Andy Benesh, Jeff Nygaard On U.S. Pan American Cup Team|
Aug. 12, 2015
Nygaard will serve as the head coach of the U.S. squad and Benesh is among 7 collegians on the 12-player U.S. roster.
The Pan American Cup is an annual tournament that gives the up-and-coming stars of men’s volleyball the opportunity to face international competition. Teams from the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela are competing this year.
The United States has never hosted the event, but has won it five times and finished second twice. Most recently, in 2014, the U.S. team finished second to Cuba.
The U.S. will compete in pool play against Venezuela (Aug. 12 at 7 p.m.), Mexico (Aug. 13 at 7 p.m.) and Argentina (Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.). Quarterfinals are on Aug. 15, semifinals on Aug. 16 and the gold and bronze medal matches on Aug. 17.
Earlier this summer, Benesh helped the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team take home the silver medal at the 2015 Under-21 Pan American Cup in Canada. He and the U.S. Junior National Team now will play at the FIVB Under-21 World Championship on Sept. 11-20 in Mexico.
The 6-8 Benesh, a 2-year starter at USC, has competed with the U.S. program for several years. He was a member of the U.S. Men's Junior National Team that won a bronze medal at the 2014 NORCECA Men's U-21 Continental Championship in El Salvador. He was a member of the 2012 USA Youth National Training team and the USA Youth A1 Beach National Training team. He made the All-Tournament team at the 2012 USA High Performance Championship International Division.
This past 2015 season, Benesh led USC's regulars in hitting percentage (.394) and blocks (93) for the second consecutive year, while also getting 160 kills and 45 digs. He was named 2015 AVCA All-American honorable mention and All-MPSF honorable mention.
As a 2014 freshman, he made the 2014 Off The Block Freshman All-American team and All-MPSF honorable mention, as well as the MPSF All-Freshman team, as he led USC's regulars in hitting percentage (.443, just shy of the rally scoring era school record of .446) and blocks (91), and he also had 190 kills and 60 digs.
Nygaard was named USC’s head coach this summer after serving the previous 5 seasons as a Trojan assistant. He is a 3-time Olympian in indoor and beach volleyball and a 2-time collegiate MVP while playing on a pair of NCAA championship teams.
Nygaard coached USC’s middle blockers in his 5 seasons (2011-15) as Ferguson’s lead assistant. During that span, Troy played in a pair of NCAA Final Fours, won 2 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular season titles and posted an 88-48 (64.7%) overall mark. The 2015 Trojans went 19-9 overall, placed fourth in the MPSF, advanced to the MPSF Tournament semifinals and finished with a No. 7 national ranking.
Before coming to USC, Nygaard was a volunteer assistant coach with the UCLA men’s team for 3 seasons (2002-04). He spent 2009 as an assistant women’s coach at Whittier.
He has been involved with USA Volleyball previously, serving as an assistant with the Pan American men’s indoor team in 2010, as head coach at the USA High Performance Clinic (Iowa/Midwest Region) for indoor women since 2010 and on staff with the Elite Development Program on the beach since 2013.
The 6-8 Nygaard was a middle blocker on the U.S. National Team from 1993 to 2000 and represented the U.S. in 3 Olympics. He was a member of the indoor team at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics and teamed with Dain Blanton on the beach in the 2004 Olympics. He also helped the U.S. win a bronze medal at the 1994 World Championships.
He played indoors professionally in Greece (1996-97), Croatia (1998), France (1999) and Turkey (2007). He also played on the 1999 and 2001 Los Angeles Athletic Club teams that won the U.S. Men’s Open national titles.
Nygaard played on the pro beach tour from 2001 to 2011, winning AVP MVP honors in 2003 when he and Blanton were named AVP Team of the Year. He won 7 AVP tourneys and an FIVB event, with nearly $500,000 in career earnings. He captured a beach tourney for 4 consecutive years (2002-05), including an AVP-best 3 victories in 2003.
As a 4-year (1992-95) starter at UCLA, Nygaard was the first collegiate men’s player to be named National Player of the Year in 2 consecutive seasons when he did so in 1994 and 1995. He was also the National and Conference Freshman of the Year in 1992. He was a 3-time (1993-95) All-American and All-Conference first teamer. He helped the Bruins to the 1993 NCAA title, setting an NCAA tourney record by hitting .867 in the semifinals and earning NCAA All-Tournament co-MVP honors. In 1994, he set UCLA season records with 650 kills while averaging 6.98 kills per match as the Bruins advanced to the NCAA championship match, where he made the NCAA All-Tourney team. The 1995 UCLA team won the NCAA title while posting a 31-1 record (going undefeated in league play) and he was named NCAA All-Tournament MVP. His 123 career aces set a school record.