The U.S. Men fought hard and nearly forced a fifth set, but fell to the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) 3-1 (25-23, 27-25, 21-25, 25-23) on Monday at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
TOKYO (July 28, 2021) – The U.S. Men overcame error woes to stave off a comeback from Tunisia and win 3-1 (25-14, 23-25, 25-14, 25-23) on Wednesday at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Head Coach John 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.
Outside hitters Thomas Jaeschke and Garrett Muagututia, and middle blocker Mitch Stahl all played as substitutes.
The U.S. Men started the first set really strong and served better than they had in their previous match against ROC, collecting two aces along the way to a quick 1-0 match lead. However, Tunisia would not go away easy. After falling to 10-4 deficit in the second set, Tunisia took advantage of U.S. errors and put together a four point run to get back in the set. Tunisia stayed close until taking it’s first lead at 19-18 after a missed connection between Christenson and Holt. Errors continued to plague the U.S. Men when a service error gave Tunisia match point and momentum to take the set on the next play.
“That’s really been uncharacteristic of us in this tournament, we have not had many un-forced errors,” Speraw said. “I think our offense has been great and right in the middle of that second set there’s a couple things that occurred there that really gave them life. One is [Hamza] Nagga came off the bench and was really good for them. Second, couple float serves came down the line at TJ and caught him off guard a little bit, we gave up a few points there. Third, we had a couple unforced errors out of the middle. The reality of these tournaments is that even though you’re supposed to win there’s good volleyball players on the other side of the net.”
The U.S. Men rebounded ran away with the third set behind a great offensive performance from DeFalco and a spark off the bench from Stahl.
“I think he [Mitch Stahl] comes in and is a huge spark plug for us” Christenson said. “He’s a crazy jumper, he flies around killing balls, and he had a great serving night tonight as well. I think he brings a lot of things when he comes off the bench and we’re very happy to have him for sure.”
Tunisia put up another fight in the fourth set and stayed close the whole way through, but the U.S. Men showed exceptional mental toughness to battle through and walk away with the win.
“I think the hard part about the fourth set was that we had a number of opportunities that we either just didn’t make good decisions or they didn’t go our way,” Speraw said. “That can be really deflating and through that section of the match I thought TJ DeFalco carried us offensively. We kept setting him on the left and he kept putting those balls away when we needed him. I thought he had a great match. We had to be tough at the end. We’ll just keep getting better through the course of the tournament, we’re going to have to be better against Brazil.”
The U.S. Men led in kills (66-41), blocks (9-6) and aces (6-1). DeFalco led all scorers (24) followed by Sander (17).
The U.S. Men will play Brazil next on Thursday, July 29 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.
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 T.J. 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 25: ROC def. USA 3-1 (25-23, 27-23, 21-25, 25-23)
July 27: USA def. TUN 3-1 (25-14, 23-25, 25-14, 25-23)
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