USA stars rave about VNL Manila stint, relish Filipino crowd

USA stars rave about VNL Manila stint, relish Filipino crowd

/ 01:04 PM June 25, 2024

Team USA Taylor Averill VNL Manila

USA’s Taylor Averill during a game against Japan in the VNL Manila leg.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philipines — Having a blast in their first time playing in Manila in the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) was an understatement for USA stars Taylor Averill and Erik Shoji.

Averill, who expressed his love to Filipino fans on his social media posts, even wore a Team Philippines jacket during the warmup of their match against Japan, which beat them in straight sets on Sunday in front of 12,000 fans at Mall of Asia Arena.

“I’m so honored. This is the coolest jacket. Such a cool token to have of appreciation and I’m blessed to wear it,” said Averill, only one of two starters along with Shoji who played in the US’ final game in Manila.

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READ: VNL 2024: USA star Taylor Averill wants to come back, explore PH

“I’m blessed again for the fans that came out. You guys don’t understand. In the States we don’t get this kind of love for what we do so it means a lot to me. I don’t take it for granted.”

Despite Team USA not making it to the Final Eight with a 5-7 record, the American middle blocker was thrilled to experience the Filipinos’ love for volleyball.

Erik Shoji Team USA VNL 2024 Manila

Team USA’s Erik Shoji.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

“I’m so excited to come back here. I’ve had way too much fun here. The volleyball community here is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I’m just so grateful. I don’t know how many. Apparently, it was sold out. Definitely sounded like it. I had a blast. It was so much fun,” said Averill. “I don’t know how many more times I can say it. I freaking love it here. I don’t want to leave. Thanks guys. Appreciate it.”

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Shoji also savored the chance to meet the men’s and women’s players of Alas Pilipinas.

READ: VNL 2024: Experience makes USA’s Manila stint a ‘great success’

“It’s the best experience that I think we’ve had in the VNL in a while. Obviously, we wanted to win but the crowd was awesome and It was a stretch game for both teams as you can see but, Japan was a little bit better than us,” the American libero said. “The atmosphere was really intense so we’re hoping for a crowd like this one in here in Manila when we play in Paris.”

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Averill urges the Filipino fans to continue supporting Team USA in the Paris Olympics and hopes to reunite with them in the FIVB Men’s World Championship in 2025

“Don’t be afraid to support us from afar this Olympics. We would appreciate your support. Otherwise, we’ll see you guys next year. Thank you so much. I love you guys,” he said.

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TAGS: USA, Volleyball Nations League (VNL)

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