U.S. stifles Puerto Rico offense, advances to U19 Worlds quarterfinals

Photo courtesy of the FIVB

The block once again came through for the United States in a critical moment.

Caiden Carreira and Hawai’i commit Finn Kearney had back-to-back blocks in the first-game overtime as the United States swept Puerto Rico 28-26, 25-17, 25-17 in the round of 16 at the FIVB U19 World Championship on Tuesday in Argentina.

The United States out-blocked Puerto 13 to 6 en route to reaching the quarterfinals for the third time in the 34-year history of the bi-annual tournament.

Kearney finished with a match-high three blocks, including the block in the first-game overtime that set up the game-winning point. Princeton middle attacker Tristan Whitfield also contributed three blocks, while UC Santa Barbara middle attacker Josh Aruya and Hawai’i setter Tread Rosenthal each had two blocks.


Carreira’s only block of the match fought off a potential Puerto Rico game-point and helped jumpstart the U.S. comeback win in the first-game overtime.

This was the fifth consecutive match at the tournament that the United States had double-digit blocks.

The United States limited Puerto Rico to zero attack percentage. In addition, Puerto Rico was held to a negative attack percentage in both the second and third games of the sweep.

Three U.S. players had more than five kills as Rosenthal guided the offense to a .308 attack percentage.

Both Princeton commit Sean Kelly and USC commit Sterling Foley led all players with nine kills. Kearney also had seven kills against Puerto Rico.

George Mason outside attacker Franco Roark in the loss led Puerto Rico with six kills.

The United States with this victory will advance to play Bulgaria in the quarterfinals. Bulgaria defeated Brazil in five games in its round of 16 match on Tuesday.

Bulgarian setter Simeon Nikolov led the offense to a .330 attack percentage against Brazil. The younger brother of former Long Beach State outside attacker Alex Nikolov also leads the tournament 109 excellent sets.