USC middle attacker Andy Benesh showed why the U.S. coaching staff had such high praise for its middle attackers entering the FIVB U-21 World Championship.
Benesh finished with a match-high 17 kills and added three blocks as the United States defeated Iran 25-19, 21-25, 25-22, 24-26, 16-14 on Tuesday in Mexico for its first victory at the international tournament.
The United States (1-3, 2 points) in the decisive fifth game fought off an Iran match-point to force overtime and then won the next two points to secure the win in its Pool G opener. The victory also snapped the team’s three-match losing streak to open the tournament that resulted in the United States dropping into the consolation bracket.
Benesh led the team with a 70.83 percent hitting efficiency and was one of three U.S. players to have double-digit kills against Iran (1-3, 1 point). In addition, Lewis opposite George Perinar had 13 kills, while UCLA Freshmen All-American outside attacker J.T. Hatch added 12 kills.
UC Santa Barbara Freshmen All-American libero Hayden Boehle defensively led the United States with a tournament-high 17 digs.
The United States out-blocked Iran 12 to 10, including Loyola Freshmen All-American middle attacker Jeff Jendryk having a match-high five blocks. Along with Jendryk and Benesh, Pepperdine setter Soren Dion Kindem contributed three blocks.
Iran outside attacker Amin Esmaeilnezhad in the loss ended with a team-high 15 kills.
With this victory, the United States moves into the top half of the four-team Pool G. The team will continue the three-match pool-play round as it plays the host-nation Mexico on Wednesday.
If the United States beats Mexico, it will likely clinch a spot in the World Championship ninth place semifinals.