BYU’s Sander leads U.S. to near upset vs. Brazil

A tournament-best performance from BYU outside attacker Brenden Sander was not enough for the United States to overcome Brazil.

Sander had a match-high 12 kills as the United States lost to undefeated Brazil 25-23, 25-18, 13-25, 25-20 in group play at the Pan American Cup on Wednesday in Canada.



With this loss, the United States (1-1) drops into second place in Group B and needs to win its group-play finale against El Salvador on Thursday to be assured a spot in the quarterfinals. In addition, Brazil (2-0) clinched the group championship and a bye into the semifinals.

Sander had nine of his kills in the first two games and was one of three U.S. players to have double-digit kills against Brazil. Loyola middle attacker Jeff Jendryk finished with 11 kills, while USC middle attacker Andy Benesh added 10 kills.

“We battled pretty well in the first game, but overall in the match I don’t think we passed very well.” coach Dan Friend said at the NORCECA postmatch news conference. “First ball contact is the name of the game, you need to be able to serve and pass and Brazil did a nice job of serving and we didn’t pass as well as we needed to.”

Brazil in the victory finished with nine aces, including Rodrigo Leao who led all players with four kills.

Leao also had a team-high 11 kills in the victory.

Brazil out-blocked the United States 10 to 9. Despite the loss, both Jendryk and Benesh led the United States with three blocks.

The United States also had its chances early in the match to take a lead. The team held a three-point lead late in the opening game before Brazil went on a 7-2 run to close out the game.

“There were a couple of times where we could have made some plays, but I think overall it was a good first look and it’s a really good competition.” outside attacker JT Hatch said. “Hopefully we can learn and grow from this and get better.”