LONG BEACH, Calif. (May 11, 2016) – In a tale of two outside hitters coming back from injury to the U.S. Men’s National Team, Thomas Jaeschke and Reid Priddy made strong showings on Wednesday as the U.S. beat Japan, 25-18, 25-21, 25-21 in the USAV Cup at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach.
The U.S. split the two-match friendly series with the Asian side, which used the matches to prepare for the Asian Olympic qualifier later this month.
U.S. players used the matches to work their way back from their overseas club teams and also to start making their cases for a spot on the roster for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Priddy (Richmond, Va.), a three-time Olympian and 2008 gold medalist, ruptured his ACL during a World League match early in the 2014 season. He returned to play in an intra-squad scrimmage at the start of 2015, only to injure himself again. He did a stint at libero for the World League squad early in 2015 before focusing full time on rehabilitation.
He played for an Italian professional team at the start of 2016 before returning to the U.S.
He finished Wednesday’s match with nine points on nine kills and was also credited with 16 receptions, 69 percent positive.
“I feel like the last two years, for me personally, have been working toward this moment,” Priddy said. “I don’t have any more things I have to do. I just get to work hard on this team with these guys. It’s really exciting.”
Jaeschke (Wheaton, Ill.) had a promising 2015 season with the U.S. Men, only to injure himself during the USAV Cup friendly series against Brazil. He traveled with the team to the 2015 FIVB World Cup in Japan, but did not play. He spent the winter playing professionally in Poland.
“It’s just so good to be back in the gym with the guys and see all the fire everyone’s got right now,” Jaeschke said. “It’s great to be around all that again. It lights a fire under everyone, including me.”
Jaeschke led all scorers with 13 points on 10 kills and three blocks. He was credited with 15 receptions, 73 percent positive.
“I really wanted to work on my float serves and passing,” Jaeschke said. “I thought I had really good float serves. That’s something I need to work on. I struggled a little at the beginning, but I really locked it down later.”
Japan was led by Yuki Ishikawa, who finished with 10 points on nine kills and one block. The U.S. block came up big against Japan with David Smith (Saugus, Calif.) adding three and Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) and Dan McDonnell (Glendale, Ariz.) each notching two. The U.S. led in blocking (11-2) and kills (39-29) while the teams tied in aces (2-2).
U.S. Head Coach John Speraw was also back with the team after finishing his time with the UCLA men’s volleyball team at the NCAA championship.
“I like the energy and enthusiasm,” Speraw said of Wednesday’s match. “Guys were having fun out there. I thought they played really well together as a group.”
The U.S. Men will return to training until June 2, when they will travel to Cuba for friendly matches on June 4 and 6.
Wednesday’s U.S. Starters
Outside hitter: Reid Priddy and Thomas Jaeschke
Middle blocker: David Smith and Dan McDonnell
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Kawika Shoji
Libero: Erik Shoji
Kills: Jaeschke 10, Priddy 9, Anderson 8, Troy 5, Smith 5, McDonnell 2
Blocks: Jaeschke 3, Smith 3, McDonnell 2, Anderson 2, Averill 1
Aces: K Shoji 1, Smith 1