With the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team facing elimination from the World Championship, BYU All-American outside attacker Taylor Sander had his biggest performance at the international tournament.
Sander had a match-high 19 kills as the No. 9 United States defeated No. 13 Japan 25-20, 21-25, 25-18, 25-19 to advance to the second round of the World Championship on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The United States (2-1, 2-1 Pool A) entered this match tied for second place in Pool A after losing to No. 6 Brazil on Tuesday and had to beat Japan in at least four games to guarantee it would be one of the two Pool A teams advancing to the second round.
Sander, the 2011 AVCA NCAA Newcomer of the Year, was one of five U.S. players to finish the match with at least seven kills.
Long Beach State outside attacker Taylor Crabb had 10 kills, while Davis had eight kills and Stanford middle attacker Eric Mochalski had seven kills.
Pepperdine outside attacker Maurice Torres after leading the United States with four kills in the opening game finished the match with seven kills.
Torres, who entered today tied with Sander for the team lead in kills at 28, was removed from the starting lineup at the beginning of the third game and replaced by outside attacker Joshua Taylor. However, Torres returned to the court midway through the third game and played the entire fourth game for the United States.
Taylor had four kills in his brief stint on the court.
Japan outside attacker Takashi Dekita finished with a team-high 17 kills in the loss, one day after having a tournament-best 45 kills in a five-game victory against Bulgaria.
Sander and UC Santa Barbara middle attacker Dylan Davis also finished with a match-high three blocks. The United States out-blocked Japan (2-1, 2-1 Pool A) 13-4 in the victory
Following Japan getting four aces in its game two victory, the United States held Japan to one ace in the final two games.
The final Pool A standings will depend on the outcome of the match between No. 6 Brazil (2-0, 2-0 Pool A) and No. 15 Bulgaria (0-2, 0-2 Pool A) on Wednesday night.
The United States will finish in first place with a Brazil loss or if Brazil wins in five games. If Brazil wins in three or four games the United States would finish in second place.
Japan can only advance to the second round if last-place Bulgaria defeats Brazil in three or four games.
The first-place team in Pool A will move into Pool E for second round with Spain, Russia and the second-place team from Pool D. The Pool A second-place team will move into Pool F with Argentia, Indian and the first-place from Pool D.
The Pool D final standings will be decided later tonight.
This is the second time the United States has advanced to the second round of the World Championship since the tournament changed its format in 2009.
The United States advanced out of pool-play in 2009 but went 0-3 in the second round to finish the tournament in eighth place. The best a U.S. team has finished at World Championship in the last 10 years was seventh place at the 2007 World Championship.