In 2016, the U.S. Men’s National Team had eight players in Rio de Janeiro competing in their first Olympic Games. Even with such a young team, the U.S. Men fought back from an 0-2 pool-play start and a crushing semifinal loss to Italy to earn the bronze medal.
TOKYO (July 25, 2021) – The U.S. Men opened the Olympic Games with a strong performance, sweeping France, 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-22) on Saturday at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
“It’s the Olympic Games and I think we’re really prepared for the level of competitive energy that’s required to compete at the Olympic Games,” Head Coach John Speraw said. “It’s different. The guys know it. We learned it the hard way last time (at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games). We had to go down 0-2 before we found what it took from our gut to really get to the place we needed to be, but they got there on day one today. That’s a veteran team out there.”
Speraw started Matt Anderson at opposite, Taylor Sander and TJ DeFalco at outside hitter, Micah Christenson at setter, Max Holt and David Smith at middle blocker, and Erik Shoji at libero.
The U.S. Men jumped out of the gates with fiery energy and took an early 5-0 lead at the start of the first set. France went down 16-9 and never recovered after an excellent dig by DeFalco on the line which led to a Smith kill. DeFalco looked comfortable and was a big contributor in his Olympic Games debut.
“It’s what we need from him,” Sander said. “He does a lot of special things out there. I know the Olympic Games is a big stage but we’ve been doing this our whole lives and we just need to understand that we don’t need to do anything special while we’re here. We just need to do what we do everyday in practice and I think he did that. He’s a great player, bright future and stoked to have him on our team.”
The U.S. Men dominated the second set and controlled the third set most of the way through. France made a little run at the end of the third, but the U.S. Men were able to recover quickly to complete the 3-0 sweep.
The U.S. Men led in kills (50-33) and blocks (5-2) while France led in aces (3-1). Sander was top scorer for the match (15) followed by Anderson (13). Sander also led all players in blocks (2). Shoji led all players in digs (6) followed by Sander, DeFalco and Christenson (5).
“It feels good to start like that,” Sander said. “We knew three weeks ago we weren’t that good. We put in a lot of hard work and kept believing in our systems and that was the key. I think we were the more comfortable team tonight and it showed in the way that we played together, had good energy, and then just did what we’ve been doing the last three weeks in practice. Work every point and follow our scouting report, and I think tonight that was a demonstration of us doing what we do.”
The U.S. Men will play the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) next on Sunday, July 25 at 7:05 p.m. PT. All matches are being shown live along with replays later the same or next day. Visit NBC Olympics for broadcast information.
U.S. Men’s Roster for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
No. Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1 Matt Anderson (OPP, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State Univ.)
3 Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., Brigham Young Univ.)
5 Kyle Ensing (OPP, 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 TJ DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State Univ.)
11 Micah Christenson (S, 6-5, Honolulu, Hawaii, Univ. of Southern California)
12 Max Holt (MB, 6-10, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State 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)
20 David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., Univ. of California Irvine)
22 Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford Univ.)
Head Coach John Speraw
Asst. Coach Brian Thornton
Asst. Coach Matthew Fuerbringer
Asst. Coach Mike Wall
Team Manager Erik Sullivan
Technical Coordinator Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer Aaron Brock
Strength Coach Timothy Pelot
Doctor Chris Lee
Statistician/Scout Andrew Strick
Massage Therapist Jennifer Holt
U.S. Men’s Olympic Schedule (all times Pacific)
July 24: USA def France 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-22)
July 24 at 3:00 p.m.: USA vs France (replay) NBCSN
July 24 at 7:00 p.m.: USA vs France (replay) NBCSN
July 25 at 7:05 p.m.: USA vs ROC Watch Live
July 26 at 6:00 p.m.: USA vs ROC (replay) NBCSN
July 27 at 7:05 p.m.: USA vs Tunisia Watch Live
July 28 at 2:45 p.m.: USA vs Tunisia (replay) USA Network
July 28 at 6:00 p.m.: USA vs Tunisia (replay) NBCSN
July 29 at 7:05 p.m.: Brazil vs USA Watch Live
July 30 at 9:00 a.m.: Brazil vs USA (replay) USA Network
July 30 at 11:00 p.m.: Brazil vs USA (replay) NBCSN
August 1 at 5:45 a.m.: USA vs Argentina Watch Live
August 1 at 7:00 p.m. USA vs Argentina (replay) NBCSN
August 2-3: Quarterfinals
August 4-5: Semifinals
August 6: Bronze medal match
August 7: Gold medal match