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USA to play for 5th place after 3-0 win over Venezuela

GATINEAU, Canada, July 29, 2017 - The United States will play for the 5th place of the 12th Men’s Pan American Cup after sweeping Venezuela 3-0 (25-22, 25-14 and 25-20) at Gatineau’s Robert Guertin Arena.

The team of the Bars and Stripes will meet the Dominican Republic in a rematch for the fifth place on Sunday. The Caribbean side won in the three sets during the preliminary round.

Both Venezuela and the United States played evenly matched in the opening set, with the USA taking a narrow 16-15 led at the second technical timeout. Mitchell Stahl produced two aces to increase the gap to 22-17. Venezuela kept fighting and got closer 22-23, but left-handed player Michael Saeta came from the bench and scored an ace to win 25-22.

In the second set, the Americans showed their status as the tallest team of the tournament. Jeffrey Jendryk II, Jonah Seif and David Wieczorek were three towers for the Venezuelan spikers. Kyle Ensing’s hitting also found space in their rivals’ defense to seal the win 25-14.

Venezuela regrouped and fought hard in the third set, trailing the Americans 6-8 and 13-16 at the technical timeouts. The block and a strong served made the difference again as the USA finished 25-20 to secure the win in one hour and 22 minutes.

Jake Langlois was the USA’s top scorer with 10 points. He was also supported by David Wieczorek (9), Kyle Ensing and captain Jonah Seif with eight each. Emerson Rodriguez and Edson Valencia led the Venezuelan offensive with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Robert Neilson, head coach of the US team: “Today, we played very good from the service line, and received the ball very well. For sure it was an overall better match today.  I’m excited for the guys, and hopefully we’re moving in the right direction. This is a young group – we have players that are still in university and they are learning what it takes to compete at an international level.  It’s the quality of touches and quality of shots. We’re learning and sometimes we’re taking some hard knocks, but we’re progressing, and I’m pleased with that.”

USA player Kyle Ensing: “Today and even yesterday we had a nice response to our bad game (loss to Dominican Republic). I think we can do even more. Our passing game and setting game worked today; it was a real team effort.”

Edson Valencia, main blocker for Venezuela: “Their height and consistency throughout the match made the difference. We had some down moments and it was very costly. Their service is hard. It is an advantage for them. We do not have as many strong servers at home. We could not keep a consistent game. Matches are lost in the middle of the set. We will continue to gain experience and tune-up in preparation for the South American Championships and the World Championships qualifier”.