U.S. Men's Jr. Volleyball Team Claims NORCECA Gold

By Becky Murdy | Sept. 01, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

Becky Murdy
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 1, 2012) – The U.S. Men’s Junior (U-21) National Volleyball Team claimed the 2012 NORCECA Men's Junior Continental Championship (U-21) gold medal after edging Canada, 26-24, 25-17, 23-25, 21-25 on Saturday evening at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. 

The United States has now won the tournament’s gold medal for the second straight time having defeated Canada in the last edition of the biennial tournament held in 2010. The Americans have now medaled in all eight editions of the tournament, including two silver medals and four bronze medals. 

The U.S. claimed three individual awards including Most Valuable Player earned by Ben Patch (Provo, Utah), Best Server earned by Greg Petty  (Downers Grove, Ill.) and Best Setter earned by Micah Christenson (Honolulu). 

“This is a total honor,” Patch said. “I don’t think it’s about one valuable person for our team. No one person can excel without great setters and great passers. It was a team effort out there tonight.”

Patch helped the United States defend its title of the biennial NORCECA Men’s Junior Continental Championship with 19 points in the gold-medal match against Canada. He finished the tournament with 55 total points, including 47 kills, seven blocks and an ace. Patch ranked fifth in Best Spiker with a 48.45 kill percent on 97 attempts.

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

Patch led the U.S. with 19 points off of a tournament-high 18 kills and a service ace. Olsen posted 15 points off of 11 kills and four blocks, while Petty connected on 11 kills and a service ace for 12 points.

Tarantino charted eight kills and a block for nine points and White delivered nine kills for nine points. Christenson posted four kills and two blocks for six points.

Scott Rhein (Pleasant View, Tenn.) subbed in all four matches and tallied a service ace for the U.S. Michael Henchy (Ventura, Calif) entered in the third and fourth sets and posted two service aces. Matt West (Seattle, Wash.) subbed in the second set, while James Shaw (Woodside, Calif.) saw playing time in the third and fourth sets.

Team USA posted a 61-49 margin in kills and 5-1 ace advantage. The Americans converted 52.6 percent of its attacks for points with a .362 hitting efficiency. Canada produced a 10-7 margin in blocks to go with a 44.1 kill percent and .261 hitting efficiency.

Earlier in the evening Mexico defeated Puerto Rico in three sets to claim the bronze medal and the final spot to the 2013 NORCECA Men’s Junior World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.

“First off I want to say Canada played a great match today,” United States captain Micah Christenson said. “They forced us to play our best match of the tournament and forced us to pick up our game. Our entire staff, all the way down to Jake (Schick) doing stats, it was a whole group effort winning the tournament.”

“First, on behalf of USA Volleyball, congratulations to Canada for a great match and tournament,” United States coach Peter Hanson said. “They came in to Colorado Springs early and trained and scrimmaged us. That really helped our team prepare for the tournament, and I hope it helped them as well. Our guys did a great job executing the game plan tonight. And last, I want to say it has been a wonderful experience here at the United States Olympic Training Center, and I appreciate them hosting the tournament here.”

“USA was great today and Coach (Peter) Hanson and his staff did a great job preparing his team as always,” Canada head coach David Preston said. “Our guys did well today, and the players coming off the bench provided a lift. We came up a little short – not because of a lack of effort but more of what the USA did. Canadian volleyball made a big step forward today because of these 12 guys on the court. I want to thank the U.S. Olympic Training Center, its staff and USA Volleyball for the great hospitality throughout our stay here.”

“I want to congratulate the United States for the win – they played great,” Canadian captain Milan Nikic said. “They stopped our middle attack and put us into bad spots.”

