Men's Junior Volleyball Team Overcomes Puerto Rico

By Becky Murdy | Aug. 31, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

Becky Murdy
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 31, 2012) – The U.S. Men’s Junior National Volleyball Team secured its spot in the 2012 NORCECA Men's Junior Continental Championship (U-21) finals by defeating Puerto Rico 25-15, 25-16, 25-20 in Friday evening’s semifinal match at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Opposite Ben Patch (Provo, Utah) led the U.S. with 16 points off of 13 kills and three blocks. Middle blocker Nick Olsen (New Berlin, Wis.) posted a personL-tournament best 11 points off of eight kills, two blocks and a service ace.

“We really wanted to come out tonight and prove ourselves against this team,” Olsen said. “We were focused on transitioning better and staying focused during plays that haven’t been going our way. We wanted to keep improving and prove that we were the better team.”

With the win the U.S. (4-0), defending tournament champion, secured a spot in Saturday’s finals match against Canada at 5:30 p.m. MT. 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.

“Since we are playing Canada tomorrow we are going to have to focus a lot more on defense,” Olsen said. “Canada is a big physical team like us and the offense will be there. We have played them a few times and it will be a good matchup.

U.S. Men's Junior National Volleyball Team Head Coach Peter Hanson started Greg Petty and D.J. White (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) at outside, Micah Christenson (Honolulu) at setter, and Matt Tarantino (Van Nuys, Calif.) and Olsen at middle blocker, Patch at opposite and Tony Ensbury (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) at libero.

The United States out-served Puerto Rico with a 7-0 ace advantage. The U.S. added an 8-6 block advantage and 45-27 kill margin with a 57.0 kill percent and .380 hitting efficiency.

Petty and Tarantino each posted 10 points. Petty talled eight kills and two service aces while Tarantion had six kills, three blocks and a service ace. White charted six kills for six points and Christenson contributed five points off of three kills and two service aces.

Scott Rhein (Pleasant View, Tenn.) subbed in all three sets and posted a service kill for a point. James Shaw (Woodside, Calif.) saw playing time in the second set and connected on the set-winning kill. Matt West (Seattle, Wash.) and Michael Henchy (Ventura, Calif) both subbed in the third set.

“Congratulations to Puerto Rico for a hard fought match,” United States captain Micah Christenson said. “We were able to serve the ball well, which helped our block defense. Overall, we had a good team effort. We know Canada well as we have played them a lot including at least four scrimmages (in August). We will need to execute our game plan and focus on our side of the net.”

“My congratulations to USA on a great match,” Puerto Rico captain Cristian Rivera said. “Tonight we couldn’t handle USA’s serve. I hope we go home knowing we will be in Turkey in 2013.”

“My congratulations to USA for a great match,” Puerto Rico head coach Ramon Hernandez said. “Puerto Rico is having a hard time passing. Tomorrow we have to pass better and play our best match of the tournament to beat a good Mexican team.”

USA posted the first three points including an ace from Tarantino. Tarantino then served into the net but a kill from Petty gave the U.S. the ball back and a 4-1 lead. A drifted dig from Ensbury gave Puerto Rico the one-over at 4-2. A Puerto Rico service error sent Petty back to serve at 5-2. Patch took a huge swing from the right side for a kill at 6-3. Puerto Rico answered back with a kill down the middle. Patch delivered a soft lob over the net into blank space for a kill at 7-4. Puerto Rico served into the net before the first technical timeout at 8-5. Puerto Rico got within one of the U.S. at 9-8 before a kill from Olsen stopped the run. Patch’s serve went long and Puerto Rico sided out at 10-9. Patch delivered a kill from the right side and Petty’s serve hit the net for an error at 11-10. White shot a bullet into open space for a kill and a two-point U.S. lead at 12-10. A huge set from Christenson on the right side of the net set White up perfectly for a lift-side kill at 13-10. Puerto Rico called a timeout at 14-10. Puerto Rico posted a kill only to be responded to by a rocket off the arm of Petty at 15-11. Starting with a huge dig from Ensbury and ending with Petty’s third kill and a Puerto Rico timeout. Tarantino’s block went wide before he connected on a kill at 18-12. Patch and Tarantino worked together to get the team and stands roaring with a textbook double-block at 19-12. Puerto Rico gave the U.S. its 20th point with a long attack but a cross-court from Patch missed by an inch and Puerto sided out at 20-13. Rhein subbed in for Tarantino and served into the net at 21-14. Olsen connected on a middle set from Christenson to side out at 22-14. Patch’s serve went long and Puerto Rico took the ball at 22-15. Patch attacked through a triple block for a kill followed by a triple block from White, Christenson and Olsen to give the U.S. set point at 24-15. The U.S. took the first set 25-15 after a Puerto Rico attack went long.

