Men's Junior Volleyball Team Wins NORCECA Pool

By Becky Murdy | Aug. 29, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

Becky Murdy
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 29, 2012) – The U.S. Men’s Junior National Volleyball Team used big swings and scrappy defense to defeat Mexico 25-18, 25-18, 25-20 on Wednesday evening at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and capture Pool A in the 2012 NORCECA Men's Junior Continental Championship (U-21).

With the win the U.S. (3-0) secured a spot in the semifinals on Friday, bypassing the quarterfinal round. The top three finishing teams in the NORCECA Men's Junior Continental Championship earn berths into the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Men's Junior World Championship.

Opposite Ben Patch (Provo, Utah) delivered continuous shots from the right side for a match-high 12 kills, two blocks and 14 points. Patch started all three sets and built on the successful set-and-attack from the hands of team captain and setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu).

“Micah and I spoke before the match and we talked about wanting to find a connection tonight,” Patch said. “We figured that tonight would be the best night to bring it out since Mexico is a good team and we knew that if we played our game we would be contenders and we obviously showed that.”

U.S. libero Tony Ensbury (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) was the core of the U.S. defense keeping the floor clean with quick-reaction plays.

“We wanted to just stay focused out there,” Ensbury said. “We knew that if we stayed calm during the longer rallies or a missed opportunities and took care of our side of the net that we would be ok. We kept saying to look to the next play, the next ball, side out and nail the pass.”

Team USA out blocked Mexico 13-1 and produced a 41-29 attack point margin. The USA converted 47.7 percent of its attacks despite posting 25 errors.

With the win Team USA (3-0), defending tournament champion, advances directly to Friday’s semifinal round and Mexico (2-1) will challenge Pool B’s third-place team, Guatemala, in a quarterfinal match on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. MST.

“We finally get a day off and are going to relax,” Ensbury said. “We have practice in the morning and then are just going to take some time off.”

U.S. Men's Junior National Volleyball Team Head Coach Peter Hanson started the first and second sets with Greg Petty and D.J. White (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) at outside, Christenson at setter, and Matt Tarantino (Van Nuys, Calif.) and Nick Olsen (New Berlin, Wis.) at middle blocker, Patch at opposite and Ensbury at libero. Michael Henchy (Ventura, Calif.) started the third set for Petty at outside.

White posted his tournament personal-best 12 points off of 11 kills and a block. Olsen and Tarantino both charted seven points. Olsen connected on five kills and two blocks while Tarantino posted a team-high four blocks and three kills.

Henchy played in the second set and started the third with four kills, one block and one service ace for six points. Petty delivered three kills for three points while James Shaw (Woodside, Calif.) posted two kills and a block after subbing in the third set. Scott Rhein subbed in all three sets at outside and posted a service ace. West clocked playing time in the third set at setter.

“Congratulations to Mexico for a hard fought match,” said Christenson, who serves as the U.S. captain. “Going into the match we knew Mexico would be a crafty opponent. For the semifinals, we will prepare the same way by focusing on us first and working on the scouting report.”

“I thought it was a well-played match by both teams,” Hanson said. “Mexico did some things tonight that we had not seen other opponents do. They run a diverse offense with combinations. We were able to settle into the match and have patience on our side of the net. Mexico played with lots of energy and it was a fun match.”

“We couldn’t control the great service of the USA team, so we could not make all our combination plays” Mexico head coach Justo Arias said. “We need to practice more on our block as USA hit very high.”

“Congratulations to USA,” Mexico captain Jonathan Ponce said. “It was a great match. USA is taller than us and we wanted to use our combinations to get more points. We gave all we had on the court. This morning we talked about how this would be like a final for us. We hope to face USA later.”

