COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 11, 2021) – The U.S. Men’s National Team got close to forcing the fifth set, but fell to Serbia, 3-1 (25-23, 25-17, 19-25, 27-25) on Friday at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy.
The U.S. Men finish week three with a 4-5 record and will play Italy next at 7:30 a.m. on June 15.
Head Coach John Speraw started Brenden Sander and T.J. DeFalco at outside hitter, Matt Anderson at opposite, David Smith and Max Holt at middle blocker, Josh Tuaniga at setter and Erik Shoji at libero.
Ben Patch, Kawika Shoji and Garrett Muagututia all played as substitutes.
The first set was close the whole way through. The U.S. Men took scored three straight points with a couple DeFalco kills and a Serbia net touch to take a 23-22 lead, but Serbia responded to take set one.
Serbia got off to a fast start in set two with a 6-0 lead and the U.S. Men struggled to recover.
The third set was close until the U.S. Men scored four straight points to take a 19-14 lead thanks to two aces from Holt and two blocks from DeFalco and Smith. More blocking and a Serbia serve out allowed the U.S. Men to take set three. The U.S. Men recorded five blocks and four aces in set three.
“I think the service pressure is what we were able to adjust on,” DeFalco said. “Putting more pressure on them, getting more high ball situations and we were able to capitalize on the defensive and blocking side.”
Set four was another close one until Serbia went on a scoring run to take a 16-11 lead, but the U.S. Men wouldn’t go down without a fight. DeFalco and Muagututia helped lead the U.S. Men back into the match with timely kills and aggressive serving. Holt continued his great serving with a rocket off the Serbia receiver’s chest which led to a DeFalco kill and a 23-23 set score.
The U.S. Men continued to force the tie until Serbia closed the set 27-25 and won the match after an overpass kill.
The U.S. Men and Serbia tied in kills (55), Serbia led in blocks (11-8), the U.S. Men led in aces (7-5). DeFalco tied with Serbia’s Uros Kovacevic for best scorer (22). DeFalco had a team high 20 kills. DeFalco, Holt and Anderson all led the team with 2 blocks each. Smith had a team high 4 aces.
“I think we had a lot of challenges this week,” DeFalco said. “Iran, a very good young team, they were ready and we weren’t. Then with Germany it was the flip of that. We came out ready and it seemed like they weren’t ready for the game. So it’s just about who’s going to come out and make the first punch. It turned into a battle tonight. I thought we had a good week and we learned a lot.”
U.S. Men’s National Team 14-Person Roster for FIVB Volleyball Nations League
No. Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1 Matt Anderson (OP, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State Univ.)
3 Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., Brigham Young 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.)
12 Max Holt (MB, 6-10, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State Univ.)
13 Ben Patch (OP, 6-8, Layton, Utah, Brigham Young Univ.)
15 Brenden Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., Brigham Young Univ.)
16 Josh Tuaniga (S, 6-3, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State Univ.)
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.)
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: Poland def USA, 3-0 (25-17, 28-26, 25-17)
June 5: USA def Australia, 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-17)
June 9 at 9 a.m.: Iran def USA, 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-23)
June 10 at 7 a.m.: USA def Germany, 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 29-27)
June 11 at 9 a.m.: Serbia def USA, 3-1 (25-23, 25-17, 19-25, 27-25)
June 15 at 7:30 a.m.: 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