U.S. beats Japan to claim pool title at World Championship

The United States rallied and now has a pool championship while remaining in contention for a top-10 finish at the FIVB U-21 World Championship.

USC middle attacker Andy Benesh finished with both a match-high 12 kills and five blocks as the United States beat Japan 25-23, 17-25, 25-20, 25-23 on Thursday in Mexico to go undefeated in Pool G.



With this victory, the United States (3-3, 7 points) secures a spot in the ninth place semifinals. In addition, the team won all three of its Pool G matches it finished the opening round with three losses and was relegated to the consolation bracket.

Benesh had zero attack errors and was one of three U.S. players to have double-digit kills against Japan (1-5. 3 points). Along with Benesh, Penn State outside attacker Chris Nugent and UCLA Freshmen All-American outside attacker J.T. Hatch each had 12 kills.

Hatch in the victory also added nine digs.

UC Santa Barbara Freshmen All-American libero Hayden Boehle once again led the United States defensively with 20 digs. This was the third consecutive match that Boehle had at least 10 digs.

The United States out-blocked Japan 11 to 9 and had six players with at least one block.

Despite the loss, Japan finished with seven aces in the pool-play finale.

The Japanese also had four players finish with double-digit kills, including outside attackers Tsubasa Hisahara and Kenta Takanashi who both added 12 kills.

The United States will now advance to play either Poland or France in the World Championship ninth-place semifinals on Saturday. If the United States can win its semifinal match, the team will be assured a top-10 finish and improve upon its 11th place at the last World Championship in 2013.