Penn State’s Wildman spearheads U.S. comeback win against Peru in Pan Am Cup

Photo courtesy of the FIVB and NORCECA

Penn State outside attacker Brett Wildman came off the bench and helped lead the United States to a comeback victory at the U21 Pan American Cup.

Wildman was inserted into the starting lineup for the third game and finished the match with a team-high 11 kills as the United States rallied to beat the host nation Peru 20-25, 19-25, 25-20, 25-21, 15-11 on Friday in the fifth-place semifinals.

The United States pulled off the two-game comeback despite Peru having the higher offensive efficiency at 37.31 percent 30.34 percent. Wildman had a 34.38 percent offensive efficiency and was one of two U.S. players to hit above 30 percent.

Lewis recruit Michael Sack contributed seven kills and one attack error. The middle attacker also had a team-high two aces against Peru.

This was the second consecutive match that Wildman led the United States in kills. The outside attacker had a tournament-high 20 kills in the team’s five-game loss to Chile in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Along with his offensive performance, Wildman had a team-best three blocks to help the United States out-block Peru 9 to 7.

UCLA libero Garland Peed defensively led all players with both 16 digs and 20 excellent serve receptions. Peed now has more than 15 digs in back-to-back Pan American Cup matches.

Peru was attempting to win its first match of this international tournament and entered winning one set during the pool-play round.

Opposite Angel Cerpa had 14 kills on a 45.16 percent offensive efficiency and was one of three Peru players with double-digits kills.

With this victory, the United States will advance to play the Dominican Republic in the fifth-place finals on Saturday. The United States swept the Dominican Republic in the pool-play round to clinch a quarterfinals berth.

Despite being out of medal contention and not earning the tournament’s lone automatic bid to the FIVB U21 World Championship, the United States chances improved Friday of possibly earning the final at-large bid.

The top-five teams in the FIVB World Rankings not earning automatic bids will receive the at-large bids to the upcoming World Championship.

Canada, which at No. 8 is ranked ahead of the United States, clinched the Pan American Cup’s berth to the World Championship berth with its semifinal sweep against Puerto Rico on Friday. With this victory, both the United States and Italy are now slated to make the World Championship as the final two at-large teams.

The United States and Italy are in a three-way tied at No. 12 in the World Rankings. Tunisia is also tied at No. 12 but earned an automatic bid during the African Championship in September.