U.S. Boys' Youth Team Upsets Iran at Worlds

Aug. 28, 2009, 8:58 a.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: (719) 228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 28, 2009) – The U.S. Boys’ Youth National Team opened the 2009 FIVB Boys’ Youth (U-19) World Championship with a 3-1 (25-20, 13-25, 25-22, 25-23) pool play upset of defending champion Iran on Friday in Jesolo, Italy.

Team USA (1-0) will play Serbia (1-0) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. PT) in its second pool play match. Iran (0-1) will face Japan (0-1).

U.S. team captain Taylor Sander (Norco, Calif.) led all scorers with 21 points on a match-high 18 kills, two blocks and one ace. Jeremy Dejno (New Berlin, Wis.) added 13 points on 13 kills. Dylan Davis (Corona del Mar, Calif.) totaled 10 points on four kills and a match-high six blocks.

“Of course it's a big surprise for us to win the opening match,” U.S. Head Coach Andy Read (Long Beach State) said. “During the second set, Iran played really well. Both teams have played well in blocking and serving.”

Amir Ghafour paced Iran with 16 points on 10 kills, four blocks and a match-high two aces. Hamed Tariverdi added 11 points.

Every player on both rosters saw playing time in the match.

The U.S. team completed 45 percent of its spike attempts (55 of 121 with 26 errors) while Iran completed 34 percent (37 of 108 with 21 errors). Each team had 14 blocks, but Iran had 18 blocking errors while Team USA had eight. The U.S. Boys’ Youth Team had four aces compared to two for Iran, but the U.S. struggled with 17 service errors while Iran had eight.

Team USA was credited with 38 excellent receptions and three faults on 83 attempts. It also had 27 digs and six faults on 33 attempts.

“The American team has represented a big surprise for us,” said Iranian team captain Farhad Salafzoon. “Their playing techniques worked really well and they created us some problems while receiving. We also played well; but they played more as a real team, not just as individuals, and this is fundamental in volleyball.”

Among other U.S. scorers, Josh Taylor (Honolulu, Hawai’i) scored nine points on eight kills and one ace. Maurice Torres (Riverside, Calif.) scored nine points on nine kills. Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawai’i) tallied five points on one kill, three blocks and one ace. Spencer Rowe (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.) totaled four points on two kills and two blocks. Tanner Clayton (San Diego, Calif.) had one point on one block and Taylor Crabb (Honolulu, Hawai’i) scored one point on one ace.

Christenson was credited with 23 running sets and four faults on 99 attempts. Connor Olbright (Orange, Calif.) had three running sets with no faults on 16 attempts.

Libero Evan Mottram (Leona Valley, Calif.) was credited with 23 excellent receptions and three faults on 44 attempts. Dejno added nine excellent receptions and no faults on 18 attempts. Mottram totaled eight digs and no faults on eight attempts. Christenson was also credited with eight digs and no faults on eight attempts.

Read started Sander and Dejno at outside hitter, Clayton and Davis at middle blocker, Torres at opposite, Christenson at setter and Mottram at libero. Rowe started the third and fourth sets for Clayton. Taylor substituted for Torres in the third set and started the fourth. Crabb and Olbright played as substitutes.

In the first set, Iran held an 11-9 lead, but Team USA scored four straight points, including a kill and two aces by Sander, to lead 13-11. Iran scored another point before the United States scored three more in a row on Iran’s serving error and kills by Torres and Dejno to lead 16-12 at the second technical timeout (TTO). Iran could not put together another run of more than two straight points and Team USA went on to win the set 25-20.

Iran took a 6-4 lead in the second set as the U.S. scored on kills by Sander and Torres and blocks by Clayton and Torres. A Sander kill cut Iran’s lead to one at 6-5, but Iran scored the next four points, including three on U.S. errors, to lead 10-5. Read substituted Olbright for Christenson at setter, but the damage was done as Iran increased the lead to 15-7 before Team USA scored two straight points on a Sander block and Iran error. Nevertheless, Iran led 16-9 at the second TTO and went on to win the set 25-13.