Patch stopped a quick 2-0 Puerto Rico lead with a kill from the right side to side out at 2-1. Puerto Rico served into the net but they recovered with a kill to take a 4-2 lead early in the second set. Sparked by a kill from Olsen and back-to-back service aces from Petty, the U.S. went on a 5-0 run over Puerto Rico to take the lead at 7-4. The first technical timeout of the set came at 8-5. Puerto Rico was unable to control Olsen’s serve for point, U.S. at 9-5. Olsen remained serving as Puerto Rico over shot its attack. Patch’s kill-attempt was stopped by the block and Puerto Rico sided out, down by four. A miscommunication for the U.S was made-up for by a kill off the arm of Tarantino. Petty found a gap in Puerto Rico’s block and Patch capitalized on the momentum with a kill off the right side at 14-8. Puerto Rico served long and Patch went back to serve at 15-10. A Puerto Rico attack found open space on the U.S. side of the court for a kill and the U.S. retaliated with the same before the technical timeout at 16-11. Olsen charted his third kill followed by a service error from Petty. Rhein subbed in for Olsen after a kill and Puerto Rico called a timeout at 18-12. The U.S. hit 20 points off of Petty’s fourth kill. Christenson tallied back-to-back aces to give the U.S. a nine-point lead at 22-13. Tarantino and Shaw formed a wall against a Puerto Rico attack and a service change-up from Christenson caught the Puerto Rico defense off guard at 24-13. Puerto Rico went on a 3-0 run before the U.S. called timeout at 24-16. Coming off the timeout Shaw delivered his first kill and gave the U.S. the second set at 25-16.

The U.S and Puerto Rico climbed the scoreboard together up until 3-all. Puerto Rico clocked the fourth point off a U.S. hitting error and Olsen responded with a line drive too much for the Puerto Rico defense to handle. Petty’s first attack went long but he recovered with a kill. A U.S. service error followed by a kill from Olsen gave the U.S. the ball. White’s attack was denied by triple block from Puerto Rico at 7-7. White responded with a kill before a technical timeout at 8-7. Tarantino posted his sixth kill at 10-9 and Puerto Rico tied it up with a kill of their own at 10-10. Patch connected on his 11th kill from the right side followed by a kill from White to bring the set to 14-13. A net call on the U.S. followed by a net call on Puerto Rico brought the set to 17-15. Petty swing for the fences and charted his seventh kill before a Puerto Rico timeout at 18-15. Puerto Rico capitalized on a wide U.S. block followed by a wide attack to gain two points and come within one at 18-17. Puerto Rico tied it up at 18s with a double-block but couldn’t take the lead with a service ace. Rhein subbed into the match for Tarantino at 19-18 and delivered a service ace. Olsen posted a kill at 21-18 before Puerto Rico took a timeout. Rhein was iced by the time and served into the net. Puerto Rico’s attack went long and West subbed in for Patch to serve. Christenson connected for a kill and the U.S. went up 23-19. A missed block by the U.S. brought Puerto Rico to 20. Puerto Rico gave the U.S. set and match point at 24-20. The U.S. secured the final-match spot with a 25-20 finish off a Puerto Rico attack that went long.

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

Schedule and Results

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 a.m. (7th Place) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Sept. 1: Guatemala vs. Honduras, 1 p.m. (5th Place) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Sept. 1: Mexico vs. Puerto Rico, 3 p.m. (Bronze) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)
Sept. 1: Canada vs. United States, 5:30 p.m. (Gold) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)