Sander Leads U.S. to Pan Am Gold

Jul 17, 2012 - Posted by Whitney Craft Jordan on July 17, 2012 at 11:42 am | Updated: July 17, 2012 5:14 pm

from USA Volleyball, B.J. Evans 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 14, 2012) – A young group of players from the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team defeated Argentina, 29-27, 25-20, 25-11 to win the gold medal at the Pan American Cup in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The U.S. Men, some of whom could be on the U.S. Olympic volleyball team in 2016, finished the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record. Argentina finished second at 4-1. It is the fifth time the U.S. Men have won the tournament since it started in 2006.

U.S. outside hitter Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.) was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Outside hitter Tony Ciarelli (Huntington Beach, Calif.) was named Best Attacker and Dustin Watten (Long Beach, Calif.) earned Best Defense honors.

The U.S. Men led Argentina in kills (46-30), blocks (5-4), aces (3-1) and digs (29-18).

After close contests in the first two sets, the U.S. Men blew the third set wide open, leading 16-6 at the second technical timeout (TTO) and scoring the last three points of the match.

U.S. opposite Carson Clark (Santa Barbara, Calif.) led all scorers with 19 points on a match-high 18 kills (62.1 kill percent, .517 hitting efficiency) and one ace. Sander added 10 points on nine attacks and one block.

Ciarelli finished with seven points on seven kills. Middle blocker Dylan Davis (Corona Del Mar, Calif.) and middle blocker Matt Rawson each scored six points and each had four attacks and two blocks.

Opposite Murphy Troy (St. Louis, Mo.) compiled four points on two attacks and two aces. Outside hitter Garrett Muagututia (Oceanside, Calif.) totaled two points on two attacks.

U.S. setter Kawika Shoji (Honolulu) was credited with 11 assists as he set the U.S. Men to a 48.4 kill percent and a .379 hitting efficiency. Argentina finished with a 30.0 kill percent and a .140 hitting efficiency.

Watten was credited with nine digs and seven excellent receptions. Sander led in receptions with eight.

U.S. Head Coach Shawn Patchell (Huntington Beach, Calif.) started Muagututia and Sander at outside hitter, Davis and Rawson at middle blocker, Clark at opposite, Shoji at setter and Watten at libero.

Ciarelli substituted in the first set for Muagututia and started the rest of the match. Opposite Murphy Troy (St. Louis, Mo.), outside hitter Jordan Dufault (Lakewood, Calif.) and setter Ryan Ammerman (Parker, Colo.) played as substitutes.

In the first set, the U.S. Men held leads of 8-6 and 11-9. Argentina came back to tie the score at 13-13 and the teams traded points. Argentina seemed to have the set in hand when it reached set point at 24-22. But the U.S. came back with a Sander kill, Argentina error and Troy ace to take its own set point at 25-24. The U.S. would take set point again at 26-25 and 27-26. Finally, the U.S. took set point No. 4 at 28-27 on a Ciarelli kill and won the set on Argentina’s error.

With the score tied 9-9 in the second set, the U.S. scored four unanswered points on a Clark attack, block by Sander and two Argentina errors to lead 13-9. Argentina closed the gap at 21-20, but then stopped scoring as the U.S. scored the final four points of the set, including three Argentina errors and a Sander attack, for the victory.

The U.S. Men led 7-5 in the third set when Team USA used a 7-0 run to build a significant lead. Clark had two kills in the run while Sander, Davis and Ciarelli each had one. The U.S. Men went on to lead 16-6 at the second TTO and scored the final three points of the match for the victory.