The U.S. Men’s National Team won the NORECA Continental Championship for the first time since 2007 when it defeated Canada, 25-23, 25-20, 25-14 on Sept. 28 at Langley Events Centre in Langley, BC, Canada.
The U.S. Men finished the tournament 4-0 and qualified for the FIVB Grand Champions Cup in November in Japan. Canada (3-1) won the silver medal and Cuba (4-1) took the bronze.
“It feels unbelievably good,” said first-year Head Coach John Speraw who won the Jim Coleman Award as the tournament’s best coach. “At the end of the day, the most important tournament we play in, besides the Olympics themselves, is the NORCECA tournament. For us to come in here and win like we did is a wonderful achievement for our program.”
Matt Anderson of the United States was named the tournament MVP. Setter Micah Christenson, who was playing in his first tournament with the senior National Team, won awards as Best Server and Best Setter.
The U.S. put three players on the Positional All-Star Team: outside hitters Reid Priddy and Anderson, and Christenson.
In Saturday’s match, the U.S. led Canada in kills (41-31), blocks (10-6) and aces (4-2).
“The most important thing for us is we got better as the tournament went on,” said U.S. Team Captain Sean Rooney.
Anderson, who usually starts at outside hitter, started at opposite and led all scorers with 17 points on a match-high 14 kills and match-high three aces.
Priddy and middle blocker Max Holt each added 11 points. Priddy recorded eight kills, two blocks and one ace. Holt scored nine kills and two blocks.
Middle blocker David Lee had eight points on five attacks and a match-high three blocks. Rooney totaled six points on five attacks and one block.
Christenson added two points on two blocks and was credited with 18 running sets.
Libero Erik Shoji was credited with 10 digs and three excellent receptions.
Canada led the first set 21-18 when Priddy scored with a kill giving Christenson the serve. Christenson served for four straight points to give the U.S. a 23-21 lead. Canada tied the score at 23-23, but then served into the net. Anderson used a kill to give the U.S. the 25-23 win.
The USA broke a 5-5 tie in the second set on two kills and two blocks from Holt to lead 9-5. They increased the lead to 12-6. Canada rallied and pulled to within three points at 20-17. But the U.S. scored three straight points on a block and kill by Anderson and kill from Priddy to maintain the lead and went on to win 25-20.
The U.S. jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the third set and Canada never rallied.
Story by B.J. Evans, USA Volleyball