Men's Junior National Team Finishes 11th at World Championship

By Kate Yeazel | Sept. 21, 2015, 1:59 a.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 20, 2015) – The U.S. Men’s Junior National Team took 11th place at the 2015 FIVB Men’s U21 World Championship after a five-set victory over Iran, 25-18, 25-18, 21-25, 12-25, 15-10 on Sunday in Mexicali.

The U.S. will take 11th for the second consecutive World Championship, as the team took home the same finish in 2013. The best-ever finish for the MJNT was 4th place in 2011.

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The team finished 4-4 overall after going 0-3 in an extremely tough initial pool of Russia, Argentina, Poland, and the USA. Russia went on to win the 2015 World Championship title over Argentina in the gold medal match and Poland took the title of the consolation bracket, proving just how tough the first round competition was.

In the second bout with Iran, the U.S. outplayed the Iranian team in nearly every category. The MJNT had 49 kills, a tournament-high 14 blocks, five aces, and 49 digs to Iran’s 45 kills, eight blocks, one ace, and 50 digs.

It was an exciting five-set match, and Head Coach Dan Friend is glad to have ended the tournament on a positive note.

“I thought the guys really fought and came out well in games one and two,” Friend said. “Iran came out and recovered and we kind of got knocked back a little bit, but the guys were great in game five. They really came out and pushed on the gas. It was a good team effort to finish the tournament with a win and get 11th place with a .500 record. I know the guys had a great experience being a part of USA Volleyball.”

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It was a balanced effort for Team USA, as nearly every player scored points for the MJNT. Team captain JT Hatch (Mesa, Ariz.) had a team-high 14 points on 12 kills, one block, and one ace. He had 10 excellent receptions. He hit for a 44.44 hitting efficiency, a team-high.

Colby Harriman (Rochester, N.Y.) recorded 12 points for Team USA, 10 kills, one block, and one ace with a 38.46 hitting efficiency. Middle blocker Andy Benesh (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) capped off a successful tournament with nine points on four kills and five blocks, averaging 1.00 block per set.

In four sets, Kupono Fey (Holonulu, Hawaii) registered eight points via seven kills and one ace. He also had 18 excellent receptions for a 75.00 efficiency and a team-high nine digs. Chris Nugent (Fair Lawn, N.J.) had six kills over three sets.

Middle blocker Matt Walsh (Chicago, Ill.) made his starting debut, with six points on four kills and two blocks in three sets. Ricky Gevis (Naperville, Ill.) was substituted in and notched five points in just one set.

Setter Jennings Franciskovic (Westlake Village, Calif.) also made his starting debut, with three points. Soren Dion-Kindem (Agoura Hills, Calif.) also had three points, while Jeff Jendryk (Wheaton, Ill.) had two.

Libero Hayden Boehle (Westchester, Calif.) had eight excellent receptions and eight digs, averaging 1.60 per set.

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The team began the match with a different line-up, but the team still did well according to Benesh.

“I thought we started off really strong,” Benesh said. “We were playing really well with a different lineup in and everyone was meshing – I thought that was really good. We trailed off in the third set and the fourth set kind of got away from us, but I thought we responded really well. We had a lot of fun in the fifth set, which was our last set together and we ended up having a lot of fun.”

Final Standings
1. Russia
2. Argentina
3. China
4. Brazil
5. Italy
6. Turkey
7. Slovenia
8. Canada
9. Poland
10. France
11. USA
12. Iran
13. Cuba
14. Japan
15. Egypt
16. Mexico

# - Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College, USAV Region)
1 - Andy Benesh (MB, 6-8, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Southern California, SCVA)
2 - Hayden Boehle (L, 6-1, Westchester, Calif., UCSB, SCVA)
3 - Soren Dion-Kindem (S, 6-3, Agoura Hills, Calif., Pepperdine, SCVA)
4 - Kupono Fey (OH, 6-5, Honolulu, Hawaii, University of Hawaii, Aloha)
5 - Jennings Franciskovic (S, 6-5, Westlake Village, Calif., University of Hawaii, SCVA)
6 - Ricky Gevis (Opp, 6-11, Naperville, Ill., Loyola of Chicago, Great Lakes)
7 - JT Hatch (OH, 6-2, Mesa, Ariz., UCLA, Arizona)
8 - Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago, Great Lakes)
9 - Chris Nugent (OH, 6-5, Fair Lawn, N.J., Penn State, GEVA)
10 - Mitch Perinar (Opp, 6-7, Channahon, Ill., Lewis, Great Lakes)
12 - Matt Walsh (MB, 6-11, Chicago, Ill., Ball State, Great Lakes)
13 - Colby Harriman (OH, 6-4, Rochester, N.Y., Pepperdine, Western Empire)

Staff
Head Coach – Dan Friend Dan (Joliet, Ill., Lewis)
Asst. Coach – Jay Hosack (Pleasant Gap, Pa., George Mason)
Asst. Coach – Sam Shweisky (Princeton, N.J., Princeton)
Technical Coordinator – Kyle Homeyer (Kirkwood, Mo., Ohio State)
Team Manager – Cecile Reynaud
Team Therapist – Kristine Jespersen

2015 FIVB Men’s U21 World Championship Schedule (All times ET)

Pool B
9/11 – Argentina def. U.S., 25-21, 25-23, 21-25, 22-25, 15-10
9/12 – Poland def. U.S., 25-22, 25-19, 25-14
9/13 – Russia def. U.S., 25-17, 25-17, 25-15

9-16 Classification – Pool G
9/15 – U.S. def. Iran, 25-19, 21-25, 25-22, 24-26, 16-14
9/16 – U.S. def. Mexico, 25-23, 25-17, 25-17
9/17 – U.S. def. Japan, 25-23, 17-25, 25-20, 25-23

9-12 Classification – Finals
9/19 – France def. U.S., 25-22, 25-20, 16-25, 25-21
9/20 – U.S. def. Iran, 25-18. 25-18, 21-25, 12-25, 15-10.