Sept. 16, 2013

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COLUMBUS, Ohio Michael Henchy and Driss Guessous earned the opportunity to don the Red, White and Blue and represent the United States at the FIVB Men’s U-21 World Championship held Aug. 22-Sept. 1 in Ankara and Izmir, Turkey.

The dream to represent their country on the international level is one that many athletes have. The duo had the chance to fulfill that dream and experience it firsthand.

“The feeling of representing USA is like nothing else I have experienced in my athletic career,” Guessous said. “There is a certain sense of pride and responsibility that comes with the jersey.  Knowing that you are following in the footsteps of some of the greatest players in the sport really encourages you to give it your all and put it all on the line.”

The pair was selected from a field of 22 in late June to the final 12-player roster. A familiar face was at the helm of the program in Ohio State’s own head coach Pete Hanson and Buckeye assistant Sean Byron also served the same capacity for Team USA.

“The tournament was huge for Henchy and Guessous,” Hanson said. “Both of them played extremely well and there was a level of confidence that you could see rise in each of them as the tournament went on.  I am very happy that they each had the opportunity to participate.  They clearly earned their respective playing time in the tourney based on how they performed.”

The 11-day tournament provided both Henchy and Guessous opportunity to enhance their athletic skills and bring more experience to the upcoming 2014 Ohio State season.

“I felt like I made gains in how I approach serve receive and my ability to make a quality contact each time the ball hits my platform,” Henchy said. “I also learned to manage my attack better by assessing situations which is crucial to winning long rallies and allowing the blockers to do their job instead of forcing an awkward attack and making an error.”

“One thing that I picked up from this trip was the overall increase in speed of play,” Guessous added. “The level of competition you see playing against international teams is noticeably increased from that of collegiate teams. Learning to play against these professional players really helped me adjust to a faster paced game and I feel that it will make my season playing for Ohio State that much easier.”   

Team USA struggled a bit throughout the tournament and finished the 20-team championship in 11th overall. Despite leaving Turkey without a medal, Team USA did leave on a high note with a three-set win over rival Canada.

“One of my best memories of the whole trip was beating Canada on the last day,” Guessous said. “Knowing that we weren’t going to medal could have had adversely affected us. Instead of playing without energy, we came out firing and ended the tournament on a positive note.”

Overall, great improvements were made on the court and great memories were made from within the team.

“The best memory of the trip is a collective memory of the guys I was with,” Henchy said. “We had a great group that got along perfectly and that made for some hilarious moments. Most of those stemmed from botched haircuts or confusions with learning the Turkish language!”