Day 4 in Italy: Pulling Off the Upset

Aug. 28, 2009, 3:05 p.m. (ET)

Aug. 28, 2009

Well, the kids pulled off the upset!!  After playing nobody but our own teammates for the past two weeks, the U.S. Boys' Youth National Team saw someone different on the other side of the net and responded with some grit and beat the defending champion Iran in four games. 

After winning with some steady play in set I 25-20, things quickly went south in set II 13-25. The first match of a tournament is always a bit nerve racking and it showed. Even though we won set I, our middles (starters Dylan Davis and Tanner Clayton) were having spacing problems (distance from the setter) and not connecting with starting setter Micah Christenson. We got by but the Iranians picked up their game with some good defense and ran away with the second. Connor Olbright spelled Micah for a bit and did a nice job steadying our troops. It also gave Micah a bit of a rest and he returned with a bit more calm.

Maurice Torres started at the opposite and was spelled by Josh Taylor. Evan Mottram started at Libero and passed well.  All twelve players got in the match. Taylor Crabb served well in each game and Nick Gibson got a few touches at the net. Spencer Rowe spelled Tanner and served well and had some good touches at the net as well. The difference makers were our starting outsides Jeremy Dejno, Taylor Sander and Josh at the opposite. Taylor had19 kills (.308) with three aces followed by Jeremy with 12 kills (.348) and Josh came off the bench and collected 9 kills (.400) and one ace. USA won the third set 25-22 and the fourth 25-23.

Most of you on this web site probably understand hitting percentages but some of you may not. It is similar to a baseball hitting percentage in importance and is arrived at by subtracting a hitter’s errors from his kills and dividing by his attempts. I will try and steer clear of all but major statistics and keep it pretty simple - that will be better for both of us.

It was a good win but as I am writing this, the team is forgetting it and studying tomorrow's opponent Serbia who defeated Japan today 3-2. The schedule is the same as today with the match at 12:30 local time. It is always nice to have a similar schedule so eating times, film times, departure times… etc. are the same.

Today's photo collection is a mixed bag.  Two of the pics show the oft talked about beach chairs that I have mentioned before ad nauseam  and one is my first course of tonight's dinner.  Just thought I would throw those in. I am a seafood enthusiast and we usually have some form of seafood every evening. The ocean (I guess it is a sea) is very warm and obviously has no surf. I would have to say it is about 75 degrees. Weather has been beautiful. Pretty warm  - maybe about 80-85 with high humidity. I went in the "sea" this morning after I took a jog  along the beach. Actually, I don't jog any more - I kind of shuffle. But the water felt great.

I am going to begin a new chapter to my blog today and share with you some of our players' thoughts about their experiences in this prestigious tournament. Maurice Torres will be our first "guest blogger". Maurice as mentioned is one of our opposites and will be attending Pepperdine University when we return next Monday.

Hello to all the readers,

Today was a great day for USA Volleyball in the fact that we knocked off the defending champs Iran in 4 games. It was a great win for Team USA because all 12 players got to see time on the court, which some people know is very challenging. All 12 guys on our roster are great athletes and great teammates and we continue to grow as a team on and off the court. As a team today we meshed well with each other, played well, hit hard, blocked well, and cleaned up all the junk that came across the net. For all of us players it was our first match that we had played overseas and it was quite an experience. It was a new experience that we all got to share together while wearing the USA flag on our jerseys. After the win we got to get lunch back at the hotel and take some time to rest before our afternoon practice.

Today before and after our match we got to watch some of the other teams play and it was interesting to watch other nations play and battle on the court. The sounds of air horns, spectators, and parents fills the gym when anyone playing, which gives us all quite a rush of adrenaline as we take the court and watch other teams play. It is quite an experience to hear an air horn go off when you are trying to hit a couple balls. The rush while we are on the court is unbelievable and the fan base is great. We have fans here in Italy and back at home.

In our afternoon practice, we worked on all the little things that we needed to fine tune before our match tomorrow against Serbia. Serbia is a good team and will be a great opponent and we all look forward to playing against them tomorrow with hopes of bringing home another USA victory.

-Maurice Torres

So that's it for today, volleyball fans.  Just heard that Argentina beat France.  Argentina beat Brazil in South America's qualifying tournament to get here - the first time Brazil had lost that zone and France was the European champion.  Sounds like the boys from Argentina have a good club.

Until tomorrow,


View Ken Preston’s photo gallery.