Tough Start for Young U.S. Squad Against Defending VNL Champs

May 22, 2024.- The U.S. Men’s National Team fell to Poland 3-0 (25-22, 25-15, 26-24) in its first match of Volleyball Nations League preliminary play on Wednesday in Antalya, Türkiye.

The U.S. Men (0-1) will look to rebound against France (1-0) on Friday at 7 a.m. PT.

Volleyball Nations League 2024: schedule and results

Led by Aleksander Śliwka (13 points), the defending VNL champions showed their experience by not faltering, even when the U.S. Men jumped out to an early lead in the first set. Poland led the U.S. in kills (40-34), blocks (6-3) and aces (8-6). Poland scored on 22 U.S. errors and committed 18.

Opposite Gabi Garcia Fernandez made his competitive debut with the U.S. Men’s National Team and led U.S. scorers with 11 points on nine kills and two aces. Outside hitter Jordan Ewert made his VNL debut and followed with 10 points on nine kills and one ace.

The U.S. Men nearly forced a fourth set after Garcia Fernandez scored from the back row tying the set at 21-21. Shortly after, libero Kyle Dagostino made an incredible play, chasing a ball behind the serve line into a sliding kick save to return the ball over to Poland’s side. However, Poland won the point bringing them to match point. Despite tying it up at 24-24, Poland eventually took the set and match.

“I think we started a little bit slower than we anticipated,” Dagostino told Volleyball World. “All of us feel like we have more to show and more to prove this week.”

Dagostino was credited with four digs and four successful receptions.

Middle blocker Matthew Knigge made his VNL debut as a starter and had six points on four kills. Middle blocker Patrick Gasman added five points on two kills, one block and two aces.

Outside hitter Cody Kessel had five points on four kills and one block. Opposite Jake Hanes had three kills.

Outside hitters Ethan Champlin and Brett Wildman, setter Quinn Isaacson and Middle blocker Michael Marshman also made their VNL debuts as substitutes.