U.S. Men Fight Losing Battle against Russia

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | June 23, 2018, 1:50 p.m. (ET)
The U.S. Men put hands in before the match
The U.S. Men put hands in during their match against Russia.
 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 23, 2018) – After securing a spot in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League Final Six, U.S. Head Coach John Speraw gave most of his starters a rest against Russia on Saturday. 

The U.S. Men had opportunities to take the first and third sets, but fell to Russia, 25-23, 25-15, 25-23 in Modena, Italy.

The United States (10-4) will close out VNL preliminary play on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. PT against an Italian team (8-6) that is fighting for the final slot in the Final Round. The U.S. is in fourth place in the standings.

Russia (11-3) leads the VNL standings.

The U.S. Men led the third set 21-19 when outside hitter Jake Langlois was injured on a block attempt. Brenden Sander, making his debut with the national team, replaced him and opposite Kyle Ensing scored on a kill. At 22-20, Russia’s Dmitry Volkov got a kill, then took the serve and scored on an ace.

Volkov served until Russia reached match point at 24-22 then served out of bounds. Egor Kliuka won the match with a kill.

Russia dominated from the service line, leading in aces, 13-4. Russia led in kills (40-38) while the U.S. led in blocks (4-3).

Ensing paced the U.S. scoring with 15 points on 12 kills, two aces and one block. Langlois added 10 points on nine kills and one ace. Outside hitter T.J. DeFalco totaled eight points on seven kills and one ace while middle blocker Max Holt added seven points on five kills and two blocks.

Middle blocker Jeff Jendryk scored five points on four kills and one block. Setter Kawika Shoji scored on a kill and set the team to a 55.1 kill percentage.

The first set stayed close with Russia taking a two-point led at 18-16. The U.S. seemed to tie it at 22-22 when Russia hit the ball out. But a challenge showed the U.S. had touched the net on the block and Russia instead got a 23-21 lead, which it road to the win.

U.S. STARTERS VS RUSSIA
Outside HItters: T.J. DeFalco and Jake Langlois
Middle Blockers: Jeff Jendryk and Max Holt
Setter: Kawika Shoji
Opposite: Kyle Ensing
Libero: Dustin Watten
Substitute: Brenden Sander (outside hitter)

U.S. STATISTICS VS RUSSIA
Kills: Ensing 12, Langlois 9, DeFalco 7, Holt 5, Jendryk 4, Shoji 1
Blocks: Holt 2, Jendryk 1, Ensing 1
Aces: Ensing 2, Langlois 1, DeFalco 1

U.S. Men’s 14-Man Travel Roster for Modena, Italy

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)
15. Brenden Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
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 
June 15: USA  def Serbia, 25-22, 25-16, 25-14
June 16: USA def Poland, 25-20, 25-19, 25-19
June 17: USA def Iran, 29-27, 25-20, 26-24

At Modena, Italy
June 22: France def USA, 25-21, 23-25, 26-28, 25-20, 15-12
June 23: Russia def USA 25-23, 25-15, 25-23
June 24 at 11:30 a.m.: Italy vs USA

Final Round: July 4-8 in Lille, France