Mexico started the first set with a service error giving the U.S. the quick advantage in momentum. A double block from patch and Tarantino kept the momentum going at 2-0. Mexico capitalized on a gap in the U.S. block for its first point of the set and match. Petty misjudged his distance and attacked into the net, but a quick kill from Tarantino in the middle kept the U.S. ahead at 3-2. Mexico then sent an attack long followed by a U.S. error, in the net at 4-3. Petty fired a hard-hit too much for Mexico’s libero to handle to give the U.S. a two-point lead at 5-3. A huge dig from Ensbury gave Olsen the chance for an attack and kill at 6-3. Olsen charted his second kill at 7-4 but Petty overshot his target and sent a serve long for an error and point, Mexico. White responded with a swing from the left side to bring the set to 8-5 before the first technical timeout of the set. Out of the timeout the U.S. posted three points off of a Mexico error, a huge triple block off the arms of Tarantino, White and Christenson followed by an encore block from Tarantino and Christenson. At 11-5 Mexico called a timeout. Patch posted a kill from the right side to keep Olsen back to serve at 12-5. Mexico tossed a floater over the net into a gap and took the ball back at 12-6. Patch found the end line on an attack for point, U.S. Tarantino delivered a one-and-done to a gap in the middle followed by a long serve by White and a long serve by Mexico at 15-8. Patch chose to hit a soft shot over the net and found open space for a kill at 16-9 followed by a Mexico timeout. Each team charted errors to bring the set to 17-10 before Mexico delivered a kill that Ensbury couldn’t get to. From a textbook set off Christenson, Olsen attacked lights-out for a huge kill at 18-12. Petty served into the net and Mexico got the ball back. Patch’s kill-attempt wet long bring Mexico within five at 18-13. White posted his second kill from the left side followed by a double block off of the U.S. at 20-13. A lucky roll down the tape of the net gave Mexico the first point off the timeout. Christenson capitalized on a ball saved by Patch for a one-touch kill at 21-14. A missed block, made up for by Patch and Tarantino on the left side followed by a kill from Patch from the right side brought the set to 23-16. Patch gave the defense no chance with a kill from the right side to give the U.S. set point at 24-17. Mexico delivered a service error to give the U.S. the first set at 25-18.

Mexico posted the first point at the set turn with a kill from the left side. White responded with a kill of his own into open territory in the back row. Petty posted back-to-back kills to bring the U.S. to a 3-1 lead. An over-shot set gave Mexico an easy kill to tie the set at 3’s. Patch came from the right side to give an unanswerable attack before Mexico delivered a bullet of its own to keep the set tied. Both teams alternated points to tie at 5 and 6. White sent a soft touch over the net for a kill to give the U.S. the lead at 7-6. Mexico maintained its composure and tied it back up with an attack off a U.S. block at 7-all. A long rally followed by a non-agreed-upon call from the officials gave Mexico a kill and a one-point lead over the U.S. at 8-7. Patch came out swinging with his seventh and eighth kill to bring the U.S. up by two at 10-8. Mexico continued to swing hard from the left side at 11-10 but lost possession with a service error. Mexico fought through a U.S. double block but Patch made-up for the missed point with another rocket from the right. The U.S. took a 3-point lead at 15-12 but Petty’s attack went long at 15-13. Olsen answered back with kill down the middle of the court at 16-13. The U.S. got the bench fired up with a triple block from Tarantino, White and Christenson followed by a kill from patch to bring the set to 18-13. A service ace from Mexico followed by a service error gave the U.S. the ball at 19-15. Patch took no prisoners on his twelfth kill to bring the U.S. to 20. A service error from Mexico gave the U.S. its 21st point and a four-point cushion. Henchy subbed in at outside and posted his first point and kill at 23-18 before Mexico called a timeout. A wide attack from Mexico gave the U.S. set point at 24-18. A double block from Olsen and Henchy gave the U.S. the 25-18 second-set win over Mexico.

Mexico again got on the board first with a kill before Olsen responded with a big swing from the middle to tie at 1-1. Miscommunication at the net gave Mexico its second point and a one-point lead early in the third set. White and Olsen formed a wall for a solid double block followed by a Mexico hitting error to give the U.S. the 3-2 lead. White posted a single block to shut-down the Mexico attack and force a timeout at 4-2. Each team charted service errors before White took control with a perfectly placed kill at 6-3. Patch and Tarantino posted a double block followed by a Mexico hitting error at 8-3 and the first technical timeout of the set. Tarantino’s block went out of bounds but Henchy responded with a kill at 11-6. Olsen and Henchy got height for a huge block at 12-7. Patch’s attack was stopped by a Mexico double block but Olsen responded with his fifth kill at 13-8. Mexico came from the left side for a kill at 14-10 to try and start some rhythem but a Tarantino rocket left the defense with no answer. Shaw subbed in for Patch at opposite. A missed-U.S. block followed by a wide attack off the swing from White brought the set to 15-12. Shaw delivered a ball that led to an uncontrolled dig that Mexico’s setter could not get to before the timeout at 16-12. Back to back blocks from the U.S. from Tarantino and Henchy and Tarantino and Shaw respectively forced a Mexico timeout at 18-12. Tarantino undershot the serve for an error at 19-14. Shaw’s attack went wide right but a Henchy attack too much for the Mexico libero to handle gave the ball back to the U.S. at 20-15. The U.S. and Mexico then alternated service error’s and Henchy went back to serve for the U.S. at 21-16. Henchy’s second serve came up short but a netted Mexico attack gave the U.S. a 23-17 advantage. White found the open floor to give the U.S. set and match point at 24-18. A fooled block set the U.S. to a second set and match point at 24-19. Third set and match point came from an uncontrolled dig from the U.S. at 24-20. Shaw ended the set and match with a kill at 25-20.

