The U.S. men's junior national volleyball team will not be playing for the gold at the FIVB Junior World Championships, and there's still plenty of good cheer to go around for the Americans, who have already insured their best ever finish in the event.
Ninth-ranked U.S. dropped a 27-29, 28-26, 25-19, 25-20 decision to world top-ranked Argentina Tuesday in the semifinal held at Maracanazinho Gymnasium in Rio de Janeiro.
Team USA will play Serbia for the bronze medal on Wednesday.
Argentina advances to its first-ever gold-medal match and will meet Russia. The team earned the bronze medal at the 2009 FIVB Men's Junior World Championship, while the U.S. finished eighth in the same tournament.
The Americans have three seventh-place finishes and two eighth-place finishes in their five previous trips to the junior championships.
Taylor Sander led the U.S. with 25 points on 22 kills, two blocks and an ace. Stanford sophomore Eric Mochalski was one of three players to record eight points. Mochalski scored his points on seven kills and a block.
"It is difficult to win a match when you make 37 mistakes, but I am proud of my guys," U.S. coach John Hawks said. "We got together only three weeks before the tournament and became the first team in our country to play in a gold-medal semifinal match of the FIVB Men's Junior World Championship."
U.S. captain Taylor Crabb added that Argentina's defense put pressure on the U.S. team.
"Argentina played a great match," Crabb said. "They dug a lot of balls and forced us to make several mistakes, which decided the outcome of the match. We weren't ready."
Team USA recorded 58 kills and a .168 hitting efficiency. Argentina had 54 kills and a .235 hitting efficiency.