The duo who helped lead Long Beach State to multiple NCAA championships will now try to help lead the United States to an Olympic gold medal.
Outside attacker TJ DeFalco and opposite Kyle Ensing were among the first-time Olympians selected Monday to the 12-player U.S. roster for the upcoming summer games.
Both DeFalco and Ensing joined the U.S. Men’s National Team during their All-American college careers that concluded in 2019. DeFalco also is among the tournament’s top 20 with 73 kills at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League that is currently underway in Italy
“We had some really difficult decisions to make,” coach John Speraw said in a statement. “Team USA over the last four or five years has become deeper. The discussions about whom to take on this team involved the performances during VNL as well as what these players bring as teammates and competitors.”
Along with DeFalco and Ensing, former UCLA players Mitch Stahl and Garrett Muagututia will make their Olympic debuts.
The United States returns eight players who helped the team win the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics.
Opposite Matt Anderson and middle attacker David Smith will play in their third consecutive Olympics. In addition, setters Micah Chrisstenson and Kavika Shoji, middle attacker Max Holt, outside attackers Thomas Jaseschke and Taylor Sander, and libero Erik Shoji will return to the Olympics.
The United States since medaling at the last Olympics won the silver medal at the 2019 Volleyball Nations League and had a third-place finish at the 2019 World Cup.
The 12-team Olympic men’s volleyball tournament will begin July 24 with pool-play matches. The top-four teams in each of the two pools will advance to the quarterfinals.
2021 Olympics: U.S. Men’s National Team roster
Setter: Micah Christenson (USC 2012-15)
Setter: Kawika Shoji (Stanford 2007-10)
Opposite: Matt Anderson (Penn State 2006-08)
Opposite: Kyle Ensing (Long Beach State 2016-19)
Outside attacker: TJ DeFalco (Long Beach State 2016-19)
Outside attacker: Thomas Jaeschke (Loyola 2013-15)
Outside attacker: Garrett Muagututia (UCLA 2007-10)
Outside attacker: Taylor Sander (BYU 2011-14)
Middle attacker: Max Holt (Penn State 2006-09)
Middle attacker: Mitch Stahl (UCLA 2014-17)
Middle attacker: David Smith (UC Irvine 2004-07)
Libero: Erik Shoji (Stanford 2009-12)
Setter: Josh Tuaniga (Long Beach State 2016-19)
Opposite: Ben Patch (BYU 2013, 2016-17)
Opposite: Kyle Russell (UC Irvine 2013-16)
Outside attacker: Aaron Russell (Penn State 2012-15)
Outside attacker: Brenden Sander (BYU 2015-18)
Middle attacker: Taylor Averill (Hawai’i 2012-15)
Middle attacker: Jeff Jendryk (Loyola 2014-17)
Libero: Dustin Watten (Long Beach State 2006-09)
Head coach: John Speraw
Assistant coach: Brian Thornton
Assistant coach: Matthew Fuerbringer
Assistant coach: Mike Wall
Team manager: Erik Sullivan
Technical coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic trainer: Aaron Brock
Strength coach: Timothy Pelot
Doctor: Chris Lee
Statistician and scout: Andrew Strick
Massage therapist: Jennifer Holt