The USA men won a big match on Thursday, sweeping Iran in the FIVB World League in Poland, while USA women’s coach Karch Kiraly announced his roster for the Pan Am Cup that starts Saturday in Peru.
The American men improved their tournament record to 3-4 with a 25-17, 25-22, 30-28 victory, especially impressive since they were down 24-20 in the third set. They play Russia on Saturday. The USA beat Russia on June 10 in three, while Thursday the Russians swept host Poland. The Americans play Poland on Sunday.
Ben Patch led the USA with 21 kills and three blocks. Former BYU teammate Taylor Sander added nine kills and two blocks. Erik Shoji led with eight digs, one of which resulted in this spectacular play by him and teammate TJ DeFalco.
Previously in the tournament the USA lost to Serbia, Canada and Belgium in Serbia, but bounced back with victories over Italy and Russia before losing to France. The Americans need to finish in the top five in pool play to advance to the Final Round July 5-9 in Brazil.
The USA women, who have won three of the last five Pan Am Cups, play Venezuela on Saturday, Colombia on Sunday and then Puerto Rico, Mexico and Argentina. The Pan Am Cup is in its 16th year as teams from NORCECA (North America, Central America and Caribbean) and South America confederations compete for the title. The Pan Am Cup has two six-team preliminary round pools that will play a full round-robin schedule.
The American squad will consist of two setters, two liberos, two opposites, five outside hitters and four middles. The setters include captain Micha Hancock and Lauren Carlini. The liberos will be Amanda Benson and Justine Wong-Orante. The opposites are Annie Drews and Liz McMahon.
The outside are Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, Megan Courtney, Madi Kingdon and Sonja Newcombe. The middles are Rhamat Alhassan, Molly McCage, Paige Tapp and Amber Rolfzen. Six of the players –- Carlini, Hancock, Courtney, Kingdon, Alhassan and Wong-Orantes –- were on the USA team that finished third last year.
Click here for the VolleyballMag.com story from last week with Kiraly.