Jake Hanes hits vs. Brazil

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 11, 2023) – The U.S. Men’s National Team fought hard against Brazil, but ultimately lost its first match of 2023 Volleyball Nations League play. The U.S. was bested 3-1 (19-25, 25-21,15-25, 21-25) on Sunday in the final match of the first week in Ottawa, Canada.


Brazil (3-1) previously defeated Germany and Argentina before losing a five-set match to Cuba on Saturday. The U.S. Men (3-1) started the week with three consecutive 3-0 victories against Netherlands, Italy, and Canada. The team will resume VNL competition on June 20 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The first match of week two will be against Serbia with a start time of 7:30 a.m. PT.

Early leads from Brazil forced the U.S. to play from behind for the majority of the match, resulting in several errors. Brazil forced 32 opponent errors throughout the four sets compared to 20 for the U.S.

The team was able to cut the lead to one in the first set at 13-12 before Brazil built a gap that ended in a 25-19 set win. Down 0-1, the U.S. did see encouraging signs from opposite Jake Hanes, who already had six of his 11 total points after one. Hanes finished with eight kills and three aces.

The U.S. rallied to take the lead in the second set at 10-9 and held on to even the match at one set apiece. Outside hitter Aaron Russell was the leading scorer at this point for the U.S. with six kills. Setter Micah Ma’a had contributed two of his three kills for the match.

Ma’a would also add a block and six digs to his final stat tally. Libero Erik Shoji was one of five U.S. players with three digs recorded in the match. As a team, Brazil held a 9-5 blocking advantage and recorded 42 total digs.

“They are playing much better defense than the other opponents we have played so far this week,” said head coach John Speraw after the second set. “I think that there were plays that we are used to ending that they are getting back up. They are attacking the ball really well high in the block, so they are not making many unforced errors, getting a lot of balls back on their side.”

The U.S. would fall into another deficit at 6-2 and then 11-4 early in the third. Speraw would use his timeout and shuffle the lineup to change the momentum.

Outside hitter Cody Kessel provided a spark off the bench in the final two sets as the U.S. tried to regain control. Kessel had 11 points off eight kills and three aces. Opposite Kyle Ensing added four points off three kills and a block as a substitution.

Middle blocker Max Holt, middle blocker Tayler Averill, and outside hitter T.J. DeFalco combined for 18 kills, and outside hitter Garrett Muagututia added three off the bench, but their combined efforts weren’t enough to overcome the Brazil attack.

“I think just the opportunity to take a breath, go back and reflect and look at some things and have a few days to train before we compete again will be very valuable,” said Speraw. “I think having everybody here early has given us the opportunity to lay a foundation of improvement that will be very meaningful for us going into next week.”

U.S. Men’s National Team 30-Athlete Roster for
2023 Volleyball Nations League

No. Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College, USAV Region)
Matt Anderson (Opp, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State, Western Empire)
Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State, Chesapeake)
Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola Univ. Chicago, Great Lakes)
Kyle Ensing (OPP, 6-7, Valencia, Calif., Long Beach State Univ., Southern California)
T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State Univ., Southern California)
Jake Hanes (OPP, 6-10, Orland Park, Ill., Ohio State Univ., Great Lakes)
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)
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)
23 Cody Kessel (OH, 6-5, Colorado Springs, Colo., Princeton Univ., Rocky Mountain)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Assistant Coaches: Matt FuerbringerJavier Weber
Second Assistant Coaches: Erik Sullivan
Performance Analyst and Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Team Manager: David Dantes
Sports Psychologist: Andrea Becker
Team Doctor: Andrew Gregory

U.S. Men’s Schedule for the 2023 VNL
All matches will be broadcast on volleyballworld.tv

Week 1 in Ottawa, Canada
(All times PT)
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 at 7:30 a.m. USA vs Serbia
June 21 at 7:30 a.m. USA vs China
June 23 at 7:30 a.m. USA vs Iran
June 24 at 4 a.m. USA vs Poland

Week 3 in Anaheim, California, USA
July 5 at 6:30 p.m. USA vs Cuba
July 7 at 6:30 p.m. USA vs Argentina
July 8 at 6:30 p.m. USA vs France
July 9 at 6:30 p.m. USA vs Bulgaria