U.S. Men Beat Bulgaria; Improve to 2-0 in VNL

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | May 26, 2018, 7:08 a.m. (ET)
Taylor Sander gets his hands on the ball as part of a triple block
Taylor Sander gets a hand on the ball as part of a triple block with Max Holt and Ben Patch.
 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 26, 2018) – The U.S. Men’s National Team improved to 2-0 in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League with a 25-19, 22-25, 25-19, 25-20 win over Bulgaria on Saturday in Ningbo, China.

The U.S. Men will conclude the first round of VNL pool play at 4:30 a.m. PT on Sunday against host China. The FIVB has chosen FloVolley.tv to live stream the matches.

The U.S. serving got stronger and stronger through the match. The U.S. led Bulgaria in aces 9-3 and had several serves that drew the Europeans out of system.

“Our serving wasn’t going well in the beginning,” U.S. libero Erik Shoji said. “Our coach wanted us to step that up.”

Outside hitter Taylor Sander led the United States with 19 points on 15 kills, two blocks and two aces. Outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke added 16 points on 14 kills and two aces.

Middle blocker Max Holt, making his first VNL start, finished with three aces and setter Kawika Shoji scored on two aces.

Middle blocker Jeff Jendryk finished with four blocks to lead all players. The U.S. led Bulgaria in blocks (7-6) and kills (52-46).

The U.S. Men are in China without usual starters Matt Anderson, Aaron Russell and Micah Christenson, all of whom are on the preliminary roster, but had late finishes to their club seasons.

The U.S. was in command of the fourth set at 18-12 when Bulgaria’s Svetoslav Gotsev scored with a kill and Todor Skrimov took the serve. He served for an ace and then three more points to pull Bulgaria to within one. Jaeschke was called for a double touch on the next play, but the U.S. challenge and the referee called for a replay. Skrimov served into the net to preserve the U.S. lead at 19-17 and it went on to win.

U.S. STARTERS VS BULGARIA
Outside hitters: Taylor Sander and Thomas Jaeschke
Middle blockers: Max Holt and Jeff Jendryk
Opposite: Ben Patch
Setter: Kawika Shoji
Libero: Erik Shoji

U.S. SCORING VS. ARGENTINA
Kills: Sander 15, Jaeschke 14, Holt 9, Patch 9, Jendryk 4, K Shoji 2
Blocks: Jendryk 4, Sander 2, Patch 1
Aces: Holt 3, K Shoji 2, Jaeschke 2, Sander 2

2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League

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

3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
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)
12. Max Holt (MB, 6-10, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
13. Ben Patch (Opp, 6-8, Provo, Utah, BYU)
17. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola)
18. Jake Langlois (OH, 6-10, San Jose, Calif., BYU)
19. Taylor Averill (MB, 6-7, San Jose, Calif., Hawaii)
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)
23. Jonah Seif (S, 6-6, Thousand Oaks, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
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
Team Doctor: William Stetson 

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 at 4:30 a.m.: China vs USA

At Goiânia, Brazil
June 1 at 8:15 a.m.: Japan vs USA
June 2 at 7:10 a.m.: Korea vs USA
June 3 at 8:40 a.m.: Brazil vs USA

At Ottawa, Canada
June 8 at 1:40 p.m.: Germany vs USA
June 9 at 1:10 p.m.: USA vs Australia
June 10 at 1:10 p.m.: Canada vs USA

At Hoffman Estates, Ill., USA - GET TICKETS
June 15 at 5:30 p.m.: USA  vs. Serbia
June 16 at 5:30 p.m.: USA vs. Poland
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

-17: Serbia, Poland, Iran – TICKETS in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
June 22-24: Italy, Russia, France in Italy