U.S. placed into challenging pool for U21 World Championship

The United States did not get any breaks in the pool drawing for the upcoming FIVB U21 World Championship.

The FIVB unveiled on Wednesday the four pools for the 16-team international tournament that included the United States being placed in Pool B along with Russia, Turkey and Cuba.

Pool B is the only pool featuring three teams in the top 10 of the FIVB World Rankings. The United States is the third highest ranked team in the pool at No. 9, while the defending U21 World Champions Russia is at No. 1 and Turkey is ranked No. 6.

The opening round of the World Championship will be round-robin format with each team playing a match against every team in its pool. The top-two teams from each pool will advance to the second round of the bi-annual world event.

The United States at the most recent World Championship in 2015 failed to advance out of the opening round and finished the tournament in 11th place. The country has never medaled at this tournament, with its best performance being a fourth-place finish in 2011.

The United States under coach Jay Hosack earned a berth to this World Championship after beating Cuba in the gold-medal match of the 2016 U21 NORCECA Continental Championship.

Stanford outside attacker Jordan Ewert had a match-high 18 kills in the four-game victory. In addition, Long Beach State All-American setter Josh Tuaniga was named the most valuable player of the NORCECA tournament.

The World Championship will begin June 23 in the Czech Republic.

The United States has yet to unveil its roster for the World Championship. Hosack said in a recent interview with Off the Block his team will have a training session and play an exhibition match against Brazil before leaving for the Czech Republic later this season.

Pool A

Team How it qualified World Ranking
Poland CEV (European) Pool F champion 7
Canada At-large bid because of World Ranking 8
Morocco At-large bid because of World Ranking 15
Czech Republic Host nation 35

Pool B

Team How it qualified World Ranking
Russia At-large bid because of World Ranking 1
Turkey At-large bid because of World Ranking 6
United States NORCECA (North American) champion 9
Cuba Top North American finish at Pan Am Cup 13

Pool C

Team How it qualified World Ranking
Argentina CSV (South American) champion 2
Italy At-large bid because of World Ranking 5
Iran AVC (Asian) runner-up 11
Ukraine CEV (European) Pool E champion 15

Pool D

Team How it qualified World Ranking
China AVC (Asian) champion 3
Brazil Top South American finish at Pan Am Cup 4
Egypt CAVB (African) champion 11
Japan At-large bid because of World Ranking 14