The U.S. youth national volleyball team held off three match points in the fourth sets versus Mexico Tuesday at the FIVB Girls’ U18 World Championship and went on to win in five, 17-25, 24-26, 25-19, 30-28, 15-10.
With that finish in Santa Fe, Argentina, the U.S. team now advances to the Top 16 of the tournament.
Outside hitter Madi Kubik picked the right time for a break out performance leading the U.S. out of the pool play round with medal hopes intact.
In the previous two matches Kubik had one kill on 17 attempts with zero blocks and zero aces. She went wild on Tuesday. Jumping into the line-up in the middle of the first set, Kubik had a match-high 31 points with 25 kills on 56 attempts, also leading the team with four blocks and two aces.
“Madison Kubik was fantastic today,” said U.S. coach Jim Stone. “She took great swings at critical match points to keep us alive in the fourth set.”
That fourth set was a heart stopper for Team USA fans, a loss to Mexico would likely have dropped the U.S. team out of the Top 16. Mexico playing tenacious defense had match point in the fourth … three times.
“We really fought back in the fourth,” said Kubik. “We played as a group.”
Kubik was a first-set substitution.
“I came on the court to help the team because that’s what I am here for, I’m happy.”
For the second match in a row, the young Americans got down early.
“It was a combination of great play by Mexico and erratic play on our part put us in a hole,” said Stone. “To the credit of the players, they raised their level, as Mexico continued to play great."
Setter Nicklin Hames said: “The game was really good, we were down 0-2 and we battled really hard. Mexico played really well and in the end we just played the bigger points better and won the match.”
Now the team wants to get off to a faster start.
“Looking to our next match, we just need to play better at the beginning because we tend to struggle in the beginning and then have to battle back,” said Hames. “We just need to start out ahead and earn points early so we can get some momentum going. It’s just going to be all us tomorrow.”
The team’s next opponent and start time to be determined awaiting the conclusion of pool play.
What does the win mean for the team?
“It means we get the opportunity to play more good teams,” said Stone.