USA Men Clinch 2020 Olympic Berth

Heading into the Tokyo Qualification Tournament, the No. 2 world-ranked USA men’s national team was a heavy favorite in Pool B, which also included No. 12 Belgium, No. 15 Netherlands, and No. 24 Korea. 

And with three back-to-back victories, the team lived up to the hype, earning a spot in the 2020 Olympics. 

“It is not easy playing three matches in a row, especially when you’re the favorite,” USA head coach John Speraw said. “It is always difficult to go out and play against teams that have nothing to lose. I think we handled that stress really well. We were poised and competed incredibly hard and played a great collective team game.”

On Friday night, the USA defeated Belgium 25-20, 25-19, 17-25, 25-18, then on Saturday, the U.S. men took down Korea in straight sets 25-20, 25-21, 25-16. Finally, on Sunday, they locked in the Olympic berth with a 25-18, 25-20, 17-25, 25-21 victory over the Netherlands. 

The first two nights, outside hitter Aaron Russell, who missed much of the Volleyball Nations League tournament earlier this summer while dealing with a knee injury, lead the team on offense, scoring match-high 19 points versus Belgium and 11 against Korea. He had 18 in the Netherlands match, but Matt Anderson topped his total by one point, leading the USA with 19.

“It was a tough tournament, but I’m really happy with how we all played,” Anderson said. “Aaron coming back and playing lights out for almost every part of every match and guys stepping in off the bench taking the place of Taylor Sander right now—it’s a great team effort all week.”

Sander, the team’s captain, didn’t play in any of the three matches this week in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Instead, Garrett Muagututia and Thomas Jaeschke shared time in the second outside hitting spot. 

By the conclusion of all six pools in the Tokyo Qualification Tournament, six teams joined Japan in securing a spot in next year’s Olympics. Along with the USA, Brazil, Italy, Poland, Russia, and Argentina earned berths.

Under Armour All-American Profile: Sophie Fischer

Among the 24 elite high school volleyball players named to the 2019 Under Armour First Team All-America list, only one has not made a decision on where she will attend college next fall. 

Under Armour All-American Profile: Annie Cate Fitzpatrick

The 2019 Under Armour First Team High School All-America list features quite a few state champions. Among them is Annie Cate Fitzpatrick, an outside hitter from Ocala, Florida.

Under Armour All-American Profile: Paige Flickinger

Throughout her volleyball career, Paige Flickinger has been told that she’s not tall enough to compete at the highest levels as a hitter. And yet, time after time, the Trophy City, Texas, native has proven those naysayers wrong. 

Under Armour All-American Profile: Birdie Hendrickson

It’s not uncommon to find ties to elite athletics in the family trees of top volleyball players, and Camille “Birdie” Hendrickson has athletes on all sides of the family. Her mother Laura (nee Dixon) played volleyball at Florida, father Michael was a professional triathlete, and grandfather Brien ran track at Nebraska. Her older sister Hanna sets for Division II Western Colorado, and younger brother Landon, a member of the Class of 2021 will almost certainly run distance in college.

Under Armour All-American Profile: Nalani Iosia

It’s not easy to garner national recognition as a libero. Only two high school liberos made the cut for the 2019 Under Armour All-America first team list. 

Under Armour All-American Profile: Taylor Landfair

Two and a half years ago, the FloVolleyball team spotted then-15-year-old Taylor Landfair at a tournament hosted by her club Sports Performance. 

Under Armour All-American Profile: Emily Londot

Emily Londot has been an elite-level volleyball player for quite some time now. Afterall, the 6-3 versatile attacker committed to Ohio State way back in 2016. 

Under Armour All-American Profile: Anna DeBeer

In an interview with Catholic Sports Net earlier this year, Assumption High School outside hitter Anna DeBeer named Mikaela Foecke as her favorite player.

Under Armour All-American Profile: Naomi Cabello

Since the departure of Chloe Collins following the 2016 season, Texas has seen plenty of shuffling at the setter position. Ashley Shook took over the reigns in 2017 and started for most of 2018 too, before losing her spot to then-freshman Jhenna Gabriel, who remains the starter for the Longhorns as they work their way through the 2019 NCAA Tournament. 

Under Armour All-American Profile: Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford spent most of her formative years in Liberty, Missouri, but recently moved just across the border to Lansing, Kansas, which means her family will have an even easier time coming to watch her play at the University of Kansas next fall.