U.S. Men's National Team competing at VNL

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 3, 2021) – The U.S. Men’s National Team had some amazing moments in its match against Russia. Unfortunately, the moments did not add up to a victory and Russia prevailed 3-1 (25-22, 25-29, 17-25, 25-19) on Thursday at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy.

The U.S. Men (2-2) will face another tough squad on Friday when they play defending world champion Poland (3-1) at 9 a.m. PT.

Russia, the defending VNL champion, led the U.S. Men in kills (56-52) and blocks (6-5) while the U.S. Men led in aces (3-2). Russia scored 28 points on U.S. errors while committing 25.


Outside hitters Thomas Jaeschke and T.J. DeFalco led the U.S. in scoring with 16 and 12 points respectively. Jaeschke scored on 14 kills (.571), one block and one ace. DeFalco scored on 10 kills and a match-high two blocks.

Each player had some great plays, but none better than when they both hopped over the back court barrier at the same time to retrieve a shanked ball in the third set. DeFalco passed the ball back onto the court and Christenson passed the free ball over to Russia. When Russia went for an attack, DeFalco was back on the right side to get the solo block on Russia’s Anton Semyshev.

But the third-set heroics weren’t enough to get the U.S. Men a victory

“We started to play our game in the third set,” said setter and Team Captain Micah Christenson, who scored five points on four kills and an ace and set the U.S. to a .360 hitting efficiency. “We let the first and second sets get away from us a little bit. Once you’re playing from behind against Russia, it’s a little hard.”

Libero Erik Shoji also played a key role in the match, handling Russia’s tough hitting and serving. He was credited with eight digs and 10 successful receptions.

U.S. Head Coach John Speraw started Jaeschke and DeFalco at outside hitter, David Smith and Jeff Jendryk at middle blocker, Ben Patch at opposite, Christenson at setter and Erik Shoji at libero.

Kyle Ensing subbed in for Patch in the second set and Taylor Averill replaced Jendryk. Mitch Stahl started the third set for Smith.

“We’re taking this opportunity to learn,” Christenson said. “I think we got better tonight, but it just wasn’t enough to get a victory.

“We’re going to have to take these experiences and learn quickly against a very tough opponent in Poland.”

U.S. Men’s Roster for June 3

No. Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
4 Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola Univ. Chicago)
5 Kyle Ensing (OP, 6-7, Valencia, Calif., Long Beach State Univ.)
6 Mitch Stahl (MB, 6-8, Chambersburg, Pa., Univ. of California Los Angeles)
7 Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford Univ.)
8 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)
13 Ben Patch (OP, 6-8, Layton, Utah, Brigham Young 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)
19 Taylor Averill (MB, 6-7, San Jose, Calif., Univ. of Hawaii)
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 at 9 a.m.: Poland vs USA
June 5 at 9 a.m.: USA vs Australia

June 9 at 7 a.m.: Iran vs USA
June 10 at 7 a.m.: Germany vs USA
June 11 at 7 a.m.: USA vs Serbia

June 15 at noon: Italy vs USA
June 16 at 10:30 a.m.: USA vs France
June 17 at 9 a.m.: Netherlands vs USA

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