FIVB U21 Championships
Classification Matches 13-16
United States 3, Morocco 0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-21)
Japan 3, Czech Republic 2 (22-25, 20-25, 25-21, 25-15, 15-13)
The United States won its second match of the tournament, sweeping Morocco, and will play for 13th place on Sunday. The Americans will face Japan, which topped the host Czech Republic side in five sets in classification play.
United States 3, Morocco 0
The Americans cut down on their errors and put together a balanced attack in a sweep of Morocco on Saturday. Team USA outblocked its foes 14-8, while also downing 36 kills (to 31) and adding three aces.
“It is never easy and we respect all our opponents equally,” USA coach Jay Hosack said. “I give a lot of heads up to Morocco, they kept fighting. I also give a lot of credit to my guys, this match was maybe not a heated battle as some of the other ones but you still have to keep the focus.”
After cruising through an opening set 25-18 win, the Americans kept the pressure on, hitting at a 58 percent kill efficiency. The United States wrapped up the match by keeping its errors low in a 25-21 victory.
With starters Brett Rosenmeier, Kyle Ensing and Scott Stadick playing just the first set, that opened the door for some new players to star. Dylan Missry led the way with nine points, including a team-best seven kills and two blocks, in just two sets. Austin Matautia added eight points, with five kills, two blocks and an ace. Patrick Gasman, one of only three starters to play in all three sets, added six points, including four kills. Eight different players tallied three or more kills in the match as the team went 12 deep in its lineup.
Oussama Elazhari put up a match-high 11 points, all on kills. Mohamed En-Nakhai added eight points, with seven kills, and Soufiane El Gharrouti chipped in seven points.
“It is a disappointment, but all the games are important,” Moroccan coach Mohammed Abdellaoui Maan said. “Even losing this match is important because this is the only way to progress.”
Japan 3, Czech Republic 2
After dropping the first two sets, Japan rallied to steal away the five-set win over the host Czech Republic.
Japan led 8-4 in Set 1, but could not hold off a Czech rally. Set 2 was nearly all in favor of the home team. At intermission, the Japanese made adjustments and came out with a 68 percent kill efficiency in 25-21 Set 3 win. Japan cruised to a 10-point win in Set 4 and clinched the match at 15-13 in the fifth on a Czech service error.
“We were leading in the first two sets but the Czechs caught up on us,” Japanese coach Fumitoshi Tokunaga said. “We felt that they are a very strong team. In the end, we received better.”
Japan outdid the Czechs at the net with 61 kills (to 58) and eight blocks (to 5), but the home side outserved them 8-3. The Czechs did aid the Japanese effort with 35 errors, seven more than they received.
Kento Miyaura led all scorers with 21 points for Japan, including 20 kills. Yudai Arai (19) and Kenyu Nakamoto (13) followed. Arai added 17 putaways, while Nakamoto downed 12. Takaki Koyama led the blocking front with four stuffs.
Matej Smidl led a trio of double-digit scorers for the Czechs, tallying 20 points, with 18 kills and two blocks. Donovan Dzavoronok added 19 points, with 17 kills and two aces, while Lukas Vasina chipped in 14 points, with 13 kills and a block. Martin Hudak paced the service game with three aces.
“At first I want to congratulate Japan for the win,” Czech captain Kristian Cervinka said. “It was a fantastic game for us but it was the same like three matches ago, we led by 2-0 and didn’t win. It might be something in our heads why we play so bad in the fourth sets this tournament.”