U.S. Men Ready to Take on Worlds

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | Sept. 11, 2018, 8:26 p.m. (ET)

The U.S. Men celebrate a point during the VNL Final Round

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 10, 2018) – The biggest tournament in international volleyball only comes around every four years.

No, we are not talking about the Olympic Games.

The biggest tournament in international volleyball is the FIVB World Championships where 24 teams compete over three weeks, assuming they make it through nine preliminary matches to make it to the final round.

The U.S. Men’s National Team, ranked No. 2 in the world, begins 2018 World Championship competition on Wednesday in Bari, Italy when it will play Serbia at 11:30 a.m. PT. All men’s World Championship matches will be shown live on FloVolleyball.tv, which has reduced the subscription price 20 percent for the event.

“The World Championship is one of those tournaments where you need to be all-in every game,” said U.S. middle blocker Max Holt, who has been a member of the last two World Championship teams. “You have to find a way to stay focused and treat every match with great importance.”

In 2010, the U.S. made it to the final round where it finished sixth. In 2014, the same year it won the FIVB World League title, it didn’t qualify for the final round and tied for seventh.

U.S. Head Coach John Speraw, who was in his second year in 2014, said he learned a lot from that experience.

“I’ve thought about that quite a bit,” Speraw said. “It was a disappointing end to what could have been a great tournament.”

The U.S. Men went 3-2 in pool play to open the 2014 World Championship, losing to Iran and France and needing five sets to beat Belgium. The made it to the next round where they beat host Poland, Serbia and Australia. But a 3-2 loss to Argentina in front of a large Polish crowd wanting to avenge their team’s loss, sent the U.S. Men home early.

“it will be key for us to start strong,” middle blocker David Smith said. “I think with the experience and the depth that we have, we’re in a better place on paper, but it all comes down to how we perform on the court.”

Libero Erik Shoji, who also played on the 2014 team for Worlds, said his team’s greatest strength in 2018 is its camaraderie.

“We have a great group of guys who love playing together,” he said. “That’s helpful in tough matches.”

The U.S. Men go into the World Championship with a 16-6 record after finishing third in the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League and winning all three matches at the pre-Worlds Ljubljana Volleyball Challenge.

The U.S. Men won the World Championship in 1986 and finished third in 1994.

2018 FIVB World Championship

U.S. Men’s Roster
1. Matt Anderson (Opp, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2. Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State)
3C. 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)
10. Dan McDonnell (MB, 6-6, Phoenix, Ariz., UC Irvine)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
12. Max Holt (MB, 6-10, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
13. Ben Patch (Opp, 6-8, Provo, Utah, BYU)
18. Jake Langlois (OH, 6-10, San Jose, Calif., BYU)
19. Taylor Averill (MB, 6-7, San Jose, 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)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Assistant Coaches: Rob Neilson and Brian Thornton
Team Manager: Nate Ngo
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Team Psychologist: Andrea Becker
Team Doctors: Andrew Gregory and David Dyck
Scout Coach: Jon Parry
Consultant Coach: Mike Wall
Strength Coach: Tim Pelot 

U.S. Men’s World Championship Pool Play Schedule
Bari, Italy
All matches will be shown on Flovolleyball.tv
(All times PT)

Sept. 12 at 11:30 a.m.: Serbia
Sept. 13 at 8 a.m.: Australia
Sept. 15 at 11:30 a.m.: Russia
Sept. 16 at 8 a.m.: Cameroon
Sept. 18 at 8 a.m.: Tunisia