COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 10, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s Junior National Team won the 2016 NORCECA Under-21 Continental Championship and qualified for the 2017 FIVB U21 World Championship on Sunday with a 25-17, 29-27, 19-25, 25-22 win over Cuba in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada.
The MJNT finished the tournament with a 4-0 record. Setter Josh Tuaniga was named tournament Most Valuable Player and Best Setter. Outside hitter Jordan Ewert was named Best Spiker.
The final at Centre Sportif de Gatineau swung on the second set. Team USA overcame a six-point deficit at 17-11, setting up a frantic finish where the MJNT finally won on the sixth set point after leading scorer Kyle Ensing put down a free ball.
In the fourth set, the U.S. took an early lead, preventing Cuba from getting closer than two points after the first technical timeout. A serving error by Cuba sealed the U.S. victory.
“This is super-awesome, being able to fight with this team, go through it all and see that each guy wants it just as much if not more,” said Tuaniga, who crossed up Cuba with a no-look dump to score the penultimate U.S. point. “Just to see the fire in our team. That’s what makes all worth it. We’ve seen how much we love this game.
“Anything we do with ‘USA’ on the jersey, I love it. I just thank God for the opportunity. First time I’ve ever played Cuba. Such a great team. Such big arms.”
Ensing was top shot with an efficient 20 points (including 15 kills from 25 attacks), while Ewert added 19 (18 kills from 34 attacks).
Jose Carlos Romero paced Cuba with 19 points (16 kills from 32 attacks), while the outside-hitter combo of Gutierrez and Miguel Lopez each had 14.
The MJNT converted 55-of-106 attacks (51.9 percent) while Cuba made good on 54-of-115 (47 percent). The Americans’ reception seldom wavered, as Cuba was limited to three aces. The U.S. out-blocked Cuba 11-4, led by Ensing with four blocks.
“One of the things that we took pride in when we started training was we were not going to let anyone outwork us,” U.S. Head Coach Jay Hosack said. “That second game was the deciding factor. We talked about sending a message by sending a ball back in play – does not matter if it’s a free ball or a down ball – just to say to them ‘you got to do better than that.’ After that, they started making more errors. I could not be more proud of the way they played tonight.
“Cuba’s a very good team, very strong,” Hosack added. “I would not be surprised if they were at worlds next year with an at-large berth. When you see teams like that for the whole week, they can bring some heat. I thought we took some of their swings away with our blocking schemes.”
U.S. Starters vs. Cuba
Outside Hitters: Jordan Ewert and Dylan Missry
Middle Blockers: Scott Stadick and George Huhmann
Opposite: Kyle Ensing
Setter: Josh Tuaniga
Libero: Matthew Douglas
U.S. Statistics vs. Cuba
Kills: Ewert 18, Ensing 15, Missry 9, Huhmann 6, Stadick 6, Wexter 1
Blocks: Ensing 4, Stadick 2, Missry 2, Tuaniga 1, Ewert 1, Huhmann 1
Aces: Huhmann 1, Enging 1, Tuaniga 1
Digs: Ensing 7, Douglas 6, Ewert 5, Missry 4, Tuaniga 2, Devilbiss 1, Huhmann 1, Stadick 1
No. Name (Position, Height, College, Hometown, Region)
2. Kyle Ensing (Opposite, 6-7, Long Beach State, Valencia, California, SCVA)
4. Reese Devilbiss (Outside Hitter, 6-2, Ohio State University, Mount Wolf, Pennsylvania, Keystone)
5. Jack Cole (Middle Blocker, 6-6, Pepperdine University, Lafayette, California, NCVA)
6. George Huhmann (Middle Blocker, 6-10, Princeton University, High Ridge, Missouri, Gateway)
9. Scott Stadick (Middle Blocker, 7-0, UC Irvine, Watertown, Wisconsin, Badger)
10. Joshua Tuaniga (Setter, 6-2, CSU Long Beach, Long Beach, California, SCVA)
12. Austin Matautia (Outside Hitter, 6-5, University of Hawaii Manoa, Ewa Beach, Hawaii, Aloha)
13. Michael Wexter (Opposite, 6-6, Pepperdine University, New Lenox, Illinois, Great Lakes)
17. Joe Worsley (Setter, 6-0, University of Hawaii, Moraga, California, NCVA)
18. Matt Douglas (Libero, 5-10, USC, Pacific Palisades, California, Southern California)
19. Jordan Ewert (Outside Hitter, 6-5, Stanford University, Antioch, California, NCVA)
20. Dylan Missry (Outside Hitter, 6-4, UCLA, Holbrook, New York, Garden Empire)
Head Coach: Jay Hosack, George Mason University
Assistant Coach: Jonah Carson, Mountain View Volleyball Club
Assistant Coach: Matt McCarthy, Lewis University
Statistician: Virginia Pham, Virginia Commonwealth University
July 5: USA def Barbados, 25-15, 25-15, 25-16
July 6: USA def St. Vincent, 25-11, 25-12, 25-10
July 8: Semifinals – USA def Canada, 25-9, 26-24, 25-21
July 9: Finals – USA def Cuba, 25-17, 29-27, 19-25, 25-22