UCLA recruit Ma’a clutch performance helps U.S. beat Belgium

For the second consecutive day, the United States won in a decisive fifth game at the FIVB Youth World Championship — it just needed overtime to secure this victory.

The United States survived a late-game comeback and Belgium fighting off multiple match-points in overtime before winning 25-20, 17-25, 25-18, 21-25, 19-17 on Saturday in Argentina.



UCLA incoming recruit Micah Ma’a in the victory led all players with a tournament-best seven aces. In addition, Ma’a added five kills, including a kill in the fifth-game overtime that set up the eventual match-winning point for the United States (2-0, 4 points).

Stanford incoming recruit Jordan Ewert and Long Beach State incoming recruit T.J. DeFalco each had a match-high 19 kills. Both players were the only U.S. players with more than six kills against Belgium (0-1, 1 point).

This was the second consecutive match that Ewert led the United States in kills. Ewert also had 20 kills in the United States’ five-game tournament-opening victory against Turkey on Friday.

Outside attacker Simon Peters in the Belgium’s tournament-debut had a team-high 16 kills.

Despite the loss, Belgium out-blocked the United States 13 to 11 and had three consecutive blocks late in the fifth game to help force overtime.

Middle attacker Scott Stadick finished with a match-high six blocks, while Pepperdine incoming recruit Michael Wexter added two blocks.

The United States in the victory also committed 45 errors — 18 more than Belgium.

With two remaining group-play matches, the United States is tied with Turkey for first place. It is also one of two undefeated teams left in Pool A entering the third day of the international tournament.

The United States will continue the group-play stage with a match against France (0-2, 1 point) on Monday.