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Tom Pingel with Men's Junior National Team

July 01, 2008, 4:35 p.m. (ET)

6/29 - 9:30p

Somewhere outside San Salvador, El Salvador

The Men's Junior National Team is here in El Salvador for the 2008 NORCECA Men's Junior Continental Championships, which will qualify at least 2 teams for the 2009 Men's Junior World Championships next summer.  To my knowledge it is the first time that a US indoor team has competed in El Salvador - not absolutely certain, though.

The training team began training at the OTC in Chula Vista, CA (just outside San Diego) on June 15 and broke camp for El Salvador yesterday, June 28.  I joined the group on the 26th.  Our travel day started with departure from the OTC at 6:30a via bus up to LAX.  The entire group was slated to depart LAX at about 12:30p - the whole group except head coach Shawn Patchell who is staying a few extra days in El Salvador on vacation and had to have a separate ticket from the group.  This separate ticket departed around 10a, which he barely made, and routed him through Dallas then onto San Salvador.  Our flight was direct.  We made without issue.  Shawn.....not so much.  Mechanical and weather delays times too many to count meant that Shawn didn't leave Dallas until around 1a getting him to San Salvador around 5a.  Fortunately, Shawn was on the same connecting flight out of Dallas with the Canadian team, so the organizers were well aware of the delay and had the bus waiting for them at the airport.

Upon getting our luggage and getting through customs we crammed onto a mid-size bus and settled in for a slow, 40-minute ride to our hotel.  We arrived around 8p.  Shawn arrived at 6:30a this morning.

The roster:
Setters - Kasey Crider and Joe Kauliakamoa
Middles - Austin (Gus) Ellis, Tyler Jaynes, and Srdjan Nadazdin
Outsides/Opposites - Tri Bourne, Kyle Caldwell, Brian Muesenfechter, Brad Lawson, Murphy Troy, and Joe Sunder
Libero - Erik Shoji
Coaches - Shawn Patchell (head), Craig Dyer and Dan Friend (assistants)
Doctor - Dr. Julie Chuan
Team Leader - Tom Pingel

The USA referee for this tournament is Paul Albright from Atlanta.

The team had their lone practice on the competition floor this morning.  Generally, it is felt the facility is good.  The ceiling is plenty high.  Lighting seems ok, but it's non-air conditioned and while it's not "open air", the corners are open to the outside.  It'll be hot and humid.  We'll see....

The hotel is a small facility that seems to be specifically for sports teams.  The E.S. swimming and archery federations are located adjacent to the hotel.  The teams (USA, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Canada and Dominican Republic) take up the entire hotel.  We had heard that the hotel has wifi internet service.  Well, that isn't the case.  It has high-speed internet, but no one can get it on their computers in our group.  The Puerto Ricans told us that a hotel tech guy had to set up their laptops before they would work.  (PR has been here since last Sunday.)  The tech guy doesn't come in until Monday (tomorrow).  Everyone was anxious to contact home to let everyone know that we made it w/o incident.  The rooms have phones that receive calls, but can't make out-going calls.  There are public phones in the hotel lobby, but require a phone card - even to make a collect call.  No phone cards available until Monday.  So, hopefully, we'll get the tech guy to set us up at the hotel on Monday.  We've been told by the event organizers that there is wifi at the competition hall.....we'll see.

Food is as expected - lots of rice, beans, chicken, beef, pasta salad and dinner rolls.  The one interesting twist is that instead of juice, milk, or water, we're given cans of soda - even for breakfast.  Everyone is hopeful that that will change in the next day or so.....we'll see.

Our team Preliminary Inquiry was scheduled for 10:30a, which conflicted with our training time, so Shawn and I stayed back for the P.I., which is like team check-in, but is supposed to have the Team Leader, Head Coach, and Doctor in attendance.  Given that the gym is between 30-60 minutes bus ride from the hotel (depending on traffic), it was best that Dr. Julie go with the team. 

The Competition Director is Nelson Ramirez from NORCECA and the Dominican Republic.  The President of the Competition Committee (jury) is Edgar Alvarado of Costa Rica.

The General Technical Meeting was also tonight and was inconsequential.  This meeting is used to have everyone introduce the delegations (Team Leader, Head Coach and Team Doctor), the referees, the local host committee and the Control Committee.  It's also used to go over protocols for the event.  I've been involved in some that have gone nearly 2 hours.  This one was a speedy 40 minutes.

We open play tomorrow against the Canadians at 8p (we are on Mountain Time here in E.S.)  The other 2 teams in our pool are Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic who play at 1p.  Cuba and Mexico play at 3p.  The Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for 5p followed by El Salvador playing Guatemala.

Those of you that have received these reports from me in the past know that the first one is always the longest, so have no fear, the follow-ups will be much shorter.  For more information on the team, please go to the High Performance Section of the USAV web site at http://volleyball.teamusa.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.usavolleyball.org/

Hopefully, you'll be receiving this send on Monday depending on this internet stuff works out.....we'll see.

Monday, 6/30 - 4:20p

No internet.  At least not for most. Some can get it but, not 2/3 of the coaches.  Who knows when this will be sent - not to mention match results.

Breakfast was a bit lacking today.  Baked chicken wings, refried beans, bun-less hot dogs and pepsi.  The pepsi wasn't even cherry-flavored so we could say we had some fruit (flavor) for b-fast.  Replace the beans with some kraut and add some mustard, ketchup and relish and we could have been tailgating at a ball-game.  I guess that's what we get for getting there right before they closed out the kitchen for the morning.

Speaking of match results, the first match of the day began at 1p and pitted tourney favorite Puerto Rico against Dominican Republic.  PR won the first 2 sets fairly easily, but the DR caught fire and some main players for PR went flat.  The result?  The first upset of the tourney as Dominicana prevailed, 18-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-13.  As both of these teams are in our pool, it remains to be seen if this is good for us or not.

So we're awaiting the start of the 3p match and all of a sudden the wind starts wipping and creating a sandstorm in the gym as it blew all kinds dirt in through the open areas a the ends of the arena.  Soon the dust is replaced by rain as the wind carries a heavy mist into the gym and onto the court.  Warm-ups were eventually stopped as the court was wet from the mist and leaks in the roof.  So, we had about a 20 minute rain delay.  See, we are at a ballgame.

Once the match started, Cuba thoroughly dominated Mexico 25-16, 25-19, 25-12.

Next up short Opening Ceremonies followed, finally, by our match.

Guatemala ended up defeating El Salvador 3-0. USA v Canada will begin about 1:15 late from the schedule 8p start.

USA starts Lawson, Troy, Jaynes, Joe K., Ellis, Caldwell, and Shoji.  After leading most of the game, Canada came back to take game 1 27-25.  About ½ way through the game Brad Lawson sustained an ankle sprain.  He tried to continue, but was unable.

Game 2 starters were the same, except Bourne for Lawson.  The team struggled in most areas and was defeated 25-16.  Same starters except Crider for Joe K.  Not much different.  A late run of points made the score slightly more respectable, but USA loses game 3 25-21 and the match 3-0.  Canada was better than USA in virtually all aspects tonight.

Big match v Dominican Republic.  A USA win puts us right back in the mix.

Tom Pingel
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