UPDATED 1:54p MT on June 9: The U.S. Boys Youth National Team beat Nicaragua this morning, 25-21, 25-14, 25-13 in the NORCECA quarterfinals. The U.S. will play Puerto Rico in tonight’s semis at 6p PT. Winner will qualify for 2019 Worlds.

Akhil Tangutur led all scorers vs Nicaragua w/10k, 1b, 3a. Joe Deluzio had 13 points on 5k, 3b, 5a.

You can watch tonight’s match live at FloVolleyball.tv.

“I expect everyone on our team to give every ounce of energy they have and I expect Puerto Rico to do the same,” Coach Brad Keller said.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 8, 2018) – The U.S. Boys Youth Team got better as it went along, but couldn’t get past a powerful Cuban squad, falling 25-19, 25-19, 28-26 on Friday at the NORCECA U19 Championship in San Jose, Costa Rica.

The United States (2-1) finished second in its pool to Cuba (3-0) and will have to play in the quarterfinals on Saturday against Nicaragua (time TBD). The top two teams will qualify for the 2019 FIVB U19 World Championship.

“We all love to compete. It was a good fight,” U.S. setter Aidan Knipe said. “Cuba put a lot of balls away deep and we had a tough time dealing with that. They passed our three-man block. We have to make some small adjustments before the next match.”

Cuba led the United States in kills (33-30), blocks (6-5) and aces (6-2). Cuba scored on 33 U.S. errors while committing 27.

Outside hitter Alex Knight and opposite Scott Solan led the U.S. scoring. Each had 11 points. Outside hitter Akhil Tangutur led the blocking effort with three.

Cuba used tough serving and passing to jump out to early leads against the United States in both the first and second sets. Cuba also put up a big block, led by Christian Thondike with four.

U.S. Head Coach Brad Keller brought in Knipe to substitute in the first and second sets and to start the third for Joe Karlous. Middle blocker Nathaniel Gates also started the third set for Ethan Smith.

The third set was tied at 19-19 when the U.S. served into the net and Cuba followed with an ace off the top of the net to go up by two. Cuba took match point at 24-22 when the U.S. called timeout. Solan scored on a kill, followed by a strike from Tangutur that Cuba passed out of bounds and the score was tied.

The U.S. boys fought off two more match points until at 26-26, Cuba got two straight kills from Victor Andreu and won the match.

“I really like the fact that we go better as the match went on, that we stayed together and that at the very end we were with them,” Keller said. “Hopefully we can have the opportunity to face them again, but first we have to take care of Nicaragua.”

Outside hitter: James Hartley and Alex Knight
Middle blocker: Ethan Smith and Ethan Hill
Opposite: Scott Solan
Setter: Joe Karlous
Libero: Mason Briggs
Substitutes: Aidan Knipe (S), Akhil Tangutur (OH), Joe Deluzio (OH), Clarke Godbold (Opp)

Kills: Knight 10, Solan 10, Hartley 5, Smith 3, Tangutar 1, Hill 1
Blocks: Tangutar 3, Smith 1, Knight 1
Aces: Hartley 1, Solan 1

NORCECA U19 Continental Championship
Boys Youth National Team
2. Joe Karlous (S, 6-0, Costa Mesa, Calif., So Cal)
3. Mason Briggs (L, 5-11, Valencia, Calif., So Cal)
4. Aidan Knipe (S, 6-2, Huntington Beach, Calif., So Cal)
5. Akhil Tangutur (OH, 6-4, Pacific Palisades, Calif., So Cal)
10. Ethan Smith (MB, 6-7, Laguna Niguel, Calif., So Cal)
12. Joseph Deluzio (OH, 6-6, Windermere, Fla., Florida)
13. Alex Knight (OH, 6-6, Culver City, Calif., So Cal)
14. James Hartley (OH, 6-6, Waxhaw, N.C., Carolina)
15. Ethan Hill (MB, 6-7, San Clemente, Calif., So Cal)
16. Clarke Godbold (Opp, 6-5, San Pedro, Calif., So Cal)
18. Scott Solan (Opp, 6-8, Las Vegas, Nev., So Cal)
19. Nathaniel Gates (MB, 6-8, La Jolla, Calif., So Cal)

Head Coach: Brad Keller (UCLA men’s volleyball assistant coach)
Assistant Coach: Nick MacRae (Long Beach State men’s volleyball associate head coach)
Assistant Coach: Colin McMillan (Penn State men’s volleyball associate head coach)
Team Leader: Gabby Lutjen (USA Volleyball)
Technical Coordinator: Kevin Burch (The Ohio State University men’s volleyball assistant coach)

Schedule and Results (All times PT)
Pool Play
June 6
United States def Guatemala, 25-23, 25-14, 25-18
Cuba def Honduras, 25-9, 25-10, 25-10
Puerto Rico def Nicaragua, 25-12, 25-11, 25-20

June 7
Cuba def Guatemala, 25-13, 25-12, 25-18
United States def Honduras, 25-16, 25-15, 25-14
Costa Rica def Nicaragua, 25-21, 23-25, 25-14, 27-25

June 8
Guatemala def Honduras, 25-21, 23-25, 25-18, 25-11
Cuba def United States, 25-19, 25-19, 28-26
Puerto Rico def Costa Rica, 25-13, 25-16, 25-12

June 9
QF: Guatemala def Costa Rica, 25-23, 22-25, 18-25, 27-25, 15-13
QF: United States def Nicaragua, 25-21, 25-14, 25-13
4 p.m. SF: Cuba vs Guatemala
6 p.m. SF: United States vs Puerto Rico

June 10
1 p.m. Fifth-place match
3 p.m. Third-place match
5 p.m. First-place match