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U.S. Men Go Back to Basics in World Cup Win

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans ( | Oct. 02, 2019, 5:25 a.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 2, 2019) – The U.S. Men’s National Team went back to the basics on Wednesday – serving and passing – and defeated Italy, 19-25, 25-19, 25-14, 25-19 at the FIVB World Cup in Fukuoka, Japan.

The U.S. Men (1-1) will get a rest day before their next match against Poland (1-0) on Oct. 3 at 11 p.m. PT. All World Cup matches are being broadcast in the U.S. on


A day after a tough five-set loss to Argentina, U.S. Men’s Head Coach John Speraw stuck with his same starting lineup, with the exception of middle blocker David Smith in place of Jeff Jendryk.

Italy, meanwhile, brought a different team to Japan than the one it used to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games. The U.S. started slow, but gained momentum against the young Italian squad.

“I think we stayed cool and calm,” middle blocker Max Holt said. “They played really well that first set. It took time for us to get down our game plan and figure out what they were doing. Once we did that, I think we played really well and settled in.”

The U.S. led in kills (51-34) and aces (13-3). Italy led in blocks (9-6). Italy scored 31 points on U.S. errors and committed 24.

The U.S. kill percentage was 51.5 behind setter Micah Christenson while Italy’s was 37.8.

Five U.S. starters scored in double figures.

Opposite Matt Anderson and outside hitter Aaron Russell led the U.S. with 16 points apiece. Each player had 12 kills and four aces.

Holt scored 13 points on seven kills, three blocks and three aces. Outside hitter Garrett Muagututia finished with 12 points on 11 kills and one block. Middle blocker David Smith had 10 points on eight kills and two blocks.

Setter Micah Christenson scored three points on two aces and one kill.

Libero Erik Shoji recovered nicely from Monday’s loss to Argentina and made strong plays in the back row.

Italy closed out the first set with a 5-0 run.

The second-set score was tied 5-5 when Russell served two aces in a row and Muagututia added a kill to put the U.S. up 8-5. Italy never recovered.

Leading the third set 14-12, the U.S. finished with a 11-2 scoring run, including an ace from Anderson and an apparent ace from Saeta.

The fourth set was tied 16-16 when the U.S. scored four straight points and never looked back.

Outside hitters: Aaron Russell and Garrett Muagututia
Middle blockers: Max Holt and David Smith
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji
Substitute: Michael Saeta (SS)

Kills: Anderson 12, Russell 12, Muagututia 11, Smith 8, Holt 7, Christenson 1
Blocks: Holt 3, Smith 2, Muagututia 1
Aces: Anderson 4, Russell 4, Holt 3, Christenson 2 


No. Name (Pos, Height, Hometown, College)
1  Matt Anderson (Opp, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2  Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State)
4  Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
Michael Saeta (SS, 6-5, South Pasadena, Calif., UC Irvine)
11 C  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)
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)
20  David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
22  Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Assistant Coaches: Rob Neilson and Brian Thornton
Consultant Coach: Mike Wall
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Doctor: Andrew Gregory
Sports Psychologist: Bernard Whitney
Trainer: Tim Pelot

U.S. Schedule for the 2019 World Cup
(All times PT)

Sept. 30: Argentina def USA vs Argentina, 25-21, 25-20, 19-25, 21-25, 15-12
Oct. 2: USA def Italy, 19-25, 25-19, 25-14, 25-19
Oct. 3 at 11 p.m. USA vs Poland
Oct. 5 at 3:20 a.m. Japan vs USA
Oct. 5 at 11 p.m. USA vs Tunisia
Oct. 9 at 2 a.m. USA vs Iran
Oct. 10 at 2 a.m. USA vs Brazil
Oct. 11 at 2 a.m. USA vs Canada
Oct. 12 at 10 p.m. USA vs Australia
Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. USA vs Russia
Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. USA vs Egypt

Related Athletes

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Matt Anderson

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Micah Christenson

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Max Holt

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Garrett Muagututia

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Aaron Russell

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Erik Shoji

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David Smith