Comeback bid falls short for U.S. in VNL gold-medal match

Photo courtesy of the FIVB

The U.S. comeback attempt fizzled out and ended with the silver medal.

The United States rallied back from a two-defeat before losing to France in the decisive fifth game 25-16, 25-19, 15-25, 21-25, 15-10 in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League gold-medal match on Sunday in Italy.

France went on a 6-0 run early in the fifth game to take a 7-2 lead, but the United States cut the deficit to 11-9. The defending Olympic gold medalists responded with a 4-1 run to close out the match and win the Volleyball Nations League championship.


The United States forced a fifth game following coach John Speraw making a series of lineup changes to start the third game with the United States down two games.

Speraw moved former Long Beach State All-American TJ DeFalco from outside attacker to opposite and inserted Garrett Muagututia at outside attacker.

DeFalco had a game-high seven kills on a .750 attack percentage in the third game and ended the match with 13 kills.

DeFalco was one of three U.S. players with double-digit kills. Outside attacker Aaron Russll had team-high 20 kills and hit .516, while Muagututia contributed 11 kills and had zero errors on a team-best .733 attack percentage.

Outside attacker Earvin Ngapeth in the championship victory led all players with 21 kills.

This is the second time in the last four years that the United States won the silver medal at the international tournament. The United States lost to Russia in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League gold-medal match.