Pepperdine recruit Taylor sparks USA to second-round upset vs. No. 4 Iran
Pepperdine incoming freshman outside attacker Joshua Taylor made the most of his chance in the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team’s second-round opener at the World Championship.
Coming off the bench midway through the first game, Taylor had a team-high 12 kills as No. 9 United States upset No. 4 Iran 22-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-17 on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.
Taylor replaced Pepperdine outside attacker Maurice Torres with the United States (3-1, 1-0 Pool E) trailing in the first game and remained on the court the rest of the match. Prior to this match, Taylor had started one game in the United States’ first three matches at the tournament.
Taylor was one of two U.S. players to finish the match with 12 kills.
Despite being held to two kills in the first game, BYU All-American outside attacker Taylor Sander finished with 12 kills.
This is the third match that Sander has led the United States in kills. Sander through the first round was in the tournament’s top five with 47 kills.
Long Beach State outside attacker Taylor Crabb also finished the match with nine kills.
Torres, who started all four matches for the United States and was third in the tournament with a .507 attack percentage, did not return to the court after being removed for Taylor.
The United States out-blocked Iran 22-10 as all six of the U.S. starters has at least three blocks.
UC Santa Barbara middle attacker Dylan Davis had a match-high six blocks, while Taylor was second on the team with four blocks.
In addition, the United States had a tournament-high seven aces in the victory. Stanford middle attacker Eric Mochalski lead all players with three aces.
The United States went on two large runs to pull away from Iran (2-2, 0-1 Pool E) in the second and third game.
Midway through the third game the United States went on a 11-3 run to open extend its lead to 18-8. The 10-point lead was the United States’ largest lead of the match.
With second game tied 19, the United States went on a 6-1 run to win the game even the match at 1-1. Taylor had one kill during the U.S. run and ended with second game with a game-high five kills.
Iran outside attacker Amir Ghafour finished with a match-high 13 kills.
This is the first time the United States won a second-round match since the World Championship changed its tournament format in 2009. The United States finished the 2009 second-round 0-3, including a five-game loss to Iran.
Along with United States and Iran, No. 2 Russia and No. 11 Spain the two other teams in Pool E. The top two teams after the three second-round matches will advance to the semifinals.
The United States will play its next second-round match against Spain on Saturday.
Russia is tied with the United States for first place in Pool E after it swept Spain in its second-round opener Friday.
The United States can clinch a spot in the semifinals Saturday if it defeats Spain and if Russia defeats Iran.