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U.S. Men Have Sights Set on NORCECA Podium

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | Sept. 25, 2017, 11 p.m. (ET)

Micah Christenson, Matt Anderson and David Smith wait for the serve

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 25, 2017) – The U.S. Men’s National Team will be playing for the top spot on the podium this week at the NORCECA Continental Championship on Sept. 26-Oct. 1 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

The top three tournament finishers will qualify for the 2018 FIVB World Championship. Matches are free and open to the public. They will alson be broadcast in the United States at http://bit.ly/17NORCECA.

The team is hungry for some hardware after finishing fourth at both the FIVB World League and the FIVB Grand Champions Cup.

“We want to see if we can get on the podium and hopefully win our zone,” Head Coach John Speraw said. “Obviously the goal is to qualify for the World Championship, but we would like to do a little more and finish at the top.”

Originally, a total of 12 teams were supposed to compete at NORCECA, but Cuba and Puerto Rico were unable to attend for weather-related issues

The U.S. Men are the top-ranked team in NORCECA and No. 2 in the FIVB world rankings. Right behind them is Canada, ranked No. 2 by NORCECA. Canada has defeated the United States three out of the last four times they have played each other. Mexico and Dominican Republic are the next-highest ranked teams.

The U.S. Men bring in nine players who won bronze medals at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro: opposite Matt Anderson, outside hitters Taylor Sander, Aaron Russell and Thomas Jaeschke, middle blockers Max Holt and David Smith, setters Micah Christenson and Kawika Shoji and libero Erik Shoji.

Also on the roster are opposites Ben Patch and Carson Clark, libero Dustin Watten and middle blockers Dan McDonnell and Mitch Stahl. McDonnell and Stahl are the only two on the team who didn’t compete at the FIVB Grand Champions Cup.

“Because this is the last tournament of the year and Mitch has been playing really well and Dan has been with us for a while, we need to look at them,” Speraw said. “We want to see how they looked on the court and with this group and how that changed the dynamic and what skill set they could bring to make us better.”

FIVB World Grand Champions Cup
U.S. Men’s Roster

1. Matt Anderson (Opp, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2. Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State)
3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. Mitch Stahl (MB, 6-8, Chambersburg, Pa., UCLA)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
10. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
13. Dan McDonnell (MB, 6-6. Glendale, Ariz., UC Irvine)
14. Ben Patch (Opp, 6-8, Provo, Utah, BYU)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-10, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
20C. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine
21. Dustin Watten (L, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Manager Nate Ngo
Assistant Coaches: Rob Neilson and Brian Thornton
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Team Doctor: Andrew Gregory
Consultant Coach: Greg Walker
Strength Coach: Tim Pelot

(All times MDT)
Sept. 26       Gym           Match
5 p.m.   SportsCenter 1   Trinidad & Tobago v St. Lucia
5 p.m.   SportsCenter 2   Costa Rica v Martinique
7 p.m.   SportsCenter 1   USA v Guatemala
7 p.m.   SportsCenter 2   Mexico  v St. Vincent
         
Sept. 27        
5 p.m.    SportsCenter 1   Canada v St. Lucia
5 p.m.   SportsCenter 2   Costa Rica v St. Vincent
7 p.m.   SportsCenter 1   Dominican Republic v Guatemala
7 p.m.   SportsCenter 2   Mexico v Martinique
         
Sept. 28        
5 p.m.    SportsCenter 1   Canada v Trinidad & Tobago
5 p.m.   SportsCenter 2   Martinique v St. Vincent
7 p.m.   SportsCenter 1   USA v Dominican Republic
7 p.m.   SportsCenter 2   Mexico v Costa Rica
         
Sept. 29        
5 p.m.    SportsCenter 1   Quarterfinal 1
5 p.m.   SportsCenter 2   Classification 7-10
7 p.m.   SportsCenter 1   Quarterfinal 2
7 p.m.   SportsCenter 2   Classification 7-10
         
Sept. 30        
3 p.m.    SportsCenter 1   Classification 5-8
3 p.m.   SportsCenter 2   Classification 9-10
5 p.m.   SportsCenter 1   Semifinal 1
5 p.m.   SportsCenter 2   Classification 5-8
7 p.m.   SportsCenter 1   Semifinal 2
         
Oct. 1        
2 p.m.    SportsCenter 2   Classification 7-8
3 p.m.   SportsCenter 1   Bronze Medal Match
4 p.m.   SportsCenter 2   Classification 5-6
5 p.m.   SportsCenter 1   Gold Medal Match