Team USA deems VNL campaign a success despite falling short of Top 8

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
Team USA deems VNL campaign a success despite falling short of Top 8
The US ended up 12th in the 16-team tournament.

MANILA, Philippines – Team USA captain Micah Christenson called their 2024 Volleyball Nations League stint in Manila a “great success” even as the Americans missed the cut for the Top 8 after losing their last preliminaries match against Japan at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday night.

Finishing with a 5-7 slate overall and a 2-2 record in Manila, the US ended up 12th in the 16-team tournament, a long way from the quarterfinalists. Nevertheless, Christenson said it was a good showing for his team with all things considered.

Expounding on what made it special, the veteran setter looked to his teammates and the Philippine volleyball community.

“[Being here in Manila was] incredible. It was capped off with an incredible crowd, the last game up here in Manila so, I wish we could’ve made it a little longer of a match, but at the same time it was good volleyball, it was really good volleyball out there on the court,” said Christenson after their loss against Japan.

“[I’m] really proud of our guys and how we fought and how we battled. So now, we’re just gonna keep learning from our experience but, our trip in Manila was a great success based on our experience.”

Team USA was among fan favorites during the weeklong tournament in Manila, coming second only to Yuki Ishikawa’s Japan. But even against the Ryujin Nippon, Christenson felt the love among the 12,000-strong crowd at Mall of Asia Arena.

Still, there were some niggles that Team USA just couldn’t shake off, especially considering the tough schedule of the VNL Manila leg. Apart from playing on back-to-back days, recovery was a problem as sometimes games only had around a 12-hours gap between them on some occasions.

Despite everything, Christenson believes that the tournament has been good to them in the long run. Especially to the bench, who were able to see the most action against Japan on Sunday, it was key for them to gain the experience in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It’s great. I mean, we’re gonna need everybody at the Olympics, so, from the top-down, we’re gonna need everybody on this team,” said Christenson. 

“So to be able to have the ability to give them experience in a big game, in a sold out crowd against Japan is a wonderful experience.”

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