The USA’s Garrett Muagututia attacks against Italy/Volleyball World photo

The USA men improved to 2-0 in the Volleyball Nations League with a 25-15, 25-18, 25-19 victory Thursday over Italy in Ottawa, Canada.

TJ DeFalco led a balanced attack that saw five Americans with five or more kills. DeFalco had nine kills, two blocks and four aces and had six digs. Max Holt had seven kills, two blocks and an ace.

Garrett Muagututia had seven kills and two aces, Averill Taylor had five kills, two blocks and an an ace, and Matt Anderson had six kills, six digs and an ace. 

Setter Micah Christenson, who also had a kill and a block, had the other ace as the USA held a 10-4 advantage in aces and outblocked Italy 7-1.

“Our passing has been very good and I think that has helped us play that well in these first two matches,” said Christenson, whose team hit .508. “It’s made my job a lot easier than it has to be, so all the credit to those guys. 

“Having good depth and experience are two of our main strengths right now. We can insert guys here and there and we don’t really lose a step. We can still improve technically and in terms of connections and I’m sure it will clean up as we continue.”

Libero Erik Shoji had 11 digs.

Three players had eight kills each for Italy, which fell to 0-2.

There are only four of the 16 teams left unbeaten, Poland at 3-0 and the USA, Japan and Brazil at 2-0. The Americans opened with a victory over the Netherlands on Wednesday.

“We look like a team that has put a number of veterans out on the floor,” USA coach John Speraw said. “It wasn’t clean all the time but I think the ability for us to play together in stretches of play was pretty good. That’s always a challenge early in seasons to get everybody connected, but I thought in general we were above in that category, especially as it related to other teams.

“Our serving the first night wasn’t great but got better as we got used to the arena. It was good to get Mattie Anderson on the floor and take a look at Garrett, too. We do have some depth in the middle. Showing some of our depth has been great and productive.”

While the USA has Friday off, there are three matches in Ottawa when the Netherlands plays Germany, Italy plays Cuba and Canada faces Argentina.

In Nagoya on Saturday, France plays Slovenia, Iran plays China and Japan plays Bulgaria.

The USA plays the home team, Canada, on Saturday.

“That’ll be an intensely played volleyball match because of world ranking points and all the things that come along with these inter-zone matchups,” Speraw said. “And of course playing in front of their home crowd. I’m excited to play a match that has a lot of crowd involvement that brings out our best energy.”

NETHERLANDS 3, CUBA 0: Maarten Van Garderen had 22 kills as the Dutch (1-1) won 28-26, 25-23, 25-18. Cuba is 0-2.

BRAZIL 3, ARGENTINA 2:  Brazil (2-0) rallied twice to beat its South American rival 19-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-23, 15-13. Ricardo Souza led with 15 kills and two blocks. Three of his teammates had 10 or more kills. Bruno Lima had 18 kills for Argentina (1-1).

FRANCE 3, CHINA 1: Former UC Irvine standout Kevin Tillie had 16 kills and an ace in a 25-20, 23-25, 25-16, 25-17 win for France (1-1). Timothee Carle had 14 kills, two blocks and three aces. China (1-2) got 14 kills from Chuan Jiang.

POLAND 3, BULGARIA 2: Poland had to battle but improved to 3-0 with its 25-27, 25-19, 22-25, 25-22, 15-11 victory. Artur Szalpuk had 16 kills, a block and two aces. Bulgaria (1-2) got 14 kills from Martin Atanasov.

JAPAN 3, SERBIA 1: Japan (2-0) got 22 kills from Yuji Nishida, 15 from Yuki Ishikawa and 13 from Ran Takahashi and won 22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-20. Serbia’s Pavle Peric and Drazen Luburic had 17 kills each. Serbia is 1-2.

The USA’s Taylor Averill watches his shot get past Italy’s Leandro Mosca/Volleyball World photo

Check out VNL match times and TV listingsAll VNL matches can be watched on VolleyballWorld.TV.  Use the promo code VOLLEYBALLMAG for a discount on monthly or annual subscriptions. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here