For the first time in more than 10 years, the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team has won its pool at the World Championship — and all thanks to last-place Bulgaria.
No. 6 Brazil in its pool-play finale defeated No. 15 Bulgaria (0-3, 0-3 Pool A) in five games Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to advance to the second round of the World Championship. However, the match going to five games resulted in Brazil losing the tiebreaker with the United States for first-place in Pool A.
No. 9 United States defeated No. 13 Japan in four games Wednesday to clinch one of the two Pool A spots in the second round of World Championship prior to the Brazil-Bulgaria match.
Brazil, Japan and the United States each finished pool-play 2-1 and were in a three-way tie for first place in the Pool A.
The first tie-breaker for teams tied are points per victory. A team at the World Championship receives three points for a sweep, two points for a four-game victory and one point for a five-game victory.
The United States led all Pool A teams five points, while Brazil finished second in the tie-breaker with three points and moved into to second round. Japan with two points was eliminated from the tournament and became the only team in the tournament to have a winning record in pool-play but not reach the second round.
The second round of the World Championship will be comprised of two four-team pool. Similar to the first round, teams will play three matches against the other teams in its pool and then the top two teams in each pool will advance to the semifinals.
After winning Pool A, the United States will compete in Pool E.
The United State will open the second round with a match against No. 4 Iran on Friday before playing No. 11 Spain on Saturday. It will also play No. 2 Russia, the top-ranked team in Pool E, in its second-round finale Saturday.
This is the second time the United States has advanced to the second round of the World Championship since the tournament changed its format in 2009.
The United States advanced out of pool-play in 2009 but went 0-3 in the second round to finish the tournament in eighth place. The best a U.S. team has finished at the World Championship in the last 10 years was seventh place at the 2007 World Championship.
As the second-place team in Pool A, Brazil will be in Pool F. The other teams in Pool F include No. 1 Argentia, No. 5 Serbia and No. 7 India.
U.S. second round schedule
4 p.m. (3 p.m. EST) Friday vs. No. 4 Iran
4 p.m. (3 p.m. EST) Saturday vs. No. 11 Spain
4 p.m. (3 p.m. EST) Sunday vs. No. 2 Russia