The United States will be back at nearly-full strength for the Final 6 round of the 2018 FIVB Men’s Volleyball Nations League that begins on Wednesday in Lille, France.
While the injury to Thomas Jaescke is expected to keep him out for a while, the American lineup will see the return of both the injured Ben Patch (no specifics have been given on his injury) and Taylor Sander, who sat out the last 4 weeks of the preiminary rounds while awaiting his first child with his wife Rachel. Sander’s child, Atli Taylor Sander, was born on June 28th, and he’s now returned to the American lineup.
The returns will bring stability to the American lineup after they struggled with a short-handed lineup in week 5 of the preliminary stages, losing to both France and Russia.
What’s further interesting is that the U.S. has listed Matt Anderson as an outside hitter and brought rookie opposite Kyle Ensing, who made his senior National Team debut earlier this summer, back to the roster as Patch’s backup at opposite. Earlier this summer, and in past summers, the Americans have used Anderson at opposite because of their lack of experience there, plus significant depth at the outside hitter position.
This summer, though, has proven that the Americans are at their best when the long and athletic Patch is playing well at opposite and Anderson plays at his more natural outside hitter spot.
If Patch’s injury were to flare up again, the first move would likely be to return Anderson to opposite with Sander, DeFalco, and Russell still as a world-class contingent at the outside.
The Americans will start their Final 6 tournament on Thursday, the 2nd day of pool play, against Poland. They’ll then play Russia on Friday, July 6th. The two teams that emerge from those games, plus the one between Russia and Poland, with the best results will advance to the knockout stages that begin on Saturday.
Pool B Schedule
|Date||Lille Time (GMT + 2)||US Eastern Time (GMT -4)||Home Team||Away Team|
|5 Jul||18:00||12:00||United States||Poland|
|6 Jul||18:00||12:00||Russia||United States|
United States Roster, Final 6, 2018 FIVB Men’s Nations League
- Setters: Micah Christenson, Kawika Shoji
- Outside Hitters: Taylor Sander, TJ DeFalco, Aaron Russell, Matt Anderson
- Opposite: Ben Patch, Kyle Ensing
- Middle Blockers: Max Holt, David Smith, Daniel McDonnell, Jeff Jendryk
- Liberos: Erik Shoji, Dustin Watten