Wednesday, 22 May 2024

College Standouts Shine on the International Stage against Brazil at VNL

On May 31, three college standouts from the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team found themselves starting for the U.S. Men’s National Team in their opening match against world No. 1 Brazil at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League in Katowice, Poland. Despite the tough competition, T.J. DeFalco, Kyle Ensing, and Josh Tuaniga showed promise and potential.

The U.S. Men fought hard but ultimately lost to Brazil in straight sets. However, this experience serves as a valuable learning opportunity for these young players who are still adapting to the international level of play.

Challenging Competitors: Brazil Sweeps the U.S. Men

Brazil proved to be a formidable opponent, sweeping the U.S. Men with a score of 25-22, 25-22, 25-23. The U.S. team showed some areas of weakness, but Head Coach John Speraw remains optimistic and encourages his players to improve and compete at a higher level.

Speraw noted that the team’s serving was strong and put pressure on Brazil, but their transition game was lacking. These are areas that the team will work on to enhance their performance in future matches.

A Mix of Experience and Debut Performances

While DeFalco and Ensing have previously played for the U.S. Men’s National Team, this tournament marked Tuaniga’s debut, along with Kyle Russell and Micah Ma’a. Additionally, middle blocker Mitch Stahl made his VNL debut.

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DeFalco showcased his skills, leading the U.S. Men in scoring with 11 kills and two aces. Taylor Sander, an Olympian, contributed 11 points on 11 kills, and Ensing displayed his prowess with 10 points on eight kills and two blocks. Stahl also made an impact with nine points on five kills, three blocks, and one ace.

Learning from the Experience

The U.S. Men’s team acknowledges that nerves may have played a role in their performance, considering the number of debutants. However, they remain determined to learn from their experiences and improve as the tournament progresses. They understand that this is just the beginning and that they have ample room for growth and development.

Statistics and Areas for Improvement

The U.S. Men outperformed Brazil in terms of kills and aces, but both teams had an equal number of blocks. Unfortunately, the U.S. team committed more scoring errors, which proved costly in their pursuit of victory. Brazil’s Ricardo Lucarelli emerged as the leading scorer with 14 points on 14 kills.

Despite the loss, the U.S. Men remain motivated and eager to face their next challenge. On Saturday, they will go up against defending World Champion Poland. The team continues to work on their transitional play and aims to deliver a more refined performance in the upcoming matches.


Q: Who were the standout players for the U.S. Men’s National Team against Brazil?
A: T.J. DeFalco demonstrated his skills as the leading scorer with 11 kills and two aces. Taylor Sander and Kyle Ensing also made significant contributions to the team’s performance.

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Q: Will the U.S. Men’s team improve as the tournament progresses?
A: Yes, the team acknowledges that nerves may have affected their first match but remains confident in their ability to grow and develop as the tournament continues.

Q: What areas does the U.S. Men’s team need to work on?
A: Improving their transitional play and reducing scoring errors are two areas the U.S. team aims to address for future matches.


The U.S. Men’s National Team, featuring college standouts T.J. DeFalco, Kyle Ensing, and Josh Tuaniga, faced a tough challenge against Brazil at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League. Although they didn’t secure a victory, the match provided valuable experience and highlighted areas for improvement. The team remains determined to learn from this experience and perform better in upcoming matches. With standout performances from DeFalco, Sander, and Ensing, the U.S. Men showcased their potential for success. The team continues to work on their transitional play and anticipates a more refined performance as the tournament progresses.