Canada posted the first two points of the match but a service error gave the U.S. a point and the ball at 2-1. White couldn’t reach an attack placement and Canada took a 3-1 lead. Patch swung for the fences from the right hitting nothing but gym floor to give the U.S. a point at 3-2. Olsen connected on a short set to bring the U.S. within one at 4-3. Patch’s service ace brought the teams to 4-all and a triple block from Olsen, Petty and Christenson gave the U.S. its first lead of the set and match. Patch overshot the serve and Canada chalked a kill to bring the set to 6-5, Canada. A foot set by Canada didn’t through Olsen off as he clocked a kill to tie the set at 6-6. A Petty service error followed by a net call on Canada kept the score tied. Tarantino blocked a Canada attack to give the U.S. an 8-7 lead at the first technical timeout. Olsen was iced during the timeout and served into the net. White came flying from the left side to post his first kill of the set, 9-8. Patch delivered a bullet through a double block to give the U.S. a 10-9 lead. A perfect set my Christenson followed by a kill by Tarantino gave the U.S. a two-point lead at 11-9. Tarantino connected on a kill in the middle followed by a light touch by Patch for the kill and a 13-10 lead. Petty posted his first kill of the set at 14-11 but went wide on his second attempt bringing Canada within one at 14-13. Patch called for the ball from the right side and delivered on his promise, clocking his third kill of the set. Petty served into the net and Canada took the ball at 15-14 before White shot a rocket into open space. Patch got air on his third attack for a kill off of the timeout at 17-14. A net call violation by USA followed by a service error from Canada and a service error from the USA brought the set score to 18-16. Patch connected on a left-side set for a kill followed by a kill from Canada, 19-17. Petty’s attack found Canadian hands at 20-18. Petty’s block went out of bounds but a kill from Olsen brought the U.S. to 21-19. Patch served into the net but Olsen connected for a kill at 22-20. Canada called timeout after Petty tallied a service ace brought the U.S. to a 23-20 lead. A kill from Canada followed by a netted set from the U.S. brought the set to 23-22, timeout USA. Patch gave the U.S. its first set-point with a kill from the right side, 24-22. Even after running to the court's edge, Patch couldn’t reach the ball, point Canada. White’s attack was blocked by Canada to tie the set at 24-24. A huge kill from Patch on the right side gave the U.S. its third set point. Canada attacked into the net to give the U.S. the first set at 26-24.

The U.S. started the second with a 3-1 run off a kill from patch and back-to-back kills from Petty. Olsen and Christenson denied a Canada attack at 4-1. Patch graced the inside of the line on an attack for a kill and point, USA. Canada called a timeout training the U.S. 5-1. Patch’s service change-up came up short and Canada sided out at 6-2. Canada tipped a Petty attack for point, USA at 7-2. After a service error from Petty, Olsen recovered with a kill from the middle at 8-3 to lead into the first technical timeout of the set. Patch rallied back and forth with kills from Canada, charting two of his own to give the U.S. a five-point lead at 10-5. Canada served into the net put made up for it with a kill to bring the set to 11-7, USA. Canada posted a service ace followed by a kill to close the gap to three points at 11-9. Olsen jumped out of the gym for back-to-back blocks for the U.S. to bring the lead to 14-9, Canada timeout. Canada’s attack went wide and the U.S. went up 15-9. Patch served into the net and Petty’s attack went long to bring the set to 15-11. Petty snuck his way through a Canadian double block before the second technical timeout of the set, 16-11. Canada connected for a kill in which White responded with his third kill at 17-12. White quieted the Canadian side with a kill at 18-13. A net violation called on Canada followed by Patch’s 11th kill gave the U.S. a 7-point cushion at 20-13. A 3-1 run gave the U.S. a 23-16 lead with two kills from Tarantino. Patch swung lights out from the right side for a kill and the U.S. first set-point at 24-16. West hit the net on a service ace but a hard-driven attack from Christenson ended the set with the U.S. winning, 25-17.

Canada charted the first two points before chalking a service error at 2-1. Petty answered back to a Canada kill with his sixth kill to side out for the U.S. A hard attack from Canada gave the team a 2-point lead at 4-2. Olsen closed the Canada lead by one with a kill from the middle. Canada again, used a big swing but a kill from Petty brought their lead back to one at 5-4. Patch posted his first kill of the set at 6-5, Canada. Christenson and Tarantino teamed up for a double block at 6-7, Canada. Heading into the timeout Canada took a 2-point lead with its 27th kill of the match. White connected on the right side for a kill and a wide Canada attack brought the set to 8-all. The U.S. took its first lead at 9-8 and the U.S. maintained the momentum with a point off the Canada block. Ensbury attempted to dig off of his foot but the ball went long. Canada stopped Patch’s attack and died the set up at 10-all. Tarantino delivered on the short set for point, USA but Canada attacked on the second ball for a kill, 11-11. Canada posted a service ace and Olsen capitalized on an overpass for kill and point, USA. Petty’s attack went long and Canada got within one at 13-12. Petty served into the net to give Canada the point and a tie set at 14-14. Miscommunication by Canada was made-up for by a kill, again tying the set. White’s attack went wide for a Canada lead at 16-15. Canada took a 2-point lead with a kill but White used a block’s deflection for a kill to bring the U.S. within one at 17-16. Canada snuck past a U.S. double block and Patch capitalized on an early Canada block for his 14th kill. A Canada attack got between the U.S. block and the net for point, Canada. The block couldn’t contain Patch’s attack and the U.S. came within one at 19-18. Canada found open floor and reached 20 with a 2-point lead over the U.S. Patch’s block went out of bounds and the U.S. called a timeout at 21-18. Patch’s attack was blocked by Canada for point, Canada. Canada served long and the U.S. sided out at 22-19. Olsen responded to a Canada kill with a kill of his own at 23-20. White tallied his sixth kill before a Canadian timeout at 23-21, Canada. Olsen got the Americans within one late in the third with a kill at 23-22, Canada. Canada got set-point from a service error from Henchy at 24-22. Canada kept it interesting with its own service error, 24-23. A Canada kill gave them the set at 25-23 over the U.S.

