U.S. Men Coming Home on 4-Match Win Streak

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | June 16, 2019, 6:38 p.m. (ET)

Erik Shoji receives for the U.S. Men

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 16, 2019) – Veteran middle blockers Max Holt and David Smith came through for the U.S. Men’s National Team in myriad ways Sunday in a 23-25, 25-22, 28-26, 27-25 win over France in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League on Sunday in Cannes, France.

The win completed the United States’ 3-0 sweep of the weekend matches and improved its record to 5-4. It is in sixth place on a 4-match win streak heading into its matches on June 21-23 in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The U.S. Men are hosting the VNL Finals on July 10-14 in Chicago and will qualify no matter where they finish.

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Holt finished with 11 points on five kills, three blocks and a match-high three aces, including an ace on French outside hitter Earvin Ngapeth on match point.

“I was pumped up to play France here in Cannes and was feeling pretty good physically,” Holt said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done and got better as a team.”

Smith scored 13 points on a match-high five blocks, two aces and six kills. After having no blocks in the first set, the U.S. started picking up France’s tendencies and ended up leading in blocks 15-14.

France also struggled to control the U.S. serving.

Outside hitter Taylor Sander, who led the U.S. Men with 16 points on 14 kills and two blocks, was happy with the U.S. effort.

“We haven’t had a good weekend so far,” he said. “It was nice to come here and get three wins.

“We’re happy with the way we improved. We’re excited to go back to the USA and play in front of our fans.”

The U.S. scored 30 points on France’s errors while committing 24. The U.S. kill percentage behind setter Micah Christenson, who also had three blocks, was 43.4 while France’s was 41.

Outside hitter Garrett Muagututia scored 14 points on 13 kills and one block. Opposite Ben Patch finished with 10 points on 10 kills. Kyle Ensing substituted for Patch in the first set and started the next three sets, scoring six points on five kills and one block. Patch returned to close out the match.

U.S. STARTERS VS FRANCE
Outside hitters: Taylor Sander and Garret Muagututia
Middle blockers: Max Holt and David Smith
Opposite: Ben Patch
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji
Substitute: T.J. DeFalco (OH), Kyle Ensing (Opp)

U.S. STATISTICS VS FRANCE
Kills: Sander 14, Muagututia 13, Patch 10, Smith 6, Holt 5, Ensing 5
Blocks: Smith 5, Holt 3, Christenson 3, Sander 2, Muagututia 1, Ensing 1
Aces: Holt 3, Smith 2

U.S. Men’s Travel Roster for France

3C  Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
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)
19  Taylor Averill (MB, 6-7, San Jose, Calif., Hawaii)
20  David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
22  Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
23  Larry Tuileta (L, 6-2, Honolulu, Hawaii, Univ. of Hawaii)

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
Italy def USA, 25-23, 13-25, 25-20, 25-23
Russia def Italy, 25-22, 25-19, 25-15
USA def Portugal, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 25-17

Cannes, France
USA def Argentina, 25-22, 25-19, 21-25, 25-21
USA def Germany, 25-22, 21-25, 25-19, 25-20
USA def France, 3-25, 25-22, 28-26, 27-25

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