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U.S. Men's A2 Team Defeats Canada at Pan Am Cup

June 18, 2009, 1:21 a.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: (719) 228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org

ANAHEIM, Calif. (June 17, 2009) – The U.S. Men’s A2 National Team out-hit and out-served Canada on Wednesday to take a 3-2 (25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 24-26, 15-13) victory at the Pan American Cup in Chiapas, Mexico.

With the victory, the U.S. Men win Group A with a 2-0 record and will get a day of rest on Thursday while the quarterfinals are played. Puerto Rico won the other group with a 3-0 record and has also advanced to the semifinals.

Robert Tarr (Cape Canaveral, Fla.) led all scorers on Wednesday with 22 points on 21 kills and one block. Dean Bittner (Lakewood, Calif.) added 17 points on 11 kills, three blocks and three aces. Nils Nielsen (Fallbrook, Calif.) was just behind with 16 points on 14 kills, one block and one ace.

Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) tallied 13 points on 11 kills, one block and one ace and Nate Meerstein (La Porte City, Iowa) scored 12 points on nine kills, two blocks and one ace.

“It was a good game, well fought,” U.S. Head Coach Rick McLaughlin said in a NORCECA press release. “I feel happy with this victory, which sends us to the semifinals and give us the chance to continue watching our potential opponents.”

Gavin Smith and Toontje Van Lankvelt recorded 18 and 17 points for Canada. Adam Simac added 14 and Steve Gotch had 12.

McLaughlin started Tarr and Nielsen at outside hitter, Holt and Meerstein at middle blocker, Bittner at opposite, Brian Thornton (San Clemente, Calif.) at setter and Dustin Watten (Long Beach, Calif.) at libero.

Eric Vance (Camarillo) substituted and scored one point on an ace. Thornton finished with four points on one kill, two blocks and one ace. Watten had 30 receptions and was credited with 77 percent positive receptions and 63 percent excellent.

As a team, the United States had eight aces while Canada had two. The U.S. Men also had 67 kills as compared to 56 by Canada. The U.S. Men were credited with 68 percent positive receptions and 59 percent excellent. Canada had 55 percent positive receptions and 48 percent excellent.

The first set was tight with Canada holding an 8-6 lead at the first technical timeout (TTO) before the U.S. Men came back to tie the score at 8-8. With the score tied 15-15, Team USA reached the second TTO first on Canada’s error. The U.S. Men took a two-point lead on a Meerstein block, and then went up by three on another Canada error to make it 18-15.

However, Canada came back to tie the score again at 20-20 and then again at 21-21. Nielsen responded with two straight kills to give Team USA a 23-21 lead. Canada’s kill made it 23-22, but a kill and an ace from Holt gave the U.S. Men the set win.

The United States took a 2-0 lead to open the second set and took an 8-6 lead into the first TTO. The United States maintained the lead and extended it to 16-13 at the second TTO. However Canada did not back down and with Team USA leading 19-16, Canada scored three straight points on two kills and a block to tie the score. A serving error stopped the rally, but a U.S. serving error tied the score and Canada took its first lead of the set on a block. Canada led 22-20 on a second block.

The United States tied the score on kills by Holt and Meerstein, but Canada scored the final three points on a kill, a U.S. error and a block.

The U.S. Men led 8-7 at the first TTO of the third set, but came out of the break and scored three straight points, including an ace by Thornton, to lead 11-7. Later, with the U.S. Men leading 14-11, they scored three more straight points on two kills by Nielsen and an ace by Bittner to lead 17-11. Canada never recovered.

Looking to put the match away, Team USA jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the fourth set, including four points from Bittner on two kills, a block and an ace; and an attack and a block by Nielsen.

The United States extended the lead to seven points at 14-7, but Canada scored three straight points on two kills and a block to keep within striking distance. With the United States leading 17-13, Canada scored three straight points on two U.S. errors and a Canada kill to make it 17-16. A Holt kill made it 18-16, but Canada scored two more points to tie the score for the first time in the set.

The two teams battled back and forth until the score was tied at 22-22. Canada reached set point on two U.S. errors. The U.S. Men came back with two points on Canada’s errors. But Canada took the set victory on a kill and an ace.

The tie-breaker was a nail-biter as neither team gained more than a one-point edge until the score was tied at 12-12. Tarr’s kill gave the U.S. Men a 13-12 lead. Canada took a timeout, but the U.S. Men extended the lead to 14-12 on a Canadian hitting error. Canada took another timeout, and Van Lankvelt’s kill pulled Canada back to within one point. But Tarr ended the matter with a kill.

2009 U.S. Pan American Cup Roster

No. Name (Position, Height, Weight, Hometown, College)

1 Eric Vance (OH, 6-4, 195, Camarillo, Calif., Cal State Northridge)
3 Dean Bittner (Opp, 6-7, 187, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
4 Matt McKinney (OH, 6-9, 225, Santa Ynez, Calif., UCLA)
5 Isaac Kneubuhl (L, 6-1, 190, Pukalani, Hawai'i, Cal State Northridge)
6 Tyler Hildebrand (S, 6-5, 196, Mesa, Ariz., Long Beach State)
7 Robert Tarr (OH, 6-6, 200, Cape Canaveral, Fla., Long Beach State)
8 Nate Meerstein (MB, 6-9, 209, La Porte City, Iowa, Penn State)
9 Nils Nielsen (OH, 6-4, 180, Fallbrook, Calif., Cal State Northridge)
10 Brian Thornton (S, 6-3, 187, San Clemente, Calif., UC Irvine)
11 Max Holt (MB, 6-9, 198, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
14 Austin Zahn (MB, 6-8, 220, Hermosa Beach, Calif., USC)
19 Dustin Watten (L, 6-0, 162, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)

Head Coach: Rick McLaughlin (UC Santa Barbara)
Team Manager: Ken Preston (UC Santa Barbara)
Assistant Coach: Scott Wong (Pepperdine)
Therapist/Trainer: Chris Birch (Penn State)
Team Doctor: Ken Schroeder

Group A Results
June 15: Canada def. Dominican Republic, 15-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-18
June 16: USA def. Dominican Republic, 31-29, 25-19, 25-20
June 17: USA def. Canada, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 24-26, 15-13

Group B Results and Schedule
June 15: Puerto Rico def. Panama, 25-17, 25-14, 25-22
June 15: Mexico def. Guatemala, 25-16, 25-23, 25-17
June 16: Guatemala def. Panama, 25-22, 25-22, 25-18
June 16: Puerto Rico def. Mexico, 33-31, 25-23, 25-21
June 17: Puerto Rico def. Guatemala, 25-14, 25-17, 25-18
June 17: Mexico def. Panama, 25-13 25-18 26-24

Group A Final Standings
USA 2-0
Canada 1-1
Dominican Republic 0-2

Group B Final Standings
Puerto Rico 3-0
Mexico 2-1
Guatemala 1-2
Panama 0-3

Quarterfinals – June 18
Guatemala vs. Canada
Mexico vs. Dominican Republic