United States Sweeps Puerto Rico to Reach NORCECA Final


Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA (Aug. 31, 2012) – The United States recorded a 25-15, 25-16, 25-20 victory over the Puerto Rico on Friday evening at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., to reach the NORCECA Men’s Junior Continental Championship gold-medal match.


United States will face Canada on Saturday at 17:30 in a rematch of the most recent NORCECA Men’s Junior Continental Championship in 2010, while Puerto Rico will meet Mexico for the bronze medal. The top three finishing teams in the tournament advance to the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Junior Continental Championship. By reaching the title match, both United States and Canada have guarantee a spot in next year’s World Championship event.


Benjamin Patch sparked the United States with 16 points including three blocks, while Nicholas Olson charted 11 points. Gregory Petty and Matthew Tarantino notched 10 points each.


Puerto Rico had nine different players score points led by Francisco Velez and Pedro Nieves with six points each.


The United States service kept Puerto Rico out of system that included a 7-0 ace advantage. The U.S. added an 8-6 block advantage and 45-27 kill margin.


The United States controlled the middle stages of the opening set pulling away to a 25-15 victory that included Patch scoring seven points and three of the team’s four blocks. USA’s Gregory Petty started a 4-0 run with two aces to put the U.S. in front 7-4 in the second set. Puerto Rico called timeout trailing 18-12 in the second set and the lead expanded to 24-13 with consecutive Christenson aces and back-to-back blocks by Tarantino on a 5-0 run. Puerto Rico saved three set points before a James Shaw kill ended the set at 25-16. Puerto Rico scored three unanswered points to level the third set score at 18-all, but the United States responded with a 3-0 run of its own including a Scott Rhein ace to put the score at 21-18. The USA finished the set with a 25-20 victory.


“I thought today’s match was a good indication of both teams playing for a spot in Turkey next year,” United States head coach Peter Hanson said. “We knew we had to play a good match. When you play a quality opponent like Puerto Rico, you know you have to play well. Our guys were on point tonight and it was nice to see our execution on a high level.”


“Congratulations to Puerto Rico for a hard fought match,” United States captain Micah Christenson said. “We were able to serve the ball well, which helped our block defense. Overall, we had a good team effort. We know Canada well as we have played them a lot including at least four scrimmages (in August). We will need to execute our game plan and focus on our side of the net.”


“My congratulations to USA on a great match,” Puerto Rico captain Cristian Rivera said. “Tonight we couldn’t handle USA’s serve. I hope we go home knowing we will be in Turkey in 2013.”


“My congratulations to USA for a great match,” Puerto Rico head coach Ramon Hernandez said. “Puerto Rico is having a hard time passing. Tomorrow we have to pass better and play our best match of the tournament to beat a good Mexican team.”