Christenson, who had returned to the match toward the end of the second set, started the third set and the U.S. held an 8-6 lead at the first TTO, including a kill by Sander, two by Torres and a block by Rowe, who had also started the set. Iran came back to tie the score at 8-8 and the teams battled back and forth, with Torres and Sander dominating the scoring for the United States. With Iran leading 20-19, the U.S. Boys’ Youth Team scored twice on kills by Sander and Dejno to lead 21-20 and gain the upper hand. Iran tied the score at 21 and again at 22, but Team USA scored the final three points of the match on Iran’s serving error, a block from Rowe and a Sander kill.

Team USA again held an 8-6 lead at the first TTO of the fourth set, including three kills by Taylor, a kill by Dejno and a block from Christenson. Iran was never able to pull closer than a one-point disadvantage. With the United States leading 11-10, Taylor scored twice in a row on a block and an ace. Iran scored one point on Taylor’s serving error, but he made up for it on the next play with a kill, to give Team USA a 14-11 lead. The U.S. Boys’ Youth Team led 16-13 at the second TTO. Later, with the United States leading 19-16, it scored twice on a kill by Sander and block from Christenson to take its greatest lead of the set at 21-16. Iran called timeout and scored two straight points on kills to pull back to within three. With Team USA leading 23-19, Iran scored twice on kills and Read called timeout. But Iran scored again on a U.S. attack error to pull to within one point at 23-22. Read called another timeout and Sander came out to score on a quick kill that brought Team USA to match point. Iran scored once with a kill, but Sander ended the match with another quick kill.

Read Ken Preston’s “Blogging from the Boot.”

View Ken Preston’s photo gallery.

The event web site is at www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/Youth/men/2009/.

FIVB Boys’ Youth World Championship
Aug. 28-Sept. 6 in Jesolo and Bassano del Grappa, Italy

No Name (Position, Hometown, Region, Club)
2 Micah Christenson (S, Honolulu, Hawai’i, Aloha, Outrigger Canoe VC)
3 Tanner Clayton (MB, San Diego, Calif., Southern California, Epic VC)
4 Taylor Crabb (OH, Honolulu, Hawai’i, Aloha, Outrigger Canoe VC)
6 Dylan Davis (MB, Corona del Mar, Calif., So Cal, Balboa Bay VC)
7 Jeremy Dejno (OH, New Berlin, Wis., Badger, Lightning VC)
10 Nick Gibson (OH, Shorewood, Wis., Badger, North Shore Milwaukee VC)
12 Evan Mottram (L, Leona Valley, Calif., So Cal, Pacific Palisades VC)
14 Connor Olbright (S, Orange, Calif., So Cal, Balboa Bay VC)
15 Spencer Rowe (MB, Trabuco Canyon, Calif., So Cal, OCVC)
16 C Taylor Sander (OH, Norco, Calif., So Cal, Orange Coast VC)
18 Joshua Taylor (Opp/OH, Honolulu, Hawai’i, Aloha, Ku’ikahi VC)
19 Maurice Torres (Opp/OH, Riverside, Calif., So Cal, OC Riptides)

Head Coach: Andy Read (Long Beach State University)
Assistant Coach: Sean Byron (Ohio State University)
Team Leader/Manager: Ken Preston (former head coach at UC Santa Barbara)
Doctor: David Dyck Jr.
Therapist/Trainer: Daniel Friend (Lewis University)
Technical Coordinator: Chris Birch (Penn State University)

Pool A: Italy, Tunisia, Puerto Rico, Egypt
Pool B: Iran, USA, Serbia, Japan
Pool C: Argentina, France, Spain, Algeria
Pool D: Brazil, Russia Poland, India

Pool B Match Schedule and Results
All matches in Jesolo
Aug. 28
Serbia def. Japan, 20-25, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21, 15-13
USA def. Iran, 25-20, 13-25, 25-22, 25-23
Aug. 29
Iran vs. Japan (10 a.m. local; 1 a.m. PT)
USA vs. Serbia (12:30 p.m. local; 3:30 a.m. PT)
Aug. 30
USA vs. Japan (10 a.m. local; 1 a.m. PT)
Iran vs. Serbia (12:30 p.m. local; 3:30 a.m. PT)