Loyola incoming recruit Ben Plaisted made the most of the U.S. coaching staff’s decision to put him in the starting lineup.
Plaisted had a match-high 12 kills as the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team swept the host nation El Salvador 25-15, 25-21, 25-18 on Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the NORCECA U-21 Continental Championships.
After coming off the bench in the United States’ first two NORCECA matches, Plaisted made his second consecutive start the quarterfinals match against El Salvador. It was also the first time at the international tournament that Plaisted, a Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 selection, led the United States in kills.
Plaisted was one of two U.S. players to finish with double-digit kills in the quarterfinals. BYU incoming recruit Storm Faagata-Tufuga added 10 kills — his second consecutive match with double-digit kills.
El Salvador opposite Samuel Valdez in the loss had a team-high nine kills and was the only player on his team to have more than five kills.
The United States in the victory out-blocked El Salvador 10 to 3 as Plaisted and Loyola incoming recruit Jeffrey Jendryk each had a match-high three blocks.
With the quarterfinals win, the United States will now play Canada in the semifinals on Saturday. The winner of the United States and Canada match will advance to the championship match and clinch a berth to the 2015 FIVB U-21 Men’s World Championship.
Canada received a bye to the semifinals after going undefeated to win the Group B championship, including beating Puerto Rico in five games in its pool-play finale.
This will also be a rematch of the 2012 NORCECA U-21 championship match. The United States swept Canada in the title match two years ago to win the nation’s second consecutive NORCECA U-21 gold medal.