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Tiebreaker Times

2024 VNL Season

Holt, De Falco shine as USA edges past Brazil in VNL Manila thriller


Team USA fended off the challenge of cross-continent adversaries Brazil to claim its fourth win of the 2024 FIVB Men’s Volleyball Nations League in a marathon 25-21, 18-25, 25-21, 22-25, 15-9 battle on Thursday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The Americans improved to a 4-6 win-loss record while dropping the Brazilians to a 6-4 record, tying them with Canada for the fourth and fifth spots in the tournament’s Top 8.

In the fifth and final set, setter and captain Micah Christenson activated his middle blockers Max Holt and Taylor Averill, a strategy they had employed throughout the match. Holt fired back-to-back kills to give the United States a 7-6 advantage. Two aces from Holt set up heroics for TJ De Falco, whose consecutive kills sealed the debut win for the Americans in the Philippines.

“We have different players who can contribute in various ways. We have a deep and experienced team, and many of us need these minutes,” said the 37-year-old Holt, who led the Americans in the deciding set with five of his 16 points.

The middle blocker from Cincinnati, Ohio, finished with nine kills, five blocks, and two service aces that were crucial in supporting another strong performance from top scorer De Falco, who led the team with 21 points from 18 attacks and three aces.VNL-2024-Torey-Defalco-2 Holt, De Falco shine as USA edges past Brazil in VNL Manila thriller 2024 VNL Season News Volleyball  - philippine sports news

“I’m very proud of the team and how we stayed in the game. It feels amazing to win in five sets,” said De Falco, who plays professionally in Japan for JTEKT Stings.

Christenson and the USA’s plan was evident from the start, with Averill opening the match with quick kills, while solid defense led to transition plays for De Falco and Matt Anderson in subsequent rallies.

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Brazil disrupted the Americans’ rhythm in the second set with powerful serves, leading to easy kills from Alan Souza and Lukas Felipe Bergmann, as well as morale-deflating aces.

The third and fourth sets showcased the strengths of both teams. The USA regained the set advantage at 2-1 when Brazil faced communication issues on defense. In the fourth set, however, Brazil’s strong service game allowed them to force a deciding fifth frame.

Next, the USA will aim to build momentum as they face Germany, also at 4-6, on Saturday at 11 a.m. Alan ended with a match-high 26 points, while Bergmann contributed 19 markers starting instead of last match’s top scorer Darlan Souza.

Meanwhile, Brazil will take on Canada, also at 6-4, on Friday at 3 p.m.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.


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