2012 U.S. Men’s Junior National Volleyball Team
# - Name (Position, Hometown, Grad Year, Club, Region, College Status)
3 - Micah Christenson (S, Honolulu, Hawaii, 2011, Outrigger Canoe Club, Aloha, University of Southern California)
4 - Tony Ensbury (L, Manhattan Beach, Calif., 2011, SCVC, Southern California, Princeton University)
5 - Driss Guessous (MB, Pasadena, Calif., 2012, Manhattan Beach Surf, Southern California Signed at Ohio State)
6 - Michael Henchy (OH, Ventura, Calif., 2011, Spectrum VBC, Southern California, Ohio State)
8 - Nick Olson (MB, New Berlin, Wis., 2012, West Allis Lightning, Badger, Signed at University of Chicago-Loyola)
9 - Ben Patch (Opp, Provo, Utah, 2012, Utah Elite, Intermountain, Signed at Brigham Young University)
10 - Greg Petty (OH, Downers Grove, Ill., 2011, Sports Performance, Great Lakes, Lewis University
11 - Scott Rhein (OH, Pleasant View, Tenn., 2011, Impact Volleyball Club, Southern, Pepperdine)
14 - James Shaw (S/Opp, Woodside, Calif., 2012, Mountain View Volleyball Club, Northern California, Signed at Stanford)
16 - Matt Tarantino (Opp, Van Nuys, Calif., 2011, Santa Monica Beach Club, Southern California, Pepperdine)
17 - Matt West (S, Seattle, Wash., 2011, Space Needle Volleyball Foundation, Puget Sound Region, Pepperdine)
18 - DJ White (L/OH, Hermosa Beach, Calif., 2011, Manhattan Beach Surf, Southern California, Harvard)
Head Coach: Peter Hanson
Assistant Coach: Jonah Carson
Assistant Coach: Jay Hosack
Statistician: Jake Schick
Team Leader: Collin Powers

2012 NORCECA Men's Junior Continental Championship Schedule

Pool A

Aug. 27: Mexico def. St. Vincent and the Grenadines 25-7, 25-10, 25-15 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Aug. 27: United States def. Honduras 25-12, 25-12, 25-16 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Aug. 28: Mexico def. Honduras 25-15, 26-24, 25-14 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Aug. 28: United States def. St. Vincent and the Grenadines 25-8, 25-8, 25-9 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Aug. 29: Honduras def. St. Vincent and the Grenadines 25-17, 25-11, 25-20 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Aug. 29: United States def. Mexico 25-18, 25-18, 25-20 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)

Pool B
Aug. 27: Puerto Rico def. Curacao, 27-25, 25-13, 25-23 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Aug. 27: Canada def. Guatemala 25-15, 25-13, 25-21 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Aug. 28: Canada def. Curacao 25-13, 25-7, 25-22 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Aug. 28: Puerto Rico def. Guatemala 25-20, 25-19, 25-20 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Aug. 29: Guatemala def. Curacao 25-14, 23-25, 25-19, 25-18 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Aug. 29: Canada def. Puerto Rico 25-13, 25-15, 28-30, 25-12 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)

Aug. 30: Puerto Rico def. Honduras 25-16, 25-16, 25-11 (Match 13) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Aug. 30: Mexico def. Guatemala 25-23, 25-17, 25-23 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)

Classification 5/8
Aug. 31: Guatemala def. St. Vincent and the Grenadines 25-12, 25-16, 25-16 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Aug. 31: Honduras def. Curacao 25-27, 25-19, 27-25, 25-19 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)

Aug. 31: Canada def. Mexico 25-17, 25-18, 24-26, 25-21 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Aug. 31: United States def. Puerto Rico 25-15, 25-16, 25-20 (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)

Final Classifications
Sept. 1: St. Vincent and the Grenadines vs. Curacao, 11:00 a.m. (7th Place) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Sept. 1: Guatemala vs. Honduras, 1:00 p.m.  (5th Place) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Sept. 1: Mexico vs. Puerto Rico 3:00 p.m. (Bronze) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Sept. 1: Canada vs. United States, 5:30 p.m. (Gold) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)