U.S. Men Pull Together to Beat Poland

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | June 16, 2018, 11 p.m. (ET)
The U.S. Men celebrate scoring a point
 Aaron Russell, David Smith, Max Holt and Micah Christenson come together to celebrate against Poland.
 

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (June 16, 2018) – As injured outside hitter Thomas Jaeshke watched from the sidelines, the U.S. Men’s National Team pulled together to beat Poland, 25-20, 25-19, 25-19 on Saturday in a Volleyball Nations League (VNL) match at Sears Centre Arena.

The U.S. Men (9-2) moved into second place in the VNL standings behind France. Poland fell to fourth (8-3). The top six teams after pool play will advance to the Final Round on July 4-8 in Lille, France.

The U.S. will finish this weekend’s matches on Sunday when it will play Iran (4-7) at 5:30 p.m. CT. Iran fell to Serbia, 3-2 on Saturday.

“I think it’s a big thing for us that we didn’t have one player who was carrying the whole load,” U.S. Team Captain David Smith said. “We had a lot of guys contribute. I think that makes it easier on each individual player and makes us more dangerous as a team.”

Jaeschke was injured during the United States’ match against Serbia on Friday. On Saturday he dressed for the match, but used crutches and had his knee wrapped.

“Thomas had a real significant knee injury,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “He’s going to be out for quite a while. We’re heartbroken for him and I know he’s been playing great volleyball and has become such a great leader on our team. It hurts us. But I’m really pleased with the way guys have stepped up when he’s been out.”

Outside hitter Aaron Russell led all scorers with 14 points on a match-high 11 kills (64.7%) and a match-high three aces. He also picked up some more passing duties to support the less-experienced T.J. DeFalco, who has been playing for Jaeschke.

“A lot of passing is based on knowing the servers,” Russell said. “T.J. and I talked about having me to take up more space (in receiving).”

Knowing the server became harder as Poland’s Head Coach Vital Heynen did a lot of substituting, trying to find the best combination for his team. As a team, the United States was credited with 47 receptions, 62 percent positive with five errors.

“Tonight, I thought our passing wasn’t as crisp (as Friday),” Speraw said. “I thought Micah Christenson did a great job of managing some of the more challenging passes; a lot of tight ones. It seemed like we sided out on almost every tight pass. That’s a credit to him.”

The United States’ hitting efficiency was .513 while Poland hit .351.

Opposite Matt Anderson scored 12 points on 10 kills, one block and one ace. Middle blocker Max Holt scored 11 points on eight kills, two blocks and one ace.

The U.S. Men led in kills (45-31) and aces (8-1). The teams were tied in blocks (5-5).

U.S. STARTERS VS POLAND
Outside Hitters: Aaron Russell and T.J. DeFalco
Middle Blockers: Max Holt and David Smith
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji

U.S. STATISTICS VS POLAND
Kills: Russell 11, Anderson 10, Holt 8, DeFalco 7, Smith 5, Christenson 4
Blocks: Holt 2, Anderson 1, DeFalco 1, Christenson 1
Aces: Russell 3, Christenson 2, Anderson 1, Holt 1, DeFalco 1

U.S. Men’s 14-Man Travel Roster for Hoffman Estates

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)
10. Dan McDonnell (MB, 6-6, Phoenix, Ariz., UC Irvine)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Hawaii, Southern California)
12. Max Holt (MB, 6-10, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
17. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola)
18. Jake Langlois (OH, 6-10, San Jose, Calif., BYU)
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)
26. Kyle Ensing (Opp, 6-7, Valencia, Calif., Long Beach State)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Manager: Andrea Becker
Assistant Coaches: Rob Neilson and Brian Thornton
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Psychologist: Andrea Becker
Team Doctor: Andrew Gregory
Consultant Coach: Greg Walker

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: USA def Japan, 23-25, 13-25, 25-18, 25-20, 15-10
June 2: USA def Korea, 25-23, 25-21, 25-11
June 3: Brazil def USA,  21-25, 20-25, 25-19, 25-20, 20-18

At Ottawa, Canada
June 8: Germany def USA, 25-19, 25-22, 25-13
June 9: USA def Australia, 20-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-17
June 10: USA def Canada, 23-25, 25-13, 25-19, 25-20

At Hoffman Estates, Ill., USA - GET TICKETS
June 15: USA  def Serbia, 25-22, 25-16, 25-14
June 16: USA def Poland, 25-20, 25-19, 25-19
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