France opened the semifinals on a 6-0 run – and it didn’t get much better from there for the United States.
The United States was held to a negative-.164 attack percentage as it lost to undefeated France 25-10, 25-17, 25-12 in the FIVB U19 World Championship semifinals on Thursday in Argentina.
This was the first U.S. semifinal appearance in the history of the bi-annual tournament. Despite the loss, the United States can still make the medal podium if it beats South Korea in the bronze-medal match on Friday.
Princeton commit Sean Kelly finished with a team-high nine kills against France. Kelley was the only U.S. player to have more than two kills and one of two players to have an attack percentage more than zero.
The United States hit in the negative for each of the three games, including a match-worst negative-.261 attack percentage during a 15-point opening-game loss.
French middle attacker Joris Seddik had a match-high seven blocks to help the team out-block the United States 15 to 3. Setter Amir Tizi-Oualou also contributed five blocks in the victory.
The United States entered this match with double-digit blocks in six consecutive matches to open the tournament.
Tizi-Oualou running the French offense had 15 excellent sets and guided the team to a .379 attack percentage against the United States.
Opposite Thomas Pujol led all players with 10 kills – and half of those kills coming in the second game. Outside attacker Mathis Henno, the younger brother of UC Irvine outside attacker Hilir Henno, added eight kills to help France reach the gold-medal match.
France will play Iran in the championship match on Friday with a chance to win the nations’ first gold medal at this tournament. Iran is making its fifth appearance in the gold-medal match and attempting to win its championship since 2017.
Iran defeated South Korea in four games in the other semifinal match on Thursday.
South Korea’s Seojin Yun in the loss led all players with 16 kills and hit .400.