The U.S. Men's National Team beat Brazil in four sets for a spot in the VNL Finals semifinal round. They took control of the match late in the third set, rallying to claim the frame and using that momentum for an early lead in the fourth.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 23, 2022) – The U.S. Men’s National Team is returning to the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) gold medal match.
“We’re proud of the guys and excited to be back in the VNL final,” U.S. MNT Head Coach John Speraw said. “These are special experiences, and we’re excited about the opportunity to compete for gold.”
The U.S. will face France in the championship, which takes place Sunday, July 24, at noon Pacific in Bologna, Italy. It will be streamed live at VolleyballWorld.tv.
This is the second time the U.S. will play for VNL gold. They took silver in 2019.
The U.S. clinched a finals berth Saturday with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-13) semifinal sweep of Poland in Bologna. The U.S. led every offensive category, landing 38 kills, six blocks and nine service aces.
Additionally, the MNT tallied four more digs than their European counterparts, 35-31.
T.J. DeFalco led all scorers with 13 points: six kills, one block and six aces, all but one coming in the third. David Smith also reached double figures with six kills, three blocks, and an ace. Five other Americans found the floor at least once. Libero Erik Shoji led the match with nine digs.
The first two frames were close. Both featured at least three lead changes and 12 tie scores. With the score tied at 21-all in the first set, Micah Christenson saved a hard pass from going over the net and set up Smith for a kill, putting the U.S. on top. Aaron Russell and DeFalco won two more points for set point at 24-21. Poland fought off one set point, but Russel ended the frame with a kill for the early U.S. advantage.
In the second, the U.S. trailed by three at 16-19 but whittled the deficit to one at 19-20. Shoji then made back-to-back digs that led to points, putting the U.S. ahead. Poland sided out for another tie score, but Smith and Jeff Jendryk combined for consecutive kills and a two-point U.S. lead. Three sideouts later, Christenson clinched the set with a block.
Set three was vastly different. The U.S. jumped out to leads of 7-3 and 10-4, and Poland could only earn intermittent sideouts as Team USA continued the service pressure. Eight of the nine American service aces came in set three, and they cruised to a 12-point set win to clinch the match.
“We won the first set on good defensive execution,” Speraw said. “We were digging a lot of balls and giving ourselves the opportunity to score. The second was another example of us playing with poise and great competitive energy in coming back to win, again making critical digs at important times.
“In the third set, our serving was outstanding. At one point, it was six aces, zero errors. That’ll get it done.”
France and the U.S. met July 6 in the VNL preliminary round. The U.S. won, 3-2 (15-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-14, 15-8).
“We know we have a tough opponent in France,” Speraw said. “We’ve had great matches with them in the past, and we’ll have another one tomorrow.”
U.S. Men’s National Team Roster for Final Round of
2022 Volleyball Nations League
No. Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College, USAV Region)
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)
5 Kyle Ensing (OPP, 6-7, Valencia, Calif., Long Beach State Univ., Southern California)
6 Mitch Stahl (MB, 6-8, Chambersburg, Pa., UCLA, Keystone)
8 T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State Univ., Southern California)
10 Kyle Dagostino (L, 5-9, Tampa, Florida, Stanford Univ., Florida)
11 Micah Christenson (S, 6-5, Honolulu, Hawaii, Univ. of Southern California, Aloha)
15 Kyle Russell (OPP, 6-9, Loomis, Calif., UC Irvine, Northern California)
16 Josh Tuaniga (S, 6-3, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State Univ., Southern California)
18 Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA, Southern 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., Aloha)
23 Cody Kessel (OH, 6-5, Colorado Springs, Colo., Princeton Univ., Rocky Mountain)
27 Tyler Mitchem (MB, 6-11, Bolingbrook, Ill., Lewis Univ., Great Lakes)
U.S. Men’s Schedule for the 2022 VNL (All times PDT)
All matches to be shown on VolleyballWorld.tv
Preliminary Round 1 – Brasilia, Brazil
USA def Slovenia, 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-14)
USA def Netherlands, 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 25-16)
USA def Japan, 3-2 (17-25, 25-15, 25-21, 26-28, 15-9)
USA def Brazil, 3-1 (21-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-20)
Preliminary Round 2 – Sofia, Bulgaria
USA def Serbia, 3-1 (26-24, 23-25, 25-23, 25-20)
Iran def USA, 3-0 (25-18, 29-27, 27-25)
USA def Bulgaria, 3-1 (25-12, 20-25, 26-24, 25-23)
Poland def USA, 3-1 (21-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-22)
Preliminary Round 3 – Osaka, Japan
USA def Germany, 3-1 (25-21, 25-19, 22-25, 25-18)
USA def France, 3-2 (15-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-14, 15-8)
USA def Canada, 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-19)
USA def Argentina, 3-2 (29-27, 22-25, 20-25, 25-13, 17-15)
Final Round – Bologna, Italy
USA def. Brazil, 3-1 (20-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-17)
Noon Pacific: Italy def. Netherlands, 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 25-13, 25-22)
9 a.m. Pacific: France def. Japan, 3-0 (26-24, 25-16, 25-20)
Noon Pacific: Poland def. Iran, 3-2 (25-21, 24-26, 25-18, 16-25, 15-7)
USA def. Poland, 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 15-13)
France def. Italy, 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-15)
Bronze Medal Match
Sunday, July 24, 9 a.m. PT: Italy vs. Poland
Sunday, July 24, Noon PT: USA vs. France