USA Norceca

American players and coaching staff members pose with the gold medals (Photo: NORCECA)

A strong performance from star setter Micah Christenson propelled the United States to the top of the podium of the 2023 NORCECA Men’s Volleyball Championship, their last event before the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

In order to win their first continental title since 2017, the Americans, who played in front of their home fans in Charleston, triumphed in each of their five matches in the tournament, dropping just two sets over the six days of competition.

  • Watch all the matches of the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament on VBTV.

Their perfect campaign culminated with an impressive sweep (25-20, 25-14, 25-22) of continental rivals Canada in the gold medal match, on Sunday. It was the tenth American victory in the tournament – the country has the second most titles, trailing Cuba, who have 16 gold medals.

The American victory was facilitated by a spectacular performance from Christenson, who did a great job running the team’s offense against Canada and was awarded as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Libero Erik Shoji was selected as the best in his position.

“Canada came out strong, but we battled against it and came out on top,” Shoji reacted. “We knew they would come out with strong serves. That was probably the game plan… We just had to adjust a little bit and adjust our setting, adjust everything. But the main thing was serve and pass and I think we did a great job.”

Opposite Matt Anderson was one of three American players to reach double digits in scoring in the final. The opposite tallied 16 points (12 kills, two aces, two blocks), while outside hitters Thomas Jaeschke and Aaron Russell had 12 (all in kills) and 11 (nine kills, one ace, one block), respectively.

“We have ten practices left before the Olympic Qualifier and the big thing for us is figuring out the best way to use each of them,” head coach John Speraw commented about the upcoming tournament. “It’s really about allowing the guys to tighten up a couple of things and going into the event feeling good. It’s going to be a really challenging tournament, but we feel good in terms of our depth and confidence.”

Cuba finished third after a three-set (25-15, 25-14, 25-16) win over the Dominican Republic and returned to the podium after missing out in 2021.

The three medalists and fifth-placed Mexico will be the four national teams from NORCECA competing in the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament from September 30 to October 8. The Cubans are in Pool A and will go to Brazil to play the hosts, Italy, Iran, Ukraine, Germany, Czechia and Qatar.

The United States are in Pool B and will compete in Japan against the hosts, Slovenia, Serbia, Türkiye, Tunisia, Egypt and Finland. Allocated in Pool C, Canada and Mexico will make the trip to China to play the Asians, Poland, Argentina, the Netherlands, Belgium and Bulgaria. Two teams from each pool will qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

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