COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 22, 2018) – The U.S. Men’s National Team, ranked No. 2 in the world, will open the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) minus some stars but still maintaining some consistency.

Unlike the 2017 FIVB World League, only one player on the 14-man roster for the opening weekend (May 25-27) in Ningbo, China, has not been on a senior Men’s National Team roster and that would be Long Beach State opposite Kyle Ensing.

Ensing, an LBSU junior, and his team won the NCAA Men’s DI-II National Championship on May 5. In the final, they defeated U.S. Men’s Head Coach John Speraw and his UCLA team.

The U.S. team in Ningbo will be missing starters and Olympians Matt Anderson, Aaron Russell and Micah Christenson, all of whom just finished with their international club teams two weeks ago. But don’t expect them to be gone for long.

Speraw is looking forward to the opportunities presented by the first weekend.

“We’re committed to making everybody better in the gym,” said the sixth-year head coach. “We know if we make everybody better, we will be better in the end. This is a good opportunity to work with young guys and check on development.”

Olympians on the roster for China are outside hitters Taylor Sander and Thomas Jaeschke, middle blockers David Smith and Max Holt, setter Kawika Shoji and libero Erik Shoji.

World league veterans on the roster are outside hitters T.J. DeFalco and Jake Langlois, middle blockers Jeff Jendryk and Taylor Averill, opposite Ben Patch, setter Jonah Seif and libero Dustin Watten.

The VNL format this year mirrors the format of the last two years of FIVB World League. Three teams travel to a different location each weekend and play a round robin, then move on to the next country for five straight weekends.

The United States will go from China to Brazil to Canada to Hoffman Estates to Italy.

“The staff has bee working hard to get ready,” Speraw said. “Obviously there’s a tight turnaround (from winter) and a lot of matches in a short period of time. We will have to see who is bringing what roster when we arrive.

“We definitely know the teams we will be playing are very good. I think it’s going to be a great tournament.”

The top five teams, plus host France, will compete in the Final Round on July 1-4 in Lille.

In the last year of World League in 2017, the U.S. Men played without Anderson, Russell and Max Holt and still finished fourth despite some early pool play losses. In the bronze medal match, the United States lost to Canada. France beat Brazil in the final.

The FIVB has selected to show VNL matches live in the United States. This is a subscription service.

2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League

U.S. Men’s 21-Man Roster

1. Matt Anderson (Opp, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2. Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State)
3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
5. James Shaw (S, 6-8, Woodside, Calif., Stanford)
6. Mitch Stahl (MB, 6-8, Chambersburg, Pa., UCLA)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
8. T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
10.Dan McDonnell (MB, 6-6, Phoenix, Ariz., UC Irvine)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
12. Max Holt (MB, 6-10, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
13. Ben Patch (Opp, 6-8, Provo, Utah, BYU)
15. Brenden Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
17. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola)
18. Jake Langlois (OH, 6-10, San Jose, Calif., BYU)
19. Taylor Averill (MB, 6-7, San Jose, Calif., Hawaii)
20C. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
21. Dustin Watten (L, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
23. Jonah Seif (S, 6-6, Thousand Oaks, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
26. Kyle Ensing (Opp, 6-7, Valencia, Calif., Long Beach State)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Manager: Andrea Becker
Assistant Coaches: Rob Neilson and Brian Thornton
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Team Doctor: William Stetson

14-Man Travel Roster for May 25-27 in Ningbo, China

3. Taylor Sander
4. Jeff Jendryk
7. Kawika Shoji
8. T.J. DeFalco
12. Max Holt
13. Ben Patch
17. Thomas Jaeschke
18. Jake Langlois
19. Taylor Averill
20C. David Smith
21. Dustin Watten
22. Erik Shoji
23. Jonah Seif
26. Kyle Ensing

Schedule and Results (all times PT)
At Ningbo, China

May 25 at 1 a.m.: Argentina vs USA
May 26 at 1 a.m.: Bulgaria vs USA
May 27 at 4:30 a.m.: China vs USA

At Goiânia, Brazil
June 1 at 8:15 a.m.: Japan vs USA
June 2 at 7:10 a.m.: Korea vs USA
June 3 at 8:40 a.m.: Brazil vs USA

At Ottawa, Canada
June 8 at 1:40 p.m.: Germany vs USA
June 9 at 1:10 p.m.: USA vs Australia
June 10 at 1:10 p.m.: Canada vs USA

At Hoffman Estates, Ill., USAGET TICKETS
June 15 at 5:30 p.m.: USA  vs. Serbia
June 16 at 5:30 p.m.: USA vs. Poland
June 17 at 2:30 p.m.: USA vs. Iran

At Modena, Italy
June 22 at 8:30 a.m.: USA vs France
June 23 at 8:30 a.m.: USA vs Russia
June 24 at 11:30 a.m.: Italy vs USA

-17: Serbia, Poland, Iran – TICKETS in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
June 22-24: Italy, Russia, France in Italy