TJ DeFalco
Long Beach State Wilson

USA Volleyball, LBSUers Tied For First In World

After two weeks in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League (formerly the World League), the United States Men’s National Team is in a three-way tie for first place with a record of 5-1.

The USA team has featured a trio of local players in Wilson and Long Beach State alum Dustin Watten, as well as current LBSU stars TJ DeFalco and Kyle Ensing. Watten has been in rotation at libero and is second on the team with nine digs so far. DeFalco is seventh on the USA team and 83rdin the world in total points scored with 22 kills and seven blocks.

Ensing was with the team for the first week of the VNL when the USA was in China for three matches, but didn’t play. The USA went 3-0 in the first week with wins over China, Bulgaria, and Argentina, then last week in Brazil went 2-1. The USA beat Japan and Korea before falling to host Brazil in a controversial five-set match.

Brazil earned a yellow card for loud protestations of a call in the second set, which the USA won to take a 2-0 lead in the match. But Brazil won sets three and four and then fought off three match points in the fifth set to win the match.

The USA went up 18-17 in the fifth set but a video review call went Brazil’s way to put them up 18-17—they went on to win 20-18 to take the match.

This week from Friday through Sunday the USA men will be in Canada as DeFalco and Watten continue to collect stamps in their passport. The USA will face Canada, Germany and Australia this weekend before returning to the States to host Serbia, Poland, and Iran in Illinois June 15-17.

If the USA makes the final round, it would be in France July 1-4.

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.