Team USA faces 'mountain to climb' as VNL unfolds in Manila

Team USA has ‘mountain to climb’ as VNL unfolds in Manila

/ 09:06 PM June 17, 2024

USA team captain Micah Christenson during a press conference ahead of the VNL Week 3 in Manila.

USA team captain Micah Christenson during a press conference ahead of the VNL Week 3 in Manila. –PNVF PHOTO

VNL 2024 schedule: Week 3 Manila, Philippines leg

MANILA, Philippines — Team USA braces for a tough climb to the Final Eight of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) as it plays crucial games in its first stint in Manila for Week 3.

All eyes are on the Americans as they play at Mall of Asia Arena for the first time in the Philippines’ third straight hosting of the prestigious world tournament.


“It’s a pleasure to be here. It’s our first year here. We felt a lot of love online and on social media from Filipino fans so to finally be here and experience it in person is a real pleasure,” USA skipper Micah Christenson said. “We’re excited to experience it all.”

Christenson, the reigning VNL Best Setter, knows his team is facing the daunting task of making it to the Top 8 as they are currently in 12th place with a 3-5 record.

“I think we’re trying to just improve and get better. We’ve got a bit of a mountain to climb in terms of qualifying for the finals,” he said. “But we brought our climbing gears so we’re going to try our best to get up there.”

READ: ‘Great expectations’ ahead for Japan in VNL Manila leg


USA coach John Speraw, meanwhile, said is awe of the Philippine volleyball’s popularity that they will finally get to experience it in Manila, where the FIVB Men’s World Championship next year will also be held. 

“We were talking about the fact that we had not had an opportunity to come to the Philippines yet we were looking forward to that day. Here we are so we’re excited to be here and grateful for the opportunity to experience it,” Speraw said.


“I’ve heard so much about which is the support of the Philippine fans and how much volleyball has grown here in this country. And certainly a precursor to the world championships next year.”

The USA will debut in Manila on Wednesday against Iran at 7 p.m. after the 3 p.m. game between France and Germany.

“We’re trying to have our best week of VNL and play our best volleyball this summer and as we look to continue to improve with the ultimate goal in mind. We’re excited to get out and compete and see all the fans,” said the USA coach.

The Top 8 teams will qualify in the VNL Final Round in Poland. The league is also serving as the final volleyball tournament before the Paris Olympics with five tickets based on the FIVB World Rankings up for grabs.

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Only seven countries – USA, host France, Germany, Brazil, Japan, Poland, and Canada – have booked their Olympic seats so far.

The Netherlands and Brazil open the VNL Leg 3 on Tuesday at 5 p.m., followed by the main game between Japan and Canada at 8:30 p.m.


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