The USA men lost the first set, rallied to win the second, and came away with a 21-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-20 victory Saturday over Brazil to end the first round of Volleyball Nations League play.

It left the USA 4-0 after its time in Brasilia, Brazil. The team headed back for Anaheim where it will train for a week before going to Sofia, Bulgaria for matches starting June 22 against Serbia, Iran, Bulgaria and Poland.

Not only did the Americans knock off the top-ranked team in the world, they were led by some new names, including Tyler Mitchem, not long removed from his Lewis college season.

Jake Hanes, the Ohio State product who had been in the mix in two of the previous three matches, led with 17 kills, two blocks, an ace and seven digs. 

Mitchem, a graduate student for the Flyers this season, had nine kills, two blocks, two aces and five digs.

Jeff Jendryk also had nine kills and two blocks and a dig.

Another new starter, Cody Kessell, made the most of his first USA start with nine kills, an ace and seven digs.

Veteran Olympian Aaron Russell had nine kills, an ace and seven digs. 

“This was huge! You could see that there were some nerves and a little bit of tiredness in the first set, but I am just proud of the way we battled,” Russell told Volleyball World. “It’s all about making your best touch on every ball and I think even the guys who came in were able to do that.”

Kyle Dagostino had 12 digs and an assist. Josh Tuaniga, who had three kills and two blocks, had 42 assists and James Shaw seven. The USA hit .374.

A happy USA team after beating Brazil/Volleyball World photo

“Tonight, I had to play some of my younger players,” USA coach John Speraw told USA Volleyball. “Cody Kessel isn’t young but hasn’t played very much for us. Tyler Mitchem and Jake Hanes haven’t played very much for us. For us to be 4-0 and to beat Brazil in Brazil is a really successful start to the tournament.”

Alan Souza led Brazil with 21 kills, an ace and a block. Rodrigo Leao had 10 kills, a block and two aces. 

Elsewhere in Brasilia on Saturday, Slovenia beat China 3-1 and Iran did the same to Australia. In VNL matches in Ottawa, Germany had to go five to beat Serbia, Poland swept Bulgaria and Italy swept Canada.

The first round concludes Sunday. In Brasilia, China faces Brazil, Iran plays Japan and the Netherlands play Australia. In Ottawa, France plays Poland, Argentina plays Italy and Bulgaria plays Canada. 

The USA focus now switches back to the women. Play begins Tuesday in both Brasilia and Quezon City, Philippines, where the Americans face Bulgaria on Wednesday.

Aaron Russell, middle, and and Cody Kessell look on as Kyle Dagostino passes against Brazil/Volleyball World photo


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