The United States path to the gold medal at the World University Games just became a little more challenging.
Entering the match tied for first place in its pool, the United States lost to the Czech Republic 23-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-27, 15-13 on Monday in Shenzhen, China to drop into third place.
The top two teams in each pool at the end of the five-match pool-play round will advance to the World University Games quarterfinals.
With the victory, the Czech Republic (3-0, 3-0 Pool D, 6 points) remains in a tie for first place with Thailand. The United States (2-1, 2-1 Pool D, 5 points) will now have to win its two remaining pool play matches against the last-place United Arab Emirates (0-3, 0-3 0 points) and Thailand (3-0, 3-0 Pool D, 6 points) to be assured a spot in the quarterfinals.
Former UC Santa Barbara outside attacker Jeff Menzel led the United States with 23 kills in the loss.
This was the third consecutive match that Menzel has finished with a team-high in kills. In addition, it was the most kills for any U.S. player so far this tournament.
Menzel was one of three U.S. players to have at least 10 kills as the United States out-hit the Czech Republic .367 to .357.
Stanford outside attacker Brad Lawson had 14 kills, while UCLA middle attacker Thomas Amberg added 10 kills.
Czech Republic outside attacker Jakub Rybnicek in the victory finished with a match-high 29 kills.
The second-game loss marked the first time the United States had dropped a game during the tournament. The United State prior to that game had won seven consecutive games, including sweeps against Mexico and Turkey.
The United States next pool-play match will be against the United Arab Emirates at 3 a.m. (EST) Tuesday.