Aug. 21, 2010
GATINEAU, Quebec - The U.S. Men's Junior National Team won the NORCECA Men's Junior (under-21) Continental Championship for the first time on Saturday, defeating Canada, 25-14, 25-19, 25-16, in the gold medal match at the Centre-Sportif de Gatineau.
The United States finished the tournament with a 5-0 record and did not drop a set. Canada finished 4-1. Both teams qualified for the 2011 FIVB Men's Junior World Championships in Brazil.
Current Gaucho Evan Mottram (Leona Valley, Calif.) was named the tournament's Best Receiver.
Middle blocker Dylan Davis (Newport Beach, Calif.), a sophomore at UCSB, also played an integral part in Canada and served as the captain of the U.S. contingent. On Saturday, he totaled three points on three kills.
The United States has medaled in every NORCECA Men's Junior Continental Championship since the bi-annual event began in 1998, but has never won gold. Its best finishes were seconds in 2004 and 2006.
The United States had seven team aces to Canada's three. Team USA had 37 points on kills (.370 hitting percentage) while Canada had 24 (.070 hitting percentage). The teams were even in blocking, 4-4. The United States' service reception included 24 excellents and two errors on 41 attempts. Canada's had 28 excellents and seven errors on 67 attempts.
"I was proud of our effort this week and tonight," head coach John Hawks said. "They executed the game plan. They are smart players and just a really fun group of guys to coach."
Mottram was credited with 10 excellent service receptions and no faults on 14 attempts.
The Canadians, also silver medalists in 2008, had their best set in the second but a six-point U.S. run midway through was too hard to make up.
The U.S. opened an 8-2 lead at the first technical timeout (TTO) of the first set. It extended the lead to seven at 10-3 and led by eight at the second TTO, 16-8.
The United States took a 4-0 lead in the second set before Canada called timeout and came back with three straight points on two kills and a U.S. error. Still, the U.S. led 8-5 at the first TTO. Canada would end up tying the score at 10-10. Soon after, the United States scored seven points to put the set out of reach.
The U.S. took an 8-6 lead at the first TTO of the third set, partly due to a pair of kills by Davis. Four out of Canada's six points were scored on U.S. errors. The U.S. pushed its lead to 19-12, forcing a Canadian timeout. Canada came back with two straight kills to cut the U.S. lead to five and cause Hawks to call timeout. Canada never got gack in it and the U.S. served up an ace to take the gold medal.
In the bronze medal match, Puerto Rico defeated Cuba, 3-1 (25-16, 22-25, 25-18, 25-22).
Several Gauchos have now won gold medals during the off season. UCSB head coach Rick McLaughlin led the U.S. Men's A2 Team to the 2010 Pan American Cup title in late May in Puerto Rico. McLaughlin also coached the United States to Pan Am gold in 2009 in Mexico.
Story contributions by usavolleyball.org.
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