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Christenson had a solid performance in his first appearance in the VNL 2022

Three-time Olympic champions the United States and Tokyo bronze medallists Argentina have been boosted by the addition of star setters Micah Christenson and Luciano De Cecco in Week 3 of the Volleyball Nations League 2022, after they sat out of the first two weeks of the competition.

The two had an immediate positive impact on their teams, with the 29-year-old Christenson leading USA to a 3-1 (25-21, 25-19, 22-25, 25-18) victory against Germany, and the 34-year-old De Cecco helping Argentina secure a four-set (25-21, 23-25, 25-21, 25-23) triumph over Canada on the first day of competition in Osaka, Japan.

· Watch all VNL 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

With Christenson taking on the setting duties for the first time this season, the Americans outscored the Germans in kills (59 to 47), blocks (four to three) and aces (seven to two) to secure their seventh win in nine matches in the VNL.

The star setter contributed with five points of his own (three kills, one ace, one block), but also set up outside hitters Aaron Russell (23 points) and TJ DeFalco (12) and opposite Kyle Ensing (13) to double-digit scoring performances.

“It’s great to be back with the guys,” Christenson said after the match. “That’s the part that you miss the most, the competition with your brothers. It wasn’t as clean as we’d like, but that’s part of the process. We’re happy to get off the court with a 3-1 victory and we still have things to work on, which is great. It was great to see all the new faces do an excellent job over the first two weeks and now to re-join them.”

Micah Christenson Assists (USA vs. Germany)

The Americans will be back on the court on Thursday, at 12.00 local time (3.00 GMT), when they will face reigning Olympic champions France.

The best setter of last year’s Tokyo Olympics, De Cecco returned to Japan in great style, tallying a block and an ace and registering 41 successful sets against Canada in a match in which Argentina dominated in blocks (seven to four) and aces (four to three), but also benefited from Canadian mistakes (41 to 29) to come out on top.

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De Cecco in action against the Canadians

The setter’s presence led outside hitters Ezequiel Palacios (18 points) and Luciano Palonsky (11 points) and middle blocker Agustin Loser (12 points) to productive nights.

“It’s really awesome to be back in the VNL,” De Cecco commented. “I really missed playing with this team and I’m really happy with our game today. We can still play better in some situations, but this is a new team, so we’re trying to keep things organised so everyone can give their best. We just kept calm and continued to compete.”

The Argentineans hope De Cecco’s presence helps the team move up in the standings and become one of the eight teams that will compete in the VNL Finals – they are currently tenth with three wins. Argentina’s next match will be on Friday, at 12.40 local time (3.40 GMT), against Australia.