LONG BEACH, Calif. — Thomas Jaeschke and Reid Priddy, both bouncing back from injuries, made strong showings on Wednesday as the U.S. National Team beat Japan, 25-18, 25-21, 25-21 in the USAV Cup at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach.
The U.S. men split the two-match friendly series and will return to training until June 2, when they will travel to Cuba for friendly matches on June 4 and 6.
American players used the matches to work their way back from their overseas club teams and also to start making their cases for a spot on the roster for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Priddy, a three-time Olympian and 2008 gold medalist, ruptured his ACL during a World League match early in the 2014 season. He returned to play in an intra-squad scrimmage at the start of 2015, only to injure himself again. He did a stint at libero for the World League squad early in 2015 before focusing full time on rehabilitation. Priddy played for an Italian professional team at the start of 2016 before returning to the U.S.
He finished Wednesday’s match with nine points on nine kills and was also credited with 16 receptions, 69 percent positive.
“I feel like the last two years, for me personally, have been working toward this moment,” Priddy said. “I don’t have any more things I have to do. I just get to work hard on this team with these guys. It’s really exciting.”
Jaeschke, the former Loyola NCAA champion who left school a year early to turn pro after the 2015 title, had a promising 2015 season with the U.S. men, only to injure himself during the USAV Cup friendly series against Brazil. He traveled with the team to the 2015 FIVB World Cup in Japan, but did not play. He spent the winter playing professionally in Poland.
“It’s just so good to be back in the gym with the guys and see all the fire everyone’s got right now,” Jaeschke said. “It’s great to be around all that again. It lights a fire under everyone, including me.”
Jaeschke led all scorers with 13 points on 10 kills and three blocks. He was credited with 15 receptions, 73 percent positive.
“I really wanted to work on my float serves and passing,” Jaeschke said. “I thought I had really good float serves. That’s something I need to work on. I struggled a little at the beginning, but I really locked it down later.”
John Speraw was also back with the USA as head coach after finishing his time with the UCLA men’s volleyball team at the NCAA championship. The Bruins lost in the national semifinals to eventual champion Ohio State.
“I like the energy and enthusiasm,” Speraw said. “Guys were having fun out there. I thought they played really well together as a group.”
Japan was led by Yuki Ishikawa, who finished with 10 points on nine kills and one block. The U.S. block came up big with David Smith adding three and Matt Anderson and Dan McDonnell each with two. The U.S.led 11-2 in blocking and 39-29 in kills (39-29). Each team had two aces.
The U.S. Men will compete again domestically in the World League in Dallas, TX July 1-3 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Tickets can be purchased at: https://www.dallassportsfestival.com/tickets/
Video of the first match at the Galen Center can be seen here: https://www.teamusa.org/usa-
Wednesday’s U.S. Starters
Outside hitter: Reid Priddy and Thomas Jaeschke
Middle blocker: David Smith and Dan McDonnell
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Kawika Shoji
Libero: Erik Shoji
Kills: Jaeschke 10, Priddy 9, Anderson 8, Troy 5, Smith 5, McDonnell 2
Blocks: Jaeschke 3, Smith 3, McDonnell 2, Anderson 2, Averill 1
Aces: K Shoji 1, Smith 1
1 Matt Anderson (Opp, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
7 Kawika Shoji (S, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
8 Reid Priddy (OH, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
9 Murphy Troy (Opp, St. Louis, Mo., USC)
10 Thomas Jaeschke (OH, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola)
12 Kris Johnson (MB, Long Beach, Calif., Cal Baptist)
16 Jayson Jablonsky (OH, Yorba Linda, Calif., UC Irvine)
18 Garrett Muagututia (OH, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
19 Taylor Averill (MB, San Jose, Calif., Hawaii)
20 David Smith (MB, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
21 Dustin Watten (L, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
22 Erik Shoji (L, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
25 Dan McDonnell (MB, Glendale, Ariz., UC Irvine)
27 Jonah Seif (S, Thousand Oaks, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
Head Coach: John Speraw
Assistant Coach: Matt Fuerbringer
Assistant Coach: Mike Wall
Consultant Coach: Andrea Becker
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo