The U.S. Boys U19 Celebrating Semifinal Win over Canada

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 17, 2024) – The U.S. Boys U19 National Team made key plays in the biggest moments to edge Canada 3-0 (25-23, 26-24, 29-27) in the first semifinal of the NORCECA Continental Championship Saturday in Ponce, Puerto Rico. In two wins over Canada, five of the six sets were decided by two points.

The U.S. (4-0), which has still not dropped a set in the tournament, will play in Sunday’s gold medal match against Cuba, who used an 8-0 run in the fifth set to defeat host Puerto Rico in the other semifinal. Cuba’s only loss in the tournament was in pool play against the U.S.

“Canada played us really tough, but I think the difference maker for us was we stuck together as a team, stayed positive, and had a great culture. We were really able to fight together, play some good defense, and score,” said libero Layton Bluth. The U.S. limited Canada to a .169 hitting percentage for the match.

Outside hitter Aleksey Mikhailenko paced the winners with 13 points on nine kills, three blocks and an ace, while fellow outside and captain Grant Lamoureux led the team with 10 kills and finished with 11 points.

Reuben Veith of Canada led all players with 13 kills and 17 points, including 11 kills in the final set.

The U.S. held a 41-32 advantage in kills and five aces compared to three for Canada. Both teams recorded 11 blocks.

Four players scored between five and nine points for the balanced U.S. attack. Middle blockers Luc Soerensen (six kills, three blocks) and Roman Payne (seven kills, one block, one ace) each tallied nine points. Opposite Cooper Keane posted a match-high four blocks to go with two kills, and outside hitter Myles Jordan contributed five kills.

Setter Rafa Urbina scored three critical points on two kills and an ace. Bluth keyed the defense with eight digs with Keane and Urbina adding five.

Canada rallied to even each of the first two sets late before the U.S. scored the final two points both times to take a 2-0 lead. It was the U.S. who needed a late rally in the third set, finally stringing together the winning points with the score knotted at 27.

Canada started the match on an 8-4 run, culminating with an ace off the net. After a timeout, the U.S. scored six of the next seven points to take a 10-9 lead and eventually built a four-point advantage, 19-15. Canada scored the next three points to cut the lead to one point and tied the set at 22 and 23 before back-to-back kills by Urbina and Mikhailenko. Urbina also broke the 22-22 deadlock when he scored on a tip. Mikhailenko (five) and Lamoureux (four) combined for nine kills in the set.

Soerensen served for the first four points of the second set and his kill would give the U.S. its largest lead of the set, 11-6. A Keane block followed by a pair of Soerensen blocks made it 19-15, but Canada quickly responded with three consecutive points to cut the lead to one. An ace by Thomas Demps IV put the U.S. out in front 23-20, but Canada again rallied and tied the set at 24. Consecutive kills by Payne and Mikhailenko gave the U.S. the set and the 2-0 lead. Soerensen finished the set with six points.

Canada led most of the third set, scoring five of the first seven points, and still led by four points at 15-11. The U.S. scored five of the next six points and tied the set for the first time on an Urbina ace. A Keane block gave the U.S. its first lead, 19-18. The set was tied three times with neither team leading more than a point until a key pancake by Canada libero Isaac Navero helped give Canada a 23-21 advantage.

Kills by Jordan and Lamoureux evened the set again. The U.S. fought off four set points and took only its second lead of the set at 28-27 when a Soerensen serve hit the net and dribbled over for an ace and Lamoureux ended the match with a kill from the high left side for his team-leading sixth point of the set.

Boys U19 Roster for the NORCECA

No., Name (Pos., Ht, Hometown, School, USAV Region)
Layton Bluth (L, 5-8, Gilbert, Ariz., Casteel HS, Arizona)
Malakai Tuakoi (S, 6-3, Los Angeles, Calif., Da Vinci HS, Southern California)
Thomas Demps IV (OH, 6-4, Raleigh, N.C., Broughton HS, Carolina)
Noah Meabon (OH/Opp, 6-4, Fairport, N.Y., Fairport, Western Empire)
Myles Jordan (OH, 6-5, Houston, Texas, Ridge Point HS, Lone Star)
Dante Cayaban (MB, 6-6, St. Cloud, Fla., St. Cloud HS, Florida)
11 Cooper Keane (Opp, 6-6, Hermosa Beach, Calif., Mira Costa HS, Southern California)
12 Rafa Urbina (S, 6-6, Broomfield, Colo., Legacy HS, Rocky Mountain)
14 Aleksey Mikhailenko (OH, 6-7, Mequon, Wis., Homestead HS, Badger)
16 Luc Soerensen (MB, 6-8, Meadville, Pa., Meadville Area Senior HS, Southern)
19 Roman Payne (MB, 6-10, Carlsbad, Calif., Carlsbad HS, Southern California)
20C Grant Lamoureux (OH, 6-10, Clemmons, N.C., West Forsyth HS, Carolina)

Titus Brown (OH, 6-4, Groton, Conn., Robert E. Fitch HS, New England)
Joel Eanes (Opp, 6-9, Virginia Beach, Va., Floyd E. Kellam HS, Old Dominion)
Blake Fahlbusch (OH, 6-8, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Loyola HS of Los Angeles, Southern California)
Matt Fisher (S, 6-6, Camarillo, Calif., Adolfo Camarillo HS, Southern California)
Tristan Hassell (Opp, 6-5, Toronto, Ontario, Emily Carr SS, Western Empire)
Isaiah McCoy (MB, 6-7, Lantana, Fla., The Kings Academy, Florida)
Leon Meng (L, 5-8, Los Altos, Calif., Homestead HS, Northern California)
Lincoln Myers (MB, 6-9, Madison, Wis., Vel Phillips Memorial HS, Badger)
Thomas Phung (L, 5-10, Dallas, Texas, North Garland HS, Southern)

Head Coach: Charlie Sullivan (Springfield College)
Assistant Coach: Pat Shawaryn (Penn State)
Assistant Coach: Chris Seiffert (Concordia Irvine)
Performance Analyst: Evan Metzger (Springfield College)
Team Doctor: Dr. Chris Cornell (Coduhi Clinic)
Team Lead: Sean Byron (Marist College)

All Times PT

May 14
USA def. Canada, 3-0 (25-23, 25-15, 25-23)

May 15
USA def. Suriname, 3-0 (25-13, 25-11, 25-16)

May 16
USA def. Cuba, 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-18)

May 17
Quarterfinals (USA earned a bye)

May 18
Semifinals: U.S. def. Canada, 3-0 (25-23, 26-24, 29-27)

May 19
Gold Medal Match, vs. Cuba, 3 p.m.