Micah Christenson and Matt Anderson celebrate

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 19, 2023) – The U.S. Men’s National Team was hoping its Volleyball Nations League quarterfinal match against France on Wednesday might be over quickly, but France had other ideas.

The defending VNL champions took the U.S. Men to five sets, but the U.S. held on for the 3-2 (25-21, 25-18 17-25, 24-26, 15-9) win in Gdansk, Poland.


The U.S. Men (11-2) will play Italy (11-2) in the semifinals on Saturday. Italy beat Argentina in the second semifinal 3-0 (25-17, 25-13, 25-14).

At the end of the match, the U.S. led France in kills (61-58) while France led in blocks (11-8) and aces (6-5).

U.S. opposite Matt Anderson led all scorers with 22 points on a match-high 20 kills and a team-high two aces.

After the U.S. won the first two sets, France brought in setter Antoine Brizard for team captain Benjamin Toniutti and opposite Jean Patry for starter Stephen Boyer. The move worked and the U.S. defense started to struggle.

U.S. Head Coach John Speraw brought outside hitter Garrett Muagututia and middle blocker David Smith in for the fourth and fifth sets to steady the ship.

In the fifth set, the teams were tied 5-5 when the U.S. scored on kills from Muagututia (after a great reception from libero Erik Shoji) and Anderson to take the lead for good.

“It got a little close there throughout the whole match,” U.S. setter Micah Christenson said. “We got to a tie break and were able to pull away, which was huge for us.

“To be able to get through a battle like this and move along will really serve us in the semifinals.”

Christenson set the U.S. to .360 hitting efficiency (Italy hit .309) and scored one points with an ace. He also led the team in digs with 12. Shoji was credited with 10 digs and four successful receptions.

Outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke, who started in place of an ailing Aaron Russell, scored 16 points on 14 kills and two blocks. Outside hitter T.J. DeFalco added 12 points on 10 kills and two blocks. He led the team in successful receptions with seven.

Middle Max Holt scored nine points on six kills, two blocks and one ace. Starting middle Taylor Averill scored six points on five kills and one block.

Muagututia finished with four points on four kills. Smith scored four points on two kills, one block and one ace.


U.S. Men’s National Team Roster for Final Round

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)
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)
10 Kyle Dagostino (L, 5-9, Tampa, Florida, Stanford Univ., Florida)
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)
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: Matthew Fuerbringer and Javier Weber
Performance Analyst and Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Mental Performance Coach: Andrea Becker
Team Leader:
David Dantes
Strength and Conditioning Coach:
 Tim Pelot
Second Assistant Coach: Mortez Shiari
Team Doctor: Steven Stovitz

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 Argentina def USA 3-2 (25-18, 23-25, 23-25, 43-41, 15-12)
July 8 USA def France 3-0 (25-23, 27-25, 27-25)
July 9 USA def Bulgaria, 3-0 (29-27, 25-19, 25-21)

Final Round in Gdansk, Poland
USA def France 3-2 (25-21, 25-18 17-25, 24-26, 15-9)
July 22, time TBA USA vs Italy