown live on FloVolleyball.tv, a subscription service.
The last time the U.S. Men competed in the United States was at Hoffman Estates in 2018 for VNL when they swept Serbia, Poland and Iran.
Team captain and outside hitter Taylor Sander wasn’t at those matches because he was with his wife Rachel awaiting the birth of his son, Atli. So it had been even longer since he had played at home. Playing in Illinois with Rachel and Atli watching was a boost, Sander said.
“I was happy to be back in the States playing,” Sander said. “I was just having fun and playing free. My teammates were helping me stay loose and be myself. So it was a good match.
‘I haven’t played in the States in a long time. I was with my baby last summer. Being able to play in front of a home crowd is something special. Thanks to all the fans who came out.
Sander and middle blocker David Smith led the team in scoring with 13 points each. Sander scored on nine kills, one block and three aces. Smith scored on a match-high six blocks, three aces and four kills.
Another player celebrating homecoming was Wheaton, Ill., native Thomas Jaeschke who started and finished his first match with the U.S. Men since rupturing his ACL during the match against Serbia in Hoffman a year ago.
Jaeschke scored nine points on eight kills and one ace.
U.S. Head Coach John Speraw credited his team’s victory in part to Jaeschke’s return.
“I thought we blocked the ball really well and had great energy early in the match,” Speraw said. “I thought our intensity was great. But it really started with our block and defense. Great to see Thomas Jaeschke back on the court. I think the guys were excited for him and that’s a large part why I think the energy was so great.”
Wheaton native and middle blocker Jeff Jendryk returned home to score nine points on six kills and three blocks.
Japan (4-6) chose not to play all of its starters, preferring to save them for its matches against China and Canada.
The U.S. led in kills (37-30), blocks (12-3) and aces (8-2). Each team had 18 scoring errors. The U.S. hit .492 behind setter Micah Christenson while Japan hit .385.
U.S. STARTERS VS JAPAN
Outside hitters: Taylor Sander and Thomas Jaeschke
Middle blockers: David Smith and Jeff Jendryk
Opposite: Ben Patch
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji
U.S. STATISTICS VS JAPAN
Kills: Sander 9, Patch 9, Jaeschke 8, Jendryk 6, Smith 4, Christenson 1
Blocks: Smith 6, Jendryk 3, Christenson 2, Sander 1
Aces: Sander 3, Smith 3, Jaeschke 1, Christenson 1