USA junior men are fourth at world championships, highest ever for Team USA


The United States men's junior national volleyball team lost to Serbia, 25-15, 25-20, 23-25, 25-13, in the match for the bronze medal Wednesday at the FIVB Volleyball Men's Junior World Championship at Maracanazinho Gymnasium in Rio de Janeiro.

The Americans had never finished higher than seventh in five previous trips to the world championships.

"Fourth place is the worst position you can have when you have lost the two most important matches, but I am sure many other teams would like to be in our place," U.S. coach John Hawks said. "I am happy for my players."

Taylor Sander led the U.S. with 13 points on 10 kills, two aces and a block. Josh Taylor added 10 points on eight kills and two aces while Stanford sophomore Brian Cook had nine kills. Cardinal sophomore Eric Mochalski contributed three kills.

"We didn't obtain our goal of earning a medal, but we played a good tournament," U.S. team captain Taylor Crabb said. "It was a great experience."

Henry Cassiday recorded 17 digs and five excellent receptions for the Americans while Cook had 15 excellent receptions on 21 attempts and four digs,.

Team USA had 46 kills and a .169 hitting efficiency. Serbia converted 52 of 121 attacks for points for a 43.0 kill percent and .331 hitting efficiency.

Russia won the gold medal with a 25-19, 23-25, 21-25, 25-18, 15-12 victory over Argentina.

Russian Leonid Shchadilov, the best spiker of the tournament, was named the Most Valuable Player. Teammates Igor Filippov (best blocker) and Aleksey Kabeshov (best libero) were also awarded in the closing ceremony.

It is the eighth time Russia finished at the top of the biennial competition for men under 21 years of age. They previously won the gold in 1977, 1981, 1985, 1989, 1995, 1999 and 2005.

"A gold medal is everything. That's how I feel," Russia's coach Sergey Schlyapnikov said. "We had a lot of information about Argentina and we knew it was going to be a tough game. I think the key for us was a quick recovery from our psychological problems."

Host Brazil claimed fifth place by edging Iran, 25-22, 20-25, 19-25, 25-22, 15-10; Spain rallied from two sets down to defeat India, 21-25, 17-25, 25-21, 25-12, 19-17, and claim the seventh place; Belgium survived a five-set match with Germany, winning 25-22, 22-25, 22-25, 30-28, 15-11, to finish ninth; and Canada placed 11th after beating Japan, 25-23, 25-20, 25-19.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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