The United States is leaving El Salvador with the bronze medal, but there were plenty of storylines that made the NORCECA Continental Championship memorable.
Check out the top five things college men’s volleyball fans should take away from the international tournament.
1. Injury-riddled U.S. squad gets bronze — With multiple players injured or sick throughout the tournament, the United States rallied to sweep Puerto Rico in the bronze medal match on Sunday. BYU incoming recruit Storm Faagata-Tufuga in the medal clinching victory finished with a team-high nine kills and four blocks, while Loyola incoming recruit Ben Plaisted also added nine kills.
2. World Championship bid in doubt — The United States is in danger of missing the FIVB U-21 Men’s FIVB World Championship for the first time in almost a decade following its NORCECA third-place finish. The United States failed to secrue one of the two NORCECA bids to the 2015 World Championship after its semifinal five-game loss against Canada. However, the team at No. 11 in the world rankings has a chance to receive one of the five at-large bids to the World Championships.
3. Future still bright for BYU — Trying to replace BYU All-American outside attacker Taylor Sander will be a daunting task for the Cougars, but two incoming freshmen showed their potential to fill that void. BYU recruits Brenden Sander and Faagata-Tufuga led the United States in kills in all but one match throughout the NORCECA tournament. Brenden Sander, the younger brother of Taylor Sander, had a team-high 18 kills in the U.S. loss to Canada, while Faagata-Tufuga had two matches with double-digit kills.
4. Conference Carolinas player makes big statement — Erskine outside attacker Robert Perez Vargas had a tournament-high 30 kills in a five-game loss to Canada during the pool-play round. Vargas, who last season was a 2014 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. First-Team All-American and a First-Team All-Conference Carolinas selection, also had seven kills against the United States.
5. USC recruit shines vs. U.S. — Puerto Rico opposite and USC incoming recruit Jon Rivera had a match-high 12 kills in the third-place match loss to the United States. All of Rivera’s kills came in the first two games before being pulled for the start of the third game. In addition, Rivera finished the tournament leading Puerto Rico in kills for three of its four matches.