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U.S. Men's A2 Team Beats Canada in Pan Am Final

June 21, 2009, 1:12 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 20, 2009) – The U.S. Men’s A2 Team defended its Pan American Cup title on Saturday with a 3-2 (32-30 , 16-25, 24-26, 25-17, 15-12) victory over Canada in the gold medal match in Chiapas, Mexico.

Dean Bittner (Lakewood, Calif.) led the United States in scoring with 30 points on 27 kills, one block and two aces. Bittner converted 57 percent of his attack attempts into points. Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) added 16 points on 10 kills, five blocks and one ace.

Robert Tarr (Cape Canaveral, Fla.) scored 14 points on 13 kills and one ace. Nate Meerstein (La Porte City, Iowa) scored 12 on nine kills and three blocks.

“I think that the team didn’t get desperate after being down 2-1,” U.S. Head Coach Rick McLaughlin said in a NORCECA press release. “We could adjust our quick game and the blocking at the corners. We are very happy with this victory in the start of the year for our program.”

The Canadian team dominated the blocking 18-9 but most of them were in the first three sets. The United States converted 52 percent of its attack attempts as opposed to 46 percent for Canada.

Gavin Smith led Canada with 22 points, Justin Duff and Adam Simac each had 14 and Steve Gotch and Toontje van Lankvelt had 11 and 10 points respectively.

Among other U.S. scorers, Matt McKinney (Santa Ynez, Calif.) scored six points on five kills and one ace. Nils Nielsen (Fallbrook, Calif.) scored six points on six kills. Tyler Hildebrand (Mesa, Ariz.) scored two points on two kills.

McLaughlin started McKinney and Tarr at outside hitter, Holt and Meerstein at middle blocker, Bittner at opposite, Hildebrand at setter and Isaac Kneubuhl at libero.

Eric Vance (Camarillo, Calif.), Nielsen, at Dustin Watten (Long Beach State) all played as substitutes.

The first set saw the U.S. Men fall behind 12-17. But a 5-0 run, including a kill and ace by Bittner, tied the score at 17-17. Team USA reached set point first at 24-23, but Canada tied it up again. Canada would reach set point four times and the United States would reach it three more times before finally gaining the 32-30 victory.

The second set saw the U.S. Men fall behind quickly and trailing 4-8 at the first technical timeout (TO). Canada increased its lead to 16-7 at the second TTO and never looked back.

McLaughlin had substituted Nielsen for McKinney in the second set and Nielsen stayed in to start the rest of the match.

The third set was much tighter and the U.S. Men led 8-7 at the first TTO. Canada reached set point first at 24-23, but a Nielsen kill tied the score. Canada’s kill gave it the 25-24 lead and a block by Gavin Schmitt gave the Canucks the victory.

Despite being down 2-1, Team USA did not back down and raced to an 11-2 lead in the fourth set. Bittner was responsible for five of the 11 points.

Canada worked to whittle away at the lead and eventually cut it to four points at 17-13. But the U.S. Men scored three straight points on two Canada errors and a Holt block to increase the lead to 20-13. Canada went on a 3-0 run to make it 20-16, but Team USA had another 3-0 run to put the victory out of reach for Canada.

The tie-breaker score was tied 6-6 when a U.S. three-point run, including two kills by Bittner,  put Team USA ahead 9-6. Canada never got closer than three points.

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

Final Standings: 1. USA, 2. Canada, 3. Dominican Republic, 4. Puerto Rico, 5. Mexico, 6, Guatemala, 7.Panama

Pool Play

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
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
Canada def. Guatemala, 25-14, 25-16, 25-19
Dominican Republic def. Mexico, 25-21, 25-19, 25-23

Classification 5 – June 19
Mexico def. Guatemala, 25-18, 25-19, 17-25, 25-15

Semifinals – June 19
USA def. Dominican Republic, 25-21, 25-23, 25-14
Canada def. Puerto Rico, 25-18, 24-26, 25-21, 27-25

June 20
6-7 Classification
Guatemala def. Panama, 25-21, 16-25, 25-23, 17-25, 15-9.

Third place
Dominican Republic def. Puerto Rico, 25-20, 20-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-10

USA def. Canada, 32-30, 16-25, 24-26, 25-17, 15-12