Lucky block placement followed by a long attack from Patch gave Canada its first two points of the fourth set. Building on momentum, Canada posted a rocket for a kill followed by a successful double block for its fourth unanswered point. Canada gave the U.S. its first point of the set with a service error at 4-1. Henchy subbed in for the U.S. and delivered back-to-back service aces to bring the U.S. within one at 4-3. Henchy over-shop his third serve for an error, Canada 5-3. A kill from Petty followed by a kill from Olsen tied the set at 5-5. Canada sided out with a kill and maintained its lead at 6-5. Another service error gave the U.S. the ball on even field, 6-6. Christenson, Olsen and Petty teamed up for a successful triple block, USA. Shaw served into the net for an error and the teams met at 7-all. Christenson delivered a quick one-over for a kill at 8-7 before the first technical timeout of the set. Canada returned to the floor with a kill followed by a service error giving the U.S. the lead at 9-8. The U.S. continued to struggle with the attack from Canada and a kill tied the set at 9-all. Christenson again, capitalized on an overpass from Canada for a kill land point, USA. The U.S. block sailed out of bounds and the teams met at 10. Tarantino swung hard for his fourth kill of the match but Shaw’s attack went wide for even points and an even set, 11-11. Canada found a gap in the U.S. triple block to take the lead at 12-11 but Tarantino stopped them will a kill from the middle. Both teams rallied with incredible defense for the 13th point but Canada had the last word when the U.S. block went wide. Christenson set a low ball to Olsen for a kill but Canada answered back with a shot down the middle to open floor to maintain the lead at 14-13. Canada and the U.S. exchanged service errors to bring the set to 15-14, Canada. The U.S. tied it up at 15 and a rocket-serve from set-sub, Rhein led to a timeout and the lead at 16-15. Rhein over-shot his landing on the serve for point, Canada and a tie game. Canada hit the net on the serve and the U.S. took the lead at 17-16. Canada secured its 17th point on an over-pass kill. The U.S. set the Canadian defense scrambling taking the point, 18-17. Canada tied the set with a kill from the right side but a kill from Tarantino gave the U.S. the lead at 19-18. Petty charted back-to-back kills to give the U.S. momentum and the lead at 21-19 before Canada called a timeout. Canada’s attack went long and the U.S. took a 3-point lead at 22-19. A confused Canadian team couldn’t get the ball over the net from Patch’s serve giving the U.S. a 23-19 lead. Timeout Canada. The U.S. reached set-match point at 24-19 but Canada found a gap in the U.S. triple block to bring the set to 24-20. A double block from Canada sent patch’s attack backward for point, Canada and the third set-match point for the U.S. And with the one, two, three Petty posted his seventh kill to give the U.S. set and match, 25-21.

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

Individual Awards
MVP: Benjamin Patch (United States) – 55 points scored for eighth-best, 48.45 kill percent for fifth-best spiker
Best Scorer: Gerardo Gonzalez (Guatemala) – 107 points with 99 kills, 4 blocks, 4 aces
Best Spiker: Dany Demyanenko (Canada) – 68.06 success percent with 49 kills on 72 total attempts
Best Blocker: Alexander William Russell (Canada) – 0.89 block average per set with 16 blocks on 39 block attempts
Best Server: Gregory Petty (United States) – 0.50 service ace average per set with 8 aces on 44 service attempts
Best Digger: Jose Mendoza (Mexico) – 3.53 digs average per set with 67 digs on 106 dig attempts
Best Setter: Micah Christenson (United States) – 5.44 running sets average per set with 87 running sets on 254 total attempts
Best Receiver: Luis Bertran (Puerto Rico) – 92.78 efficiency percent with 90 excellents on 97 attempts
Best Libero: Jose Mendoza (Mexico) – 8.42 average per set with 160 excellents on 223 attempts

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: 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 def. Canada 26-24, 25-17, 23-25, 25-21 (Gold) (Live Stats - Final Stats - Photos)