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New Kids on the Block in Bulgaria

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans ( | June 26, 2019, 12:48 p.m. (ET)

U.S. Men's National Team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 26, 2019) – Does the U.S. Men’s National Team’s roster for its FIVB Volleyball Nations League matches in Bulgaria on June 28-30 give a glimpse of the future?

The U.S. Men (7-5) are set to play Bulgaria (10:40 a.m. PT on June 28 - live on, Serbia (7 a.m. PT on June 29 – live on the Olympic Channel) and Iran (7 a.m. PT on June 30 – live on in Plovdiv. It is the final weekend of VNL preliminary play.

Volleyball Nations League Men's Final Graphic

Olympians Matt Anderson, Max Holt, Micah Christenson, Taylor Sander, Aaron Russell, David Smith, Kawika Shoji and Erik Shoji will be in Southern California this weekend getting ready for the VNL Finals on July 10-14 at Credit Union 1 Arena in Chicago.

The lone Olympian on the roster for Bulgaria is outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke, who made his 2019 U.S. Men’s VNL debut last weekend in Hoffman Estates, Ill., after spending a year rehabbing from a torn ACL.

“We’re excited,” said U.S. Men’s Assistant Coach Rob Neilson who will be the team’s head coach in Bulgaria. “It’s a chance for us to get better and to learn and compete. It’s a chance for the young guys to get after it.”

Speaking of “young guys,” two players on the roster aren’t even on the preliminary roster of 25 for the U.S. Men. Middle blockers Price Jarman and George Huhmann were added thanks to injury exemptions. Both players competed for the Pan American Cup team that finished fifth in Colima, Mexico on June 22.

All the other players on the roster have competed in at least one other VNL match this season.

Opposite Ben Patch, who is in Bulgaria, is the U.S. Men’s leading VNL scorer (108 points on 101 kills, six blocks and one ace) and 26th overall. He is third among all attackers with a success percentage of 55.19.

Outside hitter Garrett Muagututia, who is also in Bulgaria, is 11th among all receivers with an efficiency percentage of 16.81.

Among the teams the U.S. will be playing, Iran is in second place overall with a 10-2 record. Its opposite Amir Ghafour leads the VNL in scoring. Serbia is in 11th place at 5-7 and Bulgaria is 12th at 4-8.

U.S. Men's Roster for Bulgaria

4  Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
8  T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
9  Jake Langlois (OH, 6-10, San Jose, Calif., BYU)
13  Ben Patch (Opp, 6-8, Provo, Utah, BYU)
14  Micah Ma'a (S, 6-3, Kaneohe, Hawaii, UCLA)
16  Josh Tuaniga (S, 6-3, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
17  Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola)
18  Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
19  Taylor Averill (MB, 6-7, San Jose, Calif., Hawaii)
21  Dustin Watten (L, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
24  Kyle Dagostino (L, 5-9, Tampa, Fla., Stanford)
25  Kyle Russell (Opp, 6-9, Loomis, Calif., UC Irvine)
29  Price Jarman (MB, 6-9, Las Vegas, Nev., BYU)
30  George Huhmann (MB, 6-11, St. Louis, Mo., Princeton)

Head Coach: Rob Neilson
Assistant Coaches: Dan Friend and Greg Walker
Team Manager: Nate Ngo
Physiotherapist: Peter Higbie

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
USA def Japan, 25-15, 25-19, 25-19 
Canada def USA, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 25-17
USA def China, 25-20, 25-19, 25-19

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

Related Athletes

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Taylor Averill

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TJ DeFalco

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Thomas Jaeschke

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Jeff Jendryk

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Jake Langlois

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Micah Ma'a

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Garrett Muagututia

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Ben Patch

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Kyle Russell

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Dustin Watten