Men's Indoor Volleyball Preview

The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team, ranked No. 3 in the world by the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball, will most likely bring a large contingent of veterans to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021.

Nine players who won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 are still with the team in 2020, helping Team USA garner several impressive results since the 2016 Games. The U.S. Men earned bronze at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League and at the 2018 FIVB World Championship. It then opened 2019 with silver at the Volleyball National League and took bronze at the FIVB World Cup.

The team’s star continues to be opposite Matt Anderson, a two-time Olympian who was named best opposite of the 2018 Volleyball Nations League and 2018 World Championship, as well as most valuable player of the 2019 Volleyball Nations League. He is also USAV’s six-time male indoor player of the year.

Outside hitters Taylor Sander and Aaron Russell, middle blockers Max Holt and David Smith, setter Micah Christenson and libero Erik Shoji, are all veterans of the Rio Games, rounding out the starting seven. Backup setter Kawika Shoji, Erik’s brother, is hoping to make his second Olympic Team.

Outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke, a 2016 Olympian, tore his ACL during the 2018 Volleyball Nations League and returned to the team for the 2019 Volleyball Nations League. He then dislocated his shoulder during the 2019 World Cup. His overall recovery continues. Sander is also recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Head Coach John Speraw is in his seventh year as the team’s head coach and continues to bring in newer, younger talent in hopes of finding the right combination for gold in Tokyo.

Among the Olympic hopefuls are outside hitters Garrett Muagututia and T.J. DeFalco, middle blockers Jeff Jendryk and Mitch Stahl, opposite Ben Patch and setter/outside hitter Micah Ma’a.

Updated on July 19, 2020. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

During the national team offseason, U.S. indoor players compete in pro volleyball leagues in other countries. Most U.S. players were abroad when the pandemic hit in 2020 and had to find their way back to the United States as the leagues shut down.

Outside hitters Sander and Jaeschke were important parts of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team and hope to play in 2021. Sander is recovering from shoulder surgery while Jaeschke suffered two severe injuries at events in 2018 and 2019.

Team USA head coach Speraw started the First Point Volleyball Foundation to drive excitement for boys’ and men’s volleyball in the U.S. In addition to coaching the U.S. men, Speraw also coaches UCLA’s men’s volleyball team, and took the Bruins to the NCAA championship match in 2018, falling to Long Beach State University.

Four U.S. men’s players – Matt Anderson, Taylor Sander, Micah Christenson and Kawika Shoji – became fathers for the first time in 2018 and 2019, while David Smith had his second child. A team that was so young at the Rio Games is now growing up and starting families.

Matt Anderson (West Seneca, New York)

Anderson is a six-time USA Volleyball Male Indoor Player of the Year and MVP of the 2019 Volleyball Nations League, where the U.S. earned silver. He is considered one of the most versatile players in the world, excelling at both outside hitter and opposite positions. Anderson’s Russian club team, Zenit Kazan, hung his jersey from the rafters in 2019 after he announced he would be playing for a club team in Italy the following season.

Ben Patch (Provo, Utah)

Patch has brought a lot of energy to the U.S. men’s team at the opposite position with his dancing on the court and his love of photography and pottery off it. His goal is more consistent play as the Tokyo Games draw closer.

Erik and Kawika Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii)

Brothers Erik and Kawika are of Japanese descent on their father’s side and are hoping to compete together in Tokyo at a second-straight Olympic Games. Father Dave Shoji was the longtime head coach of the women’s team at the University of Hawaii. Under his leadership, the Rainbow Wahine won four national titles in 1979, 1982, 1983 and 1987.

The U.S. men qualified for Tokyo 2020 by winning the International Olympic Qualification Tournament on Aug. 9-11, 2019 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The U.S. men beat Belgium, Korea and Netherlands in a round robin tournament.

The coaching staff will recommend the final roster and replacement players to the USA Volleyball selection review committee from the members of the available player pool. The recommendations will be based upon the selection criteria, including cumulative statistical, videotape, written and observational evaluations of the U.S. men’s and women’s national volleyball team coaching staff.

May 14-16, 2021: The U.S. Men will host Argentina, Brazil and Canada, all Olympic qualifiers, at a Volleyball Nations League preliminary round match in Pittsburgh.

The 2021 Volleyball Nations League tournament consists of five weekends of preliminary matches followed by a final round. The top 16 men’s teams in the world generally participate.

July 2, 2021: U.S. Olympic Team selected