The U.S. Men’s National Team swept Poland, the top-ranked team in the world, 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-19) on Saturday to complete a perfect 4-0 Week 2 of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) preliminary round in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 24, 2023) – The U.S. Men’s National Team swept Poland, the top-ranked team in the world, 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-19) on Saturday to complete a perfect 4-0 Week 2 of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) preliminary round in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The U.S. moved to 7-1 in VNL play this season and is in second place in the overall standings behind undefeated Japan. The U.S. Men have ascended to No. 2 in the world rankings.
Outsider hitter T.J. DeFalco led the U.S. with 17 points, including a team-high 14 kills to go with a block and two services aces. Outside hitter Aaron Russell totaled eight kills and opposite Matt Anderson added seven. In addition to running the offense that finished with a 38-29 advantage in kills, captain and setter Micah Christenson led the U.S. with four blocks.
Five players recorded at least one service ace as the U.S. ended the match with a 7-2 advantage in aces. Anderson and DeFalco each registered two aces.
“In the second and third sets, we started serving better and putting more pressure on them, being better in execution,” said Anderson, who gave a clear answer as to how the U.S. team can be so system-based and creative at the same time. “Micah Christenson. In my mind, he is the best setter in the world. When he has the chance to get his hands on the ball, we can do anything. It’s on our passers to get him a ball he can go up and set, and then we just run with it.”
Christenson set the team to a .378 hitting efficiency. Poland hit .200.
The U.S. yielded the first four points of the match but scored six of the next seven points. Neither team led by more than two points after that until the U.S., buoyed by scoring four consecutive points to turn a 19-17 deficit into a 21-19 lead, scored eight of the final 11 points to take the set by three.
“They started serving us really tough and that put a lot of stress on our offense and on our spikers on the pin to put balls away,” Anderson stated. “What I liked is we really never game up. We were running balls down and getting tips, playing overall great defense.”
The U.S. Men controlled the second set, jumping out to a 12-6 lead. An Anderson ace made it 17-11 and Poland got no closer than four points for the remainder of the set. Poland went on a 6-2 run early in the third set to take a 10-9 lead, but back-to-back DeFalco kills gave the U.S. a lead it would never relinquish. An athletic tip by middle blocker Jeff Jendryk made it 18-14 and Christenson put down an emphatic kill for a 20-15 lead.
Volleyball Nations League is the world’s premier annual international indoor volleyball tournament. The top 16 teams in the world play four matches a week for three weeks of preliminary competition. The top eight teams at the end of the preliminaries will go to the Final Round.
The U.S. Men will host the third round of preliminary play in Anaheim, California, on July 4-9.
Get tickets for the Anaheim matches at volleyballworld.com
U.S. Men’s National Team Roster for Week 2
2023 Volleyball Nations League
No. Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College, USAV Region)
1 Matt Anderson (Opp, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State, Western Empire)
2 Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State, Chesapeake)
4 Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola Univ. Chicago, Great Lakes)
8 T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State Univ., Southern California)
9 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)
16 Josh Tuaniga (S, 6-3, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State Univ., Southern California)
17 Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola Univ. Chicago, Great Lakes)
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 Fuerbringer, Javier Weber
Performance Analyst and Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Team Manager: David Dantes
Team Doctor: James Suchy
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 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