U.S. drops opener to Venezuela at Pan American Cup

One day into the Pan American Cup and the United States has suffered a setback.

The United States relinquished a one-game lead as it lost to Venezuela 20-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-18 on Tuesday in its group-play opener at the international tournament in Reno, Nevada.



UC Irvine opposite Kyle Russell led a U.S. team primarily comprised of current college players and recent college graduates with 10 kills against Venezuela. In addition, former Springfield outside attacker Andrew Nally had nine kills, while former Princeton All-American opposite Cody Kessel added seven kills before being pulled after the third game.

Opposite Kervin Pinerua finished with a match-high 13 kills and was one of two Venezuela players to have double-digit kills in its tournament opener.

Despite the loss, the United States out-blocked Venezuela 10 to 6 and had five players with multiple blocks. Among the U.S. players with a team-high two blocks included USC middle attacker Andy Benesh and Lewis middle attacker Bobby Walsh, the 2015 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Blocker of the Year.

With this loss, the United States moves into a tie with Mexico for third place in the four-team Group B. The team also will likely need to win one of its two remaining group-play matches to be assured a spot in the quarterfinals.

The United States will continue the group-play stage as it plays host to Mexico on Thursday.