COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 1, 2012) – As the 2012 NORCECA Men’s Junior Continental Championship comes to a close in Colorado Springs, Colo., four of the U.S. Men’s Junior National Volleyball Team (MJNT) players will be making their collegiate volleyball debut.
For incoming freshman Nick Olson (New Berlin, Wis.), Ben Patch (Provo, Utah), James Shaw (Woodside, Calif.) and Driss Guessous (Pasadena, Calif.) 2012 will mark their first season playing for their colleges.
Patch, an opposite hitter on the MJNT, will be heading to Brigham Young University.
After spending the past three weeks training and competing with the MJNT, he feels he is ready to step into the college-volleyball world.
“The international level we have been playing at transcends into the college level,” Patch said. “Training with this group of guys will make the transition easier because it is such a high level, whereas going into college with just high school experience would be a lot harder.”
Going into his first season, Patch also feels his approach to the game has changed for the better.
“I have learned how to take an international swing,” Patch said. “The exposure of playing international volleyball has made me take a new approach to my game, increasing energy and altering how I play.”
Shaw, another opposite hitter on the MJNT, also feels that competing with the MJNT has been essential in preparing him for his volleyball career at Stanford.
“It is hard to tell right now how we will fit into our college programs,” Shaw said. “Because the reality is we aren’t actually there yet. This experience has definitely given us a leg up. We have been touching the ball all summer and gotten this high level of training and exposure. Not many other guys had that this summer.”
Before competing with the MJNT, Shaw had never played the opposite hitter position. Learning how to succeed in the role gave him confidence as he approaches his freshman season at Stanford.
“I have learned how to make adjustments at this level of play,” Shaw said. “Coming into this I had no idea what I would be playing. This experience (playing opposite) has given me the confidence that I can still succeed even if I have to make an adjustment."
Adjustment is something that Olson, a middle blocker on the MJNT, also feels will contribute to making the transition to college volleyball at Loyola University-Chicago a little bit smoother.
“Getting to compete at this level will be helpful,” Olson said. “Going into college will be a smoother transition now because we have experienced a little bit of what it could be like.”
As Olson prepares to step into his new program, he has a fresh mentality on what it takes to succeed at the next level.
“At this level, everyone is a good and physical player,” Olson said. “It is the mentality that makes the difference. By training with the MJNT I learned how to communicate with my teammates about what I am doing during the game and in general. I think that will make a difference in my game.”
Guessous, another middle blocker on the MJNT, heads to Ohio State in the fall. A fresh face on the USA Volleyball pipeline, the NORCECA event marked his first experience with international competition.
“Playing here at this accelerated level has helped me prepare for college,” Guessous said, “The speed of the game is a lot faster. That is something that I am now already used to and will not have to spend time adjusting to once I get to Ohio State.”
Guessous also pinpointed another aspect of the experience that will help him adjust better to competing with his new Ohio State teammates.
“This (MJNT) is a new group of people,” Guessous said. “I have been used to playing with the same guys. Going into college, there will be all new people I am playing with, too. This team has gotten me ready for that and how to work and do well in a new team with different dynamics than what I am used to.”
And while all four players have selected aspiring volleyball programs, their college choice was centered around more than just athletics.
“It’s Stanford,” Shaw said. “My grandpa went to graduate school there. My mom received her undergrad from there. My dad has coached men’s and women’s volleyball there for 27 years. The combination of top-flight academics and their aspiring volleyball program along with my family history there made it the place for me.”
Patch also looked for more than volleyball when making his decision to enroll at BYU.
“The cultural environment drew me,” Patch said. “I just love the mission of the school and the mission of the volleyball program. It offered me the opportunity to go the direction I want both educationally and athletically.”
Guessous feels that Ohio State can offer him a place to find his calling both on the court and off.
“It has been established as a great volleyball program,” Guessous said. “I committed the year they won the national championship, which was awesome. I will have my niche in the volleyball world, but also on campus. It is a big school but it gives a lot of opportunities.”
While volleyball factored into Olson’s decision, academics and location also played a role in his commitment to Loyola.
“It is a Midwest school,” Olson said. “It is just a team on the up-rise, both on the court and academically. It is growing and they are constructing new buildings and it will just be an exciting place to be. They also have a new coaching staff that is looking to make their mark on the volleyball community.”
On Sunday morning, the athletes will leave Colorado Springs and embark on a new and exciting journey in hopes that their recent volleyball experience will make their transition to college life a little bit smoother.
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
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)
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)
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)
Sept. 1: Curacao def. St. Vincent and the Grenadines 25-11, 25-16, 25-19 (7th Place) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Sept. 1: Guatemala def. Honduras 25-18, 20-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-9 (5th Place) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Sept. 1: Mexico def. Puerto Rico 25-12, 25-21, 25-16 (Bronze) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Sept. 1: United States vs. Canada, 17:30 p.m. (Gold) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)