Newcomers, Vets Combine on World League Roster

By BJ Evans | April 15, 2015, 4:17 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 15, 2015) – An outside hitter from the 2014 U.S. Boys’ Youth Team  and a setter with a gold medal recommendation are two of the players making their debut on USA Volleyball’s 25-man preliminary roster for the 2015 FIVB World League.

2014 World League
   The 2014 U.S World League team won the Final Round in Italy.

The FIVB World League is an annual competition in which the top men’s national teams from around the world battle through six weekends of pool play in hopes of qualifying for the Final Round and winning a check for $1 million. The U.S. Men are the defending World League champions.

Coaches can select 14 players (with two liberos) from the 25-man preliminary roster for each World League weekend.

Outside hitter Torey “T.J.” DeFalco (Huntington Beach, Calif.), 18, is the youngest player on the roster. In 2014, he was named MVP and Best Spiker of the NORCECA Boys’ U19 Continental Championship as the U.S. Youth Team won the tournament with a 4-0 record, 12-0 in sets. He has also competed internationally on the beach. 

DeFalco, who currently plays for Huntington Beach High School and The Huntington Beach Club, will start his college career this fall at Long Beach State.

U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said DeFalco earned his place on the roster.

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“For me personally, age doesn’t matter,” Speraw said. “If someone is young and playing well and winning spots, I’m going to take a serious look at him. That’s the same this year as it has been in the past.”

Setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill.) finished his college career at Ball State in 2014 and played for Marienlyst in Denmark over the winter. Although Ball State did not make it to the NCAA tournament during his time there, McIlvaine did gain a powerful advocate.

Four-time Olympian Lloy Ball, who won a gold medal in Beijing in 2008, recommended McIlvaine to Speraw.

“I didn’t know much about Graham, but Lloy Ball was impressed by him and so are we,” Speraw said. “He’s a left-hander, a good athlete and he had a good year professionally overseas. We had him in the gym and took a look at some video and decided he would be the fourth setter.”

Other players making their World League preliminary roster debut are outside hitters Thomas Jaeschke (Wheaton, Ill.) and Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.), both of whom are currently still playing for their colleges. Jaeschke is a junior at Loyola of Chicago and Russell is a senior at Penn State. Opposite Will Price (Laytonsville, Md.) and middle blocker Dan McDonnell (Glendale, Ariz.) are also on the preliminary roster for the first time.

The U.S. Men are also happy to have three-time Olympian and 2008 gold medalist Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) back on the roster at outside hitter and as team captain. Priddy spent most of 2014-15 recovering from a torn ACL he suffered during the first weekend of the 2014 World League.

Also returning to the roster from the team that won the 2014 World League Final Round are outside hitter Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who was named the 2014 World League MVP, and opposite Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), the three-time USAV Men's Indoor Athlete of the Year. The other players returning from the 2014 Final Round roster are two-time Olympian and gold medalist David Lee (Alpine, Calif.), Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.), Kawika Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii), Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii), Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.), Carson Clark (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio), Garrett Muagututia (Oceanside, Calif.) and Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii)

The U.S. Men, ranked No. 5 in the world, begin World League pool play against Iran on May 30-31 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. They will play 2012 Olympic champion Russia on June 5-6 at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif., and will face 2014 World Champion Poland on June 12-13 at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

U.S. Preliminary Roster for the 2015 FIVB World League

No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (OH/OPP, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2. Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State)
3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
5. Ryan Ammerman (S, 6-9, Denver, Colo., UC Irvine)
6. Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
8. Reid Priddy (OH, 6-4, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
9. Murphy Troy (Opp, 6-8, St. Louis, Mo., Southern California)
10. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
12. Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
13. Futi Tavana (MB, 6-7, Kalaheo, Hawaii, BYU)
14. T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-3, Huntington Beach, Calif., Huntington Beach HS)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
16. Jayson Jablonsky (OH, 6-5, Yorba Linda, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
19. Alfee Reft (L, 5-10, Oxnard, Calif., Hawaii)
20. 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)
23. Will Price (Opp, 6-6, Laytonsville, Md., Penn State)
24. Dan McDonnell (MB, 6-6, Glendale, Ariz., UC Irvine)
25. Graham McIlvaine (S, 6-6, Hinsdale, Ill., Ball State)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Manager: Andrea Becker 
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock