Playing in his first World Championship match, U.S. and BYU All-American outside attacker Taylor Sander was quick to make a name for himself
Sander had a match-high 11 kills as the No. 9 U.S. Men’s Junior National Team swept No. 15 Bulgaria 25-22, 25-18, 25-21 in its pool-play opener Monday at the World Championship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Sander, the 2011 AVCA NCAA Men’s Volleyball Freshman of the Year, led the United States (1-0, 1-0 Pool A) in the first game with a game-high five kills and two aces. The outside attacker also had a combined six kills in the final two games to help the United States get its first World Championship victory against Bulgaria in more than 10 years.
Along with Sander, the United States had two players finish the match with more than five kills. Pepperdine outside attacker Torres Maurice had 10 kills, while Long Beach State outside attacker Taylor Crabb had six kills.
UC Santa Barbara middle attacker Davis Dylan in the victory finished with a match-high four blocks.
Bulgaria (0-1, 0-1 Pool A) committed 23 errors in the loss — five more than the United States.
This is the third consecutive World Championship that the United States has won its pool-play opener.
The United States defeated Belarus in four games in 2009 and Egypt in five games in 2007. After winning these openers, the United States was able to advance beyond pool play in both World Championships.
The top two teams in each pool following the three-match pool-play round advance to the World Championship quarterfinals.
No. 7 Brazil and No. 13 Japan, the two other teams in the Pool A, will play their pool-play opener against each other Monday night.
The United States next pool-play match will be against Brazil on Tuesday. If the United States defeats Brazil it will clinch a spot in the quarterfinals.