The Americans will be getting 3 of their star players back for week 2 of the 2018 FIVB Men’s Volleyball Nations League as the team heads to Goiania, Brazil to face Japan (2-1), South Korea (0-3), and Brazil (2-1). Matt Anderson, Micah Christenson, and Aaron Russell, all of whom sat out last week while coming on a short turnaround from the 2018 CEV European Champions League, will rejoin the team in Brazil.
Heading home will be backup setter Jonah Seif, collegiate opposite Kyle Ensing, and outside hitter Taylor Sander.
Seif, the likely heir to the backup setter role when 30-year old Kawika Shoji is done with the National Team, saw action in all 3 matches in the first week of play. Sander was the teams top scorer, and the tournament’s 3rd-best scorer, in week 1 with 55 points. USA Volleyball says that Sander returned home for “personal reasons;” his wife is expected to give birth in the coming days.
Christenson is the Americans’ usual starting setter – he played in the Champions League Final 4 with Civitanova. Russell, unlike many of his Perugia teammates, did not participate in the first week of the Nations League. He missed last year’s World League while rehabbing an ankle injury, but returned in time for the late-summer tournaments, including the Grand Champions Cup.
Anderson played in the Champions League for the winners Zenit Kazan. The veteran 31-year old hitter was the best opposite at last year’s Grand Champion Cup and was the United States’ Player of the Year for 4 straight years from 2012-2015. He’ll likely start over Ben Patch at the opposite position, though his preferred professional position is outside hitter – where the Americans are deeper and more experienced than they are at the opposite.
Anderson and Russell were the United States’ top two scorers at last year’s Grand Champions Cup after neither participated in the World League.
The Americans are one of 4 teams that went undefeated in the first week of play, and based on tie-breakers rank 4th of those 4 teams (behind Poland, France, and Italy).
Top Scorers, week 1 of 2018 Men’s FIVB Nations League:
- Ivan Zaytsev, Italy – 69
- Chuan Jiang, China – 56
- Taylor Sander, USA – 54
- (TIE) Nikolay Uchikov, Bulgaria/Yuji Nishida, Japan – 51
2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League
U.S. Men’s 14-Man Travel Roster for China
1. Matt Anderson (Opp, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2. Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State)
4. Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
8. T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Hawaii, Southern California)
12. Max Holt (MB, 6-10, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
13. Ben Patch (Opp, 6-8, Provo, Utah, 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)
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
Schedule and Results (all times PT)
At Ningbo, China
May 25: USA def Argentina, 25-27, 24-26, 26-24, 25-21, 15-10
May 26: USA def Bulgaria vs USA, 25-19, 22-25, 25-19, 25-20
May 27: USA def China, 25-20, 26-24, 25-18
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., USA – GET 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
Final Round (must qualify): July 1-4 in Lille, France