For the first time since 2016, the U.S. Men’s National Team will compete near its training center in Southern California when it plays its final four Volleyball Nations League (VNL) preliminary matches on July 5-9 in Anaheim
ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 5, 2023) – The U.S. Men’s National Team recovered from a slow start to defeat Cuba 3-0 (27-25, 25-17, 25-15) in a Volleyball Nations League (VNL) preliminary round match on Wednesday at the Anaheim Convention Center.
The U.S. Men (8-1) remain in second place in the VNL standings. They will have Thursday off before three straight days of competition against Argentina (8:30 p.m. PT on Friday), France (8:30 p.m. PT on Saturday) and Bulgaria (8:30 p.m. PT on Sunday).
Opposite Matt Anderson and outside hitter Aaron Russell led the U.S. Men with 13 and 12 points respectively. Anderson scored on nine kills and a match-high four aces. Russell scored on nine kills, two blocks and one ace.
The U.S. Men finished with eight aces, but none in the first set. The U.S. Men went on to lead in kills (38-30), blocks (7-4) and errors (8-2). The U.S. scored on 24 Cuban errors while committing 21.
“(In the first set) They were serving well. It put a lot of stress on our side out,” said Anderson, who finished the second set with two straight aces. “We held onto it. Toward the end, it got to the point where we had to make a play. Fortunately for us we did.”
Among other U.S. scorers, outside hitter T.J. DeFalco had nine points on seven kills, one block and one ace.
“As soon as we were able to weather (the first set), we could force little errors from them and they lost their rhythm,” DeFalco said. “Bombing serves is what gives them their rhythm. We made them play, forced them to do their thing and that’s when we started to break them down.”
Middle blocker David Smith added eight points on five kills, two blocks and one ace.
Setter Micah Christenson set the team to a .394 hitting efficiency. He also scored two points on a kill and a block. Libero Erik Shoji was credited with seven digs and seven excellent receptions.
Middle Max Holt scored six points on four kills, one block and one ace. Outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke subbed in for Russell in the third set and scored three points on three kills. Opposite Kyle Russell also played as a serving substitute.
Volleyball Nations League is the world’s premier annual international indoor volleyball tournament. The top 16 teams in the world play four matches a week for three weeks of preliminary competition. The top eight teams at the end of the preliminaries will go to the Final Round on July 19-23 in Gdansk, Poland.
U.S. Men’s Roster for Preliminary Week 3
2023 Volleyball Nations League
No. Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College, USAV Region)
1 Matt Anderson (Opp, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State, Western Empire)
2 Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State, Chesapeake)
4 Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola Univ. Chicago, Great Lakes)
5 Kyle Ensing (OPP, 6-7, Valencia, Calif., Long Beach State Univ., Southern California)
8 T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State Univ., Southern California)
11 Micah Christenson (S, 6-5, Honolulu, Hawaii, Univ. of Southern California, Hawaii)
12 Max Holt (MB, 6-10, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State, Ohio Valley)
14 Micah Ma’a (S, 6-3, Kaneohe, Hawaii, UCLA, Aloha)
15 Kyle Russell (OPP, 6-9, Loomis, Calif., UC Irvine, Northern California)
17 Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola Univ. Chicago, Great Lakes)
18 Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA, Southern California)
19 Taylor Averill (MB, 6-7, San Jose, Calif., Univ. of Hawaii, Northern California)
20 David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., Univ. of California Irvine, Southern California)
22 Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford Univ., Hawaii)
Head Coach: John Speraw
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer, Javier Weber
Second Assistant Coaches: Morteza Shiari, Mike Wall
Performance Analyst and Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Tim Pelot
Team Manager: David Dantes
Sports Psychologist: Andrea Becker
Team Doctors: Chris Koutures, Christopher Lee, James Suchy, Eugene Yim
U.S. Men’s Schedule for the 2023 VNL
All matches will be broadcast on volleyballworld.tv
Week 1 in Ottawa, Canada
June 7 USA def Netherlands 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-21)
June 8 USA def Italy 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-19)
June 10 USA def Canada 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-20)
June 11 Brazil def USA 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 15-25, 21-25)
Week 2 in Rotterdam, Netherlands
June 20 USA def Serbia 3-1 (22-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-21)
June 21 USA def China 3-0 (28-26, 25-22, 25-18)
June 23 USA def Iran 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-23)
June 24 USA def Poland 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-19)
Week 3 in Anaheim, California, USA
July 5 USA def Cuba 3-0 (27-25, 25-17, 25-15)
July 7 at 8:30 p.m. USA vs Argentina
July 8 at 8:30 p.m. USA vs France
July 9 at 8:30 p.m. USA vs Bulgaria
Final Round on July 19-23 in Gdansk, Poland