VNL 2024: Team USA overcomes Brazil for first win in Manila

VNL 2024: Team USA overcomes Brazil for first win in Manila

/ 10:37 PM June 20, 2024

Team USA's TJ Defalco goes for a hit during a VNL 2024 game in Manila

Team USA’s TJ Defalco goes for a hit during a VNL 2024 game in Manila. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — TJ Defalco connected to Micah Christenson’s brilliant playmaking as USA earned its first win in Manila after staving off Brazil in five sets,  25-21, 18-25, 25-21, 22-25, 15-9, in the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Week 3 on Thursday night at Mall of Asia Arena.

Defalco delivered 21 points including the two game-clinching attacks, as Christenson orchestrated USA’s offense with 41 excellent sets to keep themselves in the hunt for the Final Eight with a 4-6 record in 11th place. 

The 27-year-old Defalco also led the Americans’ bounce back from a tough 26-28, 25-23, 25-18, 26-28, 15-13 loss to Iran less than 24 hours ago as his 33-point explosion went for naught. 

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“That one was tough. We’re in an interesting part right now in USA volleyball. We just come out of every game trying to get better and just trying to play USA volleyball. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re figuring it out and that was a big step for us,” said Defalco, who had 18 kills and three aces.

“Coming out of playing Brazil, you know they’re gonna play hard every single time, and I’m very proud of our team staying in the game. We helped each other out. Brazil’s an amazing team and it feels great to barely pull that one out in five.”

Micah Christenson and Torey Defalco in Team USA's first win in VNL Week 3 in Manila

Micah Christenson and Torey Defalco in Team USA’s first win in VNL Week 3 in Manila. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Maxwell Holt finished with 15 points built on nine attacks, four blocks, and two aces that gave USA an 11-6 lead before Defalco put on the finishing touches.

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Matt Anderson chipped in 13 points, while Taylor Averill added 11 points to gift their thousands of Filipino fans with a win.

READ: VNL 2024: Micah Christenson, USA grateful for fans’ support in loss

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“Very intense five sets against Brazil. They’re always there to come out and play as hard as they can. Our only hope is to match that energy and I feel like we did that tonight,” Defalco said. “A lot of the USA guys are very friendly with Team Brazil because one, they compete really hard when they come to play. Real volleyball all the time. So, it’s very easy to compete and try to get to that level, and they’re at a very high level.”

Defalco also thanked the Filipino fans, who made them feel at home before they take a break on Friday before ending their Week 3 stint against Germany and Japan over the weekend.

Brazil remained as the fourth seed despite dropping to a 6-4 record. Alan Souza carried the team with 26 points. Lukas Bergmann had 19 points, while Lucarelli Souza added 13 points.

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Brazil seeks to bounce back against Canada at 3 p.m. on Friday

TAGS: USA, Volleyball Nations League (VNL)

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