T.J. DeFalco attack

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 7, 2023) – Netherlands kept pushing but the U.S. Men’s National Team pushed back harder and won their opening Volleyball Nations League match 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-21) on Wednesday in Ottawa, Canada.

The U.S. Men (1-0) will be back in action on Thursday when they will face world No. 4 Italy (0-1) at 1:30 p.m. PT.


The U.S. Men led Netherlands in kills (41-36), blocks (8-2) and aces (6-3). The U.S. scored on 20 Netherlands errors while giving up 22 points on errors.

“That was the first match of the season. It looked like it,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “Even though we didn’t play as smooth volleyball as we will later in the season, I thought we still had a lot of confidence, a lot of poise. Guys didn’t seem very rattled at any point when they put a little pressure on us, which they did in the second and third sets.”

Outside hitter T.J. DeFalco led the U.S. Men with 13 points on 10 kills and three aces, which came in a row during the first set. Opposite Jake Hanes added 12 points on eight kills, two blocks and two aces.

Outside hitter Aaron Russell scored 11 points on nine kills and two blocks. Middle blocker David Smith scored 10 points on eight kills and two blocks. Middle Jeff Jendryk totaled five points on five kills.

Setter and Team Captain Micah Christenson set the team to a .413 hitting efficiency while also contributing four points on two blocks, one ace and one emphatic kill that was not the usual setter dump, but instead came off a set when the team was out of system.

“The goal is not to be playing perfect volleyball at the moment,” Christenson said. “Right now, we are working on our connections and our team resilience… I think we did a great job with that. In the second set they put a lot of pressure on us. We stayed resilient, we stayed together, and we pulled out a nice victory that propelled us to a 3-0 win.”

Netherlands’ Nimir Abdel-Aziz led all scorers with 24 points on 21 kills, two aces and one block. No one else with Netherlands scored more than five points.

U.S. libero Erik Shoji was credited with five digs and two successful receptions. Christenson led in digs with eight. DeFalco and outside hitter Aaron Russell each had six successful receptions.

Outside hitter Cody Kessel played as a substitute.

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 at 1:30 p.m. USA vs Italy
June 10 at 5 p.m. USA vs Canada
June 11 at 11:30 a.m. USA vs Brazil

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