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Venezuela Vaults Past Team USA

By B.J. Evans | Aug. 12, 2015, 11 p.m. (ET)

RENO, Nev. (Aug. 12, 2015) – Venezuela has its eyes on Olympic qualification and it showed on Wednesday as it defeated the U.S. Men’s Team, 20-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-18 in a Pan American Cup pool play match at the Reno Events Center.

Pool play will continue on Thursday when the United States (0-1) will face Mexico (0-1) at 7 p.m. PT and Venezuela (1-0) will take on Argentina (1-0) at 3 p.m.

Although Venezuela arrived in Reno late the night before the match, it showed little signs of fatigue except perhaps for a slow start. Unlike most teams at the Pan Am Cup, Venezuela brought its top players and it showed.

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“We’re trying to find a rhythm since it’s been a while since we’ve played,” Venezuela Head Coach Nacci Vicenzo said. “Our main goal is Olympic classification and we need to play against tough teams to get better. It’s very important to start playing matches now since we’ve been training a lot and I want us to play a lot. The big dream is the Olympics.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. team includes seven players who are still in college; something Head Coach Jeff Nygaard could see in their play.Pan Am Cup

“I felt we were timid,” he said. “We have a lot of guys that aren’t seasoned at this level yet. We’re in this environment and the maturation process has to be quick. Any moment of hesitation is costly because we’re playing against some good competition who are more seasoned and have played at a higher level internationally.”

Venezuela led in spikes (48-38) and aces (7-6). Its hitting efficiency was .286 while the U.S. hit .200.

The U.S. led in blocks (10-6).

Venezuela opposite Kervin Pinerua led all scorers with 15 points on a match-high 13 spikes and two aces. Middle blocker Ivan Maquez added 12 points on eight spikes, one block and a match-high three aces. Middle blocker Jonathan Quijada had a match-high four blocks for Venezuela.

The United States was led by outside hitter AJ Nally, who finished with 13 points on nine spikes, two blocks and two aces.

“The problem tonight was inconsistency,” Nally said. “You could tell we played really well some points and then died off and got quiet as soon as they made a play. We’re going to come back hard tomorrow. We just need to get a good mentality going; just a little more fight.”

Wednesday’s Starters
Outside hitter: AJ Nally and Cody Kessel
Middle blocker: Bobby Walsh and Andy Benesh
Setter: Graham McIlvaine
Opposite: Kyle Russell
Libero: Michael Brinkley

Wednesday’s Statistics
Kills: Russell 10, Nally 9, Kessel 7, Walsh 3, Benesh 3, Patch 2, McIlvaine 1, Jendryk 1
Blocks: Benesh 2, McIlvaine 2, Nally 2, Walsh 2, Russell 2
Aces: Nally 2, Langlois 1, McIlvaine 1, Kessel 1, Walsh 1
Digs: Brinkley 13, Kessel 8, McIlvaine 6, Nally 5, Russell 2, Benesh 1, Langlois 1, Patch 1, Seif 1

2015 Pan American Cup

U.S. Men’s Roster

1 Cody Kessel (OH/Opp, 6-5, Colorado Springs, Colo., Princeton)
2 Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
3 Andy Benesh (MB, 6-8, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Southern California)
5 Michael Brinkley (L, 5-10, Huntington Beach, Calif., UC Irvine)
8 Jake Langlois (OH, 6-10, San Jose, Calif., BYU)
9 Graham McIlvaine (S, 6-6, Hinsdale, Ill., Ball State)
19 AJ Nally (OH, 6-5, Rochester, N.Y., Springfield College)
20 Bobby Walsh (MB, 6-8, Chicago, Ill., Lewis)
21 Ben Patch (Opp, 6-8, Provo, Utah, BYU)
22 Jonah Seif (S, 6-6, Thousand Oaks, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
23 Greg Petty (OH, 6-5, Downers Grove, Ill., Lewis)
24 Kyle Russell (OH, 6-9, Loomis, Calif., UC Irvine)

Head Coach: Jeff Nygaard (USC men's head coach)
Assistant Coach: Colin McMillan (Penn State men's assistant coach)
Assistant Coach: Nils Nielsen (UCLA men's assistant coach)
Technical Coordinator: Jordan Cheng (Pepperdine)
Physiotherapist: Berangere Dwyer

2015 Pan American Cup Schedule

Aug. 12 (pool play)
Argentina def Mexico, 25-22, 25-18, 20-25, 25-15
Brazil def  Dominican Republic, 25-19, 25-21, 25-22
Canada def Puerto Rico, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19
Venezuela def USA, 20-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-18

Aug. 13 (pool play)
1 p.m. Canada v Dominican Republic
3 p.m. Venezuela v Argentina
5 p.m. Puerto Rico v Brazil
7 p.m. USA v Mexico

Aug. 14 (pool play)
1 p.m. Dominican Republic v Puerto Rico
3 p.m. Mexico v Venezuela
5 p.m. Brazil v Canada
7 p.m. USA v Argentina

Aug. 15 (quarterfinals)
5 p.m. 2nd A v 3rd B
7 p.m. 2nd B v 3rd A

Aug. 16
1 p.m. Classification 5/8
3 p.m. Classification 5/8
5 p.m. Semifinal
7 p.m. Semifinal

Aug. 17
1 p.m. Classification 7/8
3 p.m. Classification 5/6
5 p.m. Bronze medal
7 p.m. Gold medal
Awards ceremony immediately following gold medal match