Christenson, Holt Return to U.S. for VNL in Russia

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | June 06, 2019, 3:37 p.m. (ET)

Max Holt attacks against France with Micah Christenson and Taylor Sander

Micah Christenson, left, and Max Holt, middle, will join Taylor Sander, right, and the rest of the U.S. Men's Team in Russia

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 5, 2019) – Olympic medalists Max Holt and Micah Christenson join the U.S. Men’s National Team for its second weekend of FIVB Volleyball Nations League play on June 7-9 in Ufa, Russia.

The U.S. Men will play Italy (2-1) on Friday (4 a.m. PT), Russia (2-1) on Saturday (7 a.m. PT) and Portugal (1-2) on Sunday (4 a.m. PT). All matches will be shown live on FloVolleyball.tv, a subscription service. 

BUY VNL TIX FOR HOFFMAN ESTATES | BUY TIX FOR VNL FINAL

The U.S. Men will host the VNL Finals on July 10-14 in Chicago. That means they qualify automatically for the Finals and they can be a little creative with the roster during the preliminary rounds.

“I think this first tournament is always really exciting,” Holt said. “Hosting the finals is huge for us. We have the luxury of mixing some guys in and out, which we’ve never really had.”

Christenson is also looking forward to playing with the U.S. Men in Ufa.

“We’ve got a lot of new faces to the international scene,” Christenson said. “It’s going to be fun allowing the opportunity for some other guys to get some playing time along with our regular group.”

Also making their 2019 VNL debuts in Russia are opposite Ben Patch and libero Kyle Dagostino, who is also making his U.S. Men's National Team debut.

After losses to Brazil and Poland in Week 1, the U.S. Men ended with a 3-1 victory over Australia.

Head Coach John Speraw was pleased with the way his team battled.

“The weekend was obviously great,” Speraw said following the Australia match. “We put a number of new players on the court. We competed really well (against Poland). A couple of points here and there and it could have been a different result.”

Outside hitter T.J. DeFalco, who did not play against Australia, is leading the U.S. in scoring after the first three matches and is 19th among all VNL players with 33 points on 28 kills, one block and four aces. Outside hitter Taylor Sander, who did not play against Poland, follows him with 30 points on 27 kills, two blocks and one ace.

Middle blocker Mitch Stahl leads all VNL players in blocks with 10 (.83 per set).

U.S. Men’s Travel Roster for Russia

3C  Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4  Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
5  Kyle Ensing (Opp, 6-7, Valencia, Calif., Long Beach State)
6  Mitch Stahl (MB, 6-8, Chambersburg, Pa., UCLA)
7  Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
8  T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
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)
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)
24  Kyle Dagostino (L, 5-9, Tampa, Fla., Stanford)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Assistant Coaches: Rob Neilson and Brian Thornton
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock

2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League
U.S. Men’s Schedule (all times PT)

Katowice, Poland
Brazil def USA, 25-22, 25-22, 25-23
Poland def USA, 17-25, 34-32, 26-28, 25-23, 15-9 
USA def Australia, 19-25, 27-25, 25-16, 25-16

Ufa, Russia
June 7 at 4 a.m.: USA v Italy
June 8 at 7 a.m.: USA v Russia
June 9 at 4 a.m.: USA v Portugal

Cannes, France
June 14 at 8 a.m.: USA v Argentina
June 15 at 8 a.m.: USA v Germany
June 16 at 8 a.m.: USA v France

Hoffman Estates, Illinois, USA
June 21 at 6 p.m.: USA v Japan
June 22 at 5:30 p.m.: USA v Canada
June 23 at 2:30 p.m.: USA v China

Plovdiv, Bulgaria
June 28 at 10:40 a.m.: USA v Bulgaria
June 29 at 7 a.m.: USA v Serbia
June 30 at 7 a.m.: USA v Iran