Meet The 12 Members Of The U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team
by Todd Kortemeier
The experienced roster announced Monday by USA Volleyball will again be led head coach John Speraw, who has been leading the program since 2013 and will be coaching in his second Olympic Games. Speraw was an assistant at the 2008 and 2012 Games. The U.S. has medaled in two of the three Games with him on the bench and will look to live up to its world No. 3 ranking in Tokyo.
“We had some really difficult decisions to make,” Speraw said to USA Volleyball in a news release. “Team USA over the last four or five years has become deeper. The discussions about whom to take on this team involved the performances during (FIVB Volleyball Nations League) as well as what these players bring as teammates and competitors.”
Here’s a closer look at the 12 competitors who will be looking to bring home hardware in Tokyo.
Matt Anderson poses at the American Sports Center on May 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Anderson is one of two athletes on the team making their third Olympic appearance, and the opposite/outside hitter is one of Team USA’s key players. Anderson, 34, has been on the national team since 2008 and been its leading scorer since 2011. He ranked second among all scorers in Rio in helping Team USA capture the bronze medal. The native of West Seneca, New York, has spent time playing professionally in China, Italy and South Korea.
Micah Christenson poses at the American Sports Center on May 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Christenson will be making his second Olympic appearance. The 28-year-old setter from Honolulu has played with the national team since 2013 and captained Team USA in 2019 to a bronze medal at the World Cup and the gold medal in the Olympic qualification tournament. Christenson has played most of his pro career in Italy before moving to Zenit-Kazan in Russia.
T.J. DeFalco celebrates at the Men's Panamerican Volleyball Cup on May 24, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico.
DeFalco is one of three athletes making his first appearance at the Olympic Games, but is a beach volleyball Youth Olympian from 2014. DeFalco has been on the U.S. men’s indoor national team since 2015, when he made his debut at the age of 18. Now 24, the outside hitter from Huntington Beach, California, won two NCAA championships with Long Beach State and plays professionally in Poland.
Kyle Ensing spikes the ball during a match.
Ensing is also a first-time Olympian and was a teammate of DeFalco’s at Long Beach State. The 24-year-old from Valencia, California, has been on the national team since 2017. An opposite, Ensing has worked his way up through the USA Volleyball pipeline since 2013, competing on youth and junior teams before making the men’s national team. He plays professionally in Israel.
Max Holt poses at the American Sports Center on May 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Holt will be making his second Olympic appearance, and was also an alternate on the 2012 Olympic team. Along with Anderson, Holt is the tallest member of the team at 6-foot-10. The middle blocker has been on the national team since 2009 after a national championship career at Penn State. The 34-year-old from Cincinnati has played professionally in Italy and Russia.
Thomas Jaeschke spikes the ball during the Men's Bronze Medal Match at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Aug. 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
Jaeschke will be making his second Olympic appearance and has been on the national team since 2015. The 27-year-old from Wheaton, Illinois, was a two-time NCAA champ at Loyola Chicago in 2014 and 2015 and was 2015 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Player of the Year. An outside hitter, Jaeschke plays professionally in Italy.
Garrett Muagututia (left) celebrates during the FIVB World Championship at Cracow Arena on Sept. 2, 2014 in Cracow, Poland.
Muagututia will be making his Olympic debut in Tokyo after being an alternate in 2016. The 33-year-old outside hitter from Oceanside, California, has been on the national team since 2011. He saw extensive national team action in 2019, competing in the World Cup, Nations League, and Olympic qualifying tournament. Muagututia has played professionally across Europe since graduating from UCLA in 2010.
Taylor Sander celebrates during the Men's Bronze Medal Match at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Aug. 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
Sander is back for a second Olympic Games after leading all receivers in receptions in Rio. A member of the national team since 2012, the outside hitter has spent time as team captain in 2018 and 2019. The 29-year-old from Huntington Beach, California, has a brother on the national team, Brenden, who is an alternate for Tokyo.
Erik Shoji reacts during the Men's Bronze Medal Match at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Aug. 1, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
Shoji will be making his second appearance at the Games. The libero finished first among diggers and second among receivers in Rio. Volleyball runs in the Shoji family, as Shoji’s father Dave is the winningest coach in Division I women’s volleyball history and his brother Kawika is also on the U.S. Olympic Team. Erik Shoji has been on the national team since 2013. The 31-year-old from Honolulu plays professionally in Poland.
Kawika Shoji celebrates a victory during the men's qualifying match at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Aug. 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
The elder Shoji brother will also be making his second Olympic appearance. Shoji, 33, has been on the national team since 2010, the same year he won a national championship at Stanford. He has since spent time playing professionally across Europe.
David Smith poses at the American Sports Center on May 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
Along with Anderson, Smith is the other member of the team making his third Olympic appearance. The middle blocker has been on the national team since 2009. Smith, 36, from Saugus, California, was 2017 USAV Male Indoor Player of the Year. Smith plays professionally in Poland.
Mitch Stahl celebrates with teammates on the US National Team.
Stahl, a middle blocker, will be making his Olympic debut in Tokyo. The 26-year-old from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, has been on the national team since 2015 when he made his debut at the Pan American Games. The UCLA alum has played professionally in France and Belgium.
Aaron Russell, Jeff Jendryk, Ben Patch, Brenden Sander, Josh Tuaniga, Taylor Averill, Dustin Watten and Kyle Russell have been named as alternates for Team USA.