Host Argentina downs USA in girls youth volleyball finale

Menlo School junior Selina Xu got her first start of the tournament. Photo courtesy of FIVB.

The U.S. girls' youth national volleyball team finished eighth at the FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship, losing to Argentina Sunday 25-17, 25-19, 19-25, 30-28 in Rosario, Argentina.

Argentina (6-2) in front of their home crowd had their best World Championships finish since 1991.

The U.S. (3-5) started the tournament with a tough pool, but they battled out of pool play, beating Brazil, the 2017 South American champions, which started a three-match winning streak, qualifying for the quarterfinals.

The offense was diversified, with the middles getting more involved in the attack with Menlo School junior Selina Xu starting at setter.

Middle Kendall Kipp led U.S. scorers with 15 points with nine kills on 17 attempts, three blocks and three aces. Outside hitter Skylar Fields scored 12 points, five kills on 18 attempts, two blocks and five aces. Opposite Mica Allison had 10 points, six kills on 18 attempts, with four blocks.

"Today's match was kind of our tournament encapsulated," said U.S. coach Jim Stone. "We had chances to win points and win sets, but throughout the tournament, we just made too many errors per set and it comes back to bite you."

The U.S. had 40 errors in four sets.

"But I thought our team fought hard," Stone said. "They gave good effort and we came close. We didn't play well enough to get over the hump."

The tournament, featuring athletes under 18 years of age, was an opportunity to learn.

"I hope they leave here smarter and wiser, understanding the international game a little bit more," said the coach. "There's all sorts of learning opportunities that they've been exposed to. Hopefully, they take it and move forward in a good direction."

— USA Volleyball

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