The USA men resume Volleyball Nations League play Wednesday when they take on Brazil in the quarterfinals in Bologna, Italy.
Also Wednesday, Italy plays the Netherlands, then Thursday France plays Japan and Poland plays Iran.
The semifinals are Saturday and the medal matches on Sunday. All the matches can be seen on Volleyball World TV at vb.tv.
As with the first three rounds, when the USA finished 10-2, coach John Speraw has a new roster of 14 from his pool of 25 players, but this one has few changes.
The setters are Micah Christenson and Josh Tuaniga. The outsides are Aaron Russell, TJ DeFalco, Garrett Muagututia and Cody Kessell. The opposites are Kyle Ensing, who has been the USA leader on offense this tournament, and Kyle Russell. The middles are David Smith, Jeff Jendryck, Mitch Stahl and Tyler Mitchem. The liberos are Erik Shoji and Kyle Dagostino.
“It feels good to be back in the VNL finals,” Speraw said. “We’re looking forward to the new format, playing quarters, semis and finals, hopefully.”
In the VNL, the USA opened with four victories in Brazil, including a four-set win over the home team on June 11 21-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-20. In that match, Jake Hanes, not on this roster, led with 17 kills, two blocks, an ace and seven digs. Mitchem, Jendryck and Aaron Russell had nine kills each and Dagostino led with 12 digs. Brazil’s Alan Souza had 21 kills, a block, an ace and five digs.
“Brazil always presents a challenge. They’re a great volleyball team and playing a great volleyball team is what you’d expect playing in the quarterfinals of the VNL finals,” Speraw said.
“We had a good match when we played them in Brazil a few weeks ago, but they’ll have a different lineup then what we saw so we know it will be a different type of match, hopefully with the same outcome.”
The second round was in Bulgaria and the Americans beat Serbia, got swept by Iran, beat Bulgaria in four, and lost in four to Poland.
Then in the third round in Osaka, Japan, the USA beat German in four, France in five, swept Canada and escaped Argentina in five.
“The team has trained well over the last week despite the significant travel from Japan, home for three days and then over to Europe,” Speraw said. “We’ll be ready to go on Wednesday.”
Italy, Poland and the USA tied for the most victories, 10, in the first three rounds. France and Japan had nine each, Brazil eight, Iran seven and the Netherlands six.