Boys' Youth Team Dominates Dominican

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-- The U.S. Boys' Youth National Volleyball Team swept the team from Dominican Republic, 25-13, 25-18, 25-15 on Friday at the 2010 NORCECA Boys' Youth (U-19) Continental Championship in Guadalajara, Mexico.

With the victory, the United States will advance to Saturday's semifinals, where it will face Mexico at 5 p.m. PT. Cuba, which won the other quarterfinal over Guatemala (25-18, 25-12, 25-8) on Friday, will play Puerto Rico on Saturday at 3 p.m. PT. The medal matches will be played Sunday.

John La Rusch (Long Beach, Calif.) led the U.S. Boys' Team on Friday with nine points on nine kills with a kill percentage of 0.56. Austin Kingi (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) added eight points on seven kills and one ace. Scott Rhein (Pleasant View, Tenn.) scored seven points on six kills and one block.

The Dominican's Julio Cesar Almonte led all scorers with 17 points on 15 kills and two aces.

"They put up a good fight, put some pressure on us and forced us to play better," U.S. Boys' Youth Team Head Coach Gary Sato (Los Angeles, Calif.) said.

"We are ready to confront Mexico and now we will study up our plan for tomorrow. I expect it to be a very exciting match and it will be a great spectacle for the fans. The local team has impressed me as they are very well-rounded and show a lot of discipline."

As a team, the United States out-hit the Dominican 30-23 and had a kill percentage of 0.34 behind starting setter Matt West (Seattle, Wash.). The U.S. Boys also out-blocked the Dominican 10-2. The Dominican also struggled with 32 team errors as opposed to 19 for the United States.

Among other U.S. scorers, Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) had six points on two kills, three blocks and one ace. Owen McAndrews (Avon Lake, Ohio) added six points on four kills and two blocks. West scored five points on one kill, three blocks and one ace. He was credited with 22 excellent sets on 70 attempts.

Nik Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) and Christopher Orenic (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) each scored one point on one kill.

Libero Andrew Sato (Calabasas, Calif.) was credited with seven excellent digs and 100 percent excellent receptions on eight attempts. He now leads all receivers in efficiency for the tournament.

Coach Gary Sato started White and Rhein at outside hitter, Russell and McAndrews at middle blocker, Tarantino at opposite and West at setter and Sato at libero. La Rusch started the second and third sets at opposite. Kingi started the second and third sets at outside hitter. Orenic started the second set at outside hitter. Antonijevic played as a substitute.

The U.S. Boys' Team held an 8-4 lead at the first technical timeout (TTO) of the first set, scoring on two kills by McAndrews, one from Russell and an ace from West plus four Dominican errors. Team USA came out of the timeout and went on a 9-0 tear, thanks in part to two blocks and a kill by Russell, a block and a kill by Rhein, a kill from Kingi, who was brought in for Rhein, and a block from West. Only a U.S. error stopped the run. But Team USA scored three more straight points to make it 20-5. As Sato made more substitutions for the U.S., the scoring slowed down and the Dominican started scoring some points. Team USA reached set point first at 24-12 on a La Rusch kill. A U.S. serving error gave the Dominican one more point before The U.S. put a lid on it.

The Dominican took a 5-4 lead in the second set. But four straight Dominican errors put the United States ahead 8-5 at the first TTO. The teams battled back and forth, but the United States held a 16-12 lead at the second TTO. Later, with the United States leading 21-17, it scored four straight points, including a La Rusch kill that ended the set.

The U.S. Boys' Youth Team took an 8-4 lead into the first TTO of the third set. The U.S. scored on two kills each from Rhein and Kingi and one from La Rusch. Coming out of the timeout, the United States went on an 8-1 run, including two kills from La Rusch and one each from Rhein and Kingi, to lead 16-5 at the second TTO. With Team USA leading 18-6, the Dominican team put together a 5-1 run of its own to make the score 19-11. But the U.S. attack, led by Kingi and Rhein, continued and Team USA reached match point at 24-13. The Dominicans scored twice on a kill and a U.S. error before Team USA took the victory on a Dominican service error.

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