It took awhile — longer than any match at the tournament — but the U.S. Boys’ Youth National Team finally won its pool-play opener at the World Championship.
In a match lasting almost three hours, No. 9 United States avoided blowing a two-game lead and defeated No. 10 Egypt 25-16, 25-21, 27-29, 34-36, 17-15 on Friday in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The two-hour-and-32-minute match was the longest match during the first day of the international tournament by more than 30 minutes. In addition, no other World Championship match had three games go into overtime, and the 70 combined points in the fourth game was the longest single-game so far in the tournament.
The United States overcame a 7-3 deficit to win the decisive fifth game as outside attacker Matthew Tarantino had five kills in the final game. Tarantino, an incoming freshman recruit for Pepperdine, finished the match with 20 kill.
Tarantino was one of three U.S. players to have at least 15 kills against Egypt.
Outside attacker and Loyola incoming freshman recruit Cody Caldwell had a tournament-high 26 kills, including 14 kills in the United States’ two opening game wins. In addition, middle attacker and Penn State incoming freshman recruit Aaron Russell added 15 kills.
Russell also had a match-high four aces in the victory.
Setter and Pepperdine incoming freshman recruit Matt West averaged 8.80 assists in the five games — the second-best assists per game average after the first day at the tournament — as the United States out-hit Egypt .272 to .212.
Egypt outside attacker Islam Abdelkader ended the match with a team-high 21 kills.
After United States won the first two games, the match began to turn into a marathon match when the United States was unable to complete the sweep and close out Egypt in the third game.
With the United States trailing Egypt 24-23, Caldwell had a kill to fight off the game-point and force overtime. Both teams exchanged points in the overtime session before Egypt scored two consecutive points to win the game 29-27 to force a fourth game.
Caldwell in the second game had eight kills — more than all the other U.S. players combined — to help give the United States a two-game lead.
Caldwell also led all players with six kills in the United States’ nine-point opening-game win — the largest margin of victory in the match. Outside attacker and Lewis recruit Greg Petty had four kills and Russell added three kills in the first game.
With this victory, the United States is tied with No. 15 Bulgaria for first place in Pool A.
Bulgaria upset No. 1 Argentina in five games in its Pool A opener on Friday.
The United States will play its next pool-play match against Bulgaria at 5 p.m. (EST) Saturday in Buenos Aires.
The top two teams following the three-match pool-play round will advance to the second round of the World Championship.
The United States did not qualify for the second round at the 2009 World Championship and finished in 10th place. In its five appearances, the United States has never finished higher than fifth place.