U.S. Men Run into Olympic Champions at 2024 VNL

May 24, 2024.-  The U.S. Men’s National Team fell to France 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-21) in Volleyball Nations League preliminary play on Friday in Antalya, Türkiye.

The U.S. Men (0-2) will play Bulgaria (0-2) on Saturday at 10 a.m. PT.

Volleyball Nations League 2024: schedule and results

The U.S. Men have run into two tough opponents in Poland (reigning VNL champions) and France (reigning Olympic champions) in the opening week of VNL. While France did have some new faces on the court, they were still led by some familiar ones from the Tokyo Olympic Games roster. Outside hitter Yacine Louati was the top scorer for France with 13 points on 10 kills, two blocks and one ace. Outside hitter Kevin Tillie added eight points on seven kills and one block.

U.S. outside hitter Jordan Ewert put together another strong performance with 13 kills. He had 10 points on nine kills and one ace in his VNL debut against Poland.

“This is only our second match together,” Ewert told Volleyball World. “Our goal is obviously to win, but our main goal is to keep improving throughout the week and see what this team can do. It’s also tough with the first two matches being against Poland and France. I think we made some big improvements today as a team and also as individuals, so back to the drawing board and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

France took advantage of errors and led most of the opening set until Ewert ended a long rally with a point of the block which tied the set at 22-22. However, France immediately took back the lead and never looked back.

Despite cleaning up their errors and leading at times in the final two sets, the U.S. Men couldn’t hold off France to avoid the sweep.

Middle blocker Matthew Knigge also had another good outing with 10 points on eight kills and two aces.

Outside hitter Cody Kessel had eight points on seven kills and one block.

Opposite Gabi Garcia Fernandez had seven points or six kills and one block.

Middle blocker Michael Marshman came off the bench and added four kills.

Libero Kyle Dagostino was credited with nine digs and two successful receptions.

Setter Quinn Isaacson, outside hitter Brett Wildman and opposite Jake Hanes saw action as substitutes.