Kessel Leads U.S. Men Past Puerto Rico

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | Aug. 22, 2019, 11:30 p.m. (ET)

The U.S. Men's Champions Cup Team

COLORADO SPRINGS, USA, August 22, 2019 – Colorado Springs native Cody Kessel led the U.S. Men to a 25-13, 25-16, 25-15 win over Puerto Rico on Thursday at the NORCECA Champions Cup at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center.

Kessel at outside hitter led the U.S. in scoring with 13 points on 10 attacks, two blocks and one ace.

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The U.S. Men led Puerto Rico in attacks (38-26), blocks (9-3) and aces (6-2). The U.S. scored 22 points on Puerto Rico errors and committed 13.

Outside hitter David Wieczorek and middle blocker Pat Gasman each finished with 10 points. Wieczorek scored on 10 kills. Gasman finished with five blocks, four attacks and one ace.

Opposite Michael Wexter totaled nine points. Middle blocker Nick Amado added seven.

Setter Garret Zolg scored four points including three aces. He set the U.S. Men to a .416 hitting efficiency. Libero Josh Ayzenberg was credited with 15 digs. Kessel had seven.

Gabriel Garcia led Puerto Rico with 13 points on 13 attacks.

STARTERS FOR THE U.S. MEN VS PUERTO RICO
Outside hitters: David Wieczorek and Cody Kessel
MIddle blockers: Pat Gasman and Nick Amado
Opposite: Michael Wexter
Setter: Garrett Zolg
LIbero: Josh Ayzenberg

U.S. Captain Cody Kessel: “I think it showed all the hard work we put in this week as a team. We’re lucky to take advantage of the facilities here at the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center. It’s a testament to the guys and the coaching staff and just how hard we worked this week. It’s a good start and we are looking forward to the battles ahead.”

U.S. Coach Matt Werle: “We talked a lot about serving and passing going into it. I think the first set was a huge highlight of that serving game. Pat Gasman went back there early and set the tone, which was awesome to see. We played pretty clean. I think Garrett Zolg ran a really nice offense. We established the middle of the court early and then went pin-to-pin after that. I think we out-muscled them tonight.”

Puerto Rico Captain Pelegrin Vargas: “I don’t think we fulfilled any of our expectations tonight. It was a rough start. We have a lot of young guys. We’re trying to know each other. We didn’t get many practices together. It’s just a matter of getting better every day; every match, every set, every day.”

Puerto Rico Coach Oswald Antonetti: “USA came ready to compete. We were a bit flat. They just seemed more athletic than us. We thought we could have done a better job. We just got here. Some of the guys just flew in from their universities so we need to catch up. Hopefully we will play better tomorrow.”

U.S. Roster

1 Josh Ayzenberg (L, 5-8, Long Beach, N.Y., Sacred Heart)
2 J.T. Hatch (L, 6-1, Mesa Ariz., UCLA)
3 Garrett Zolg (S, 6-3, Huntington Beach, Calif., Loyola Chicago)
4 Corey Chavers (OH, 6-4, Downey, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
5C Cody Kessel (OH, 6-5, Colorado Springs, Colo., Princeton)
6 Matt Yoshimoto (S, 6-5, Ventura, Calif., Lewis)
7 Nick Amado (MB, 6-6, Aliso Niguel, Calif., Long Beach State)
8 Greg Petty (OH, 6-6, Downers Grove, Ill., Lewis)
9 Michael Wexter (Opp, 6-6, New Lenox, Ill., Pepperdine)
10 Blake Leeson (MB, 6-8, Mequon, Wis., Ohio State)
11 Ryan Moss (Opp, 6-8, Corona Del Mar, Calif., USC)
12 David Wieczorek (OH, 6-8, Chicago, Ill., Pepperdine)
13 Matthew August (MB, 6-7, San Clemente, Calif., Irvine Valley College)
14 Patrick Gasman (MB, 6-10, Clovis, Calif., Hawaii)

Head coach: Matt Werle
Assistant coach: Spencer McLachlin
Physiotherapist: Melanie Luck
Team manager: Kimmie Beach
Statistician: Michael Gee