CHICAGO, Ill. (July 9, 2019) – After five weekends of preliminary play, the U.S. Men’s National Team will take on some of the world’s beat teams this week in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League Finals at Credit Union 1 Arena.
The U.S. Men (9-6) open pool play on Wednesday (July 10) against France (11-4) at 7:30 p.m. CT. The will play Russia (12-3) on Friday at 8 p.m. CT. Matches will be shown live on FloVolleyball.tv. The gold medal match will be shown on the Olympic Channel.
Nine players on the U.S. roster for the Finals are 2016 Olympic and 2018 World Championship medalists: opposite Matt Anderson, outside hitters Aaron Russell, Taylor Sander and Thomas Jaeschke, setters Micah Christenson and Kawika Shoji, middle blockers Max Holt and David Smith and libero Erik Shoji.
It is the first time in 2019 that all nine have been on the same roster.
Rounding out the roster are outside hitter Garrett Muagututia, opposite Ben Patch, setter Micah Ma’a and middle blockers Jeff Jendryk and George Huhmann.
Jaeschke and Jendryk grew up in the Chicago area and played college volleyball at Loyola of Chicago.
U.S. Head Coach John Speraw is excited to see the team in action this weekend.
“I think the guys are enjoying the familiarity,” Speraw said. “But the opportunity to play some young guys and give some old guys some rest has been beneficial.
“The question is, have we had enough time to train to be as efficient as we were at the end of last summer at the World Championships?”
The United States has not designated a second libero behind Erik Shoji and Speraw said the team will do that before each match.
“We just know that Erik Shoji is one of the best liberos in the world,” Speraw said. “We evaluated some younger guys, but chose not to bring any of them at this point. That gave us some flexibility to bring in some other talent.”
The U.S. Men, ranked No. 2 in the world, finished sixth in the VNL preliminary round with 9-6 record.
The U.S. pool for the Finals includes all three teams that medaled at the 2018 VNL Finals: Russia took the gold, France the silver and the U.S. Men won bronze after beating Brazil 3-0. The other pool includes defending Olympic champion and world No. 1 ranked Brazil, defending world champion Poland and Asian champion Iran, which finished second in the preliminary round.
“I think this tournament is a great event,” Speraw said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to go out there and compete against great competition especially as we look forward to the rest of the summer and the Olympic qualification tournaments.”
U.S. Men’s Roster for VNL Finals in Chicago
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)
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)
14 Micah Ma'a (S, 6-3, Kaneohe, Hawaii, UCLA)
17 Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola)
18 Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
20 David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
22 Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
30 George Huhmann (MB, 6-11, St. Louis, Mo., Princeton)
Head Coach: John Speraw
Assistant Coaches: Rob Neilson and Brian Thornton
Consultant Coach: Mike Wall
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Schedule for VNL Finals in Chicago
4:30 p.m.: Brazil vs Poland
7:30 p.m.: USA vs France
5 p.m.: Iran vs Poland
8 p.m.: Russia vs France
5 p.m. Brazil vs Iran
8 p.m. USA vs Russia
5 p.m. Semifinal 1
8 p.m. Semifinal 2
3 p.m. Bronze medal
6 p.m. Gold medal