Medal dreams fall short, U.S. loses to South Korea in U19 Worlds finale

Photo courtesy of the FIVB

The deepest run in U.S. history at the FIVB U19 World Championship ended just short of the medal podium.

The United States came within two points of coming back from a two-game deficit as it lost to South Korea 25-18, 25-19, 21-25, 23-25 in the bronze-medal match at the international tournament on Friday in Argentina.

South Korea en route to taking a two-game lead had a match-high .526 attack percentage in the first game and for the match out-hit the United States .311 to .248. The United States, though, limited South Korea to less than a .225 attack percentage in the final two games.

Three U.S. players in the loss had double-digit kills.


USC commit Sterling Foley led all players with 19 kills, including having a match-high six kills in the final game. Princeton commit Sean Kelly finished with 17 kills on a .355 attack percentage, while Hawai’i commit Finn Kearney added 13 and hit .310.

Kelly also finished the event leading the United States and in the top 10 among all players at the tournament with 100 kills.

The United States out-blocked Japan 11 to 8 with Hawai’i setter Tread Rosenthal and UC Santa Barbara middle attacker Josh Aruya each having a match-high three blocks. This was the seventh time in the team’s eight tournament matches that the United States finished with double-digit kills.

South Korea outside attacker Seojin Yun had a team-high 15 kills on a .346 attack percentage to help the country earn its first medal at the U19 World Championship since 1993.

Setter Gwanwoo Kim along with running the offense was serving for the majority of a 6-1 run during the fourth game to give South Korea a 21-16 lead.

The United States later in the game fought off two match-points before committing a service error to end the match.

Despite the loss, the fourth-place finish for the United States was its best finish in the 34-year history of the tournament. The best prior finish for the United States was seventh place in 1995 and 2015.