Boys' U19 World Championship 2023 - News.

USA (USA) vs. France (FRA) - Semifinals #6383370

French setter Amir Tizi-Oualou in action

France and Iran are set to lock horns in Friday’s final of the FIVB Volleyball Boys’ U19 World Championship in San Juan. In Thursday’s semifinals, the European team cruised to an emphatic straight-set win over United States, while Iran celebrated a four-set victory over Korea. It is already a historic success for France as they had never reached the final in the history of the competition before. The Iranians, however, will be playing for youth world championship gold for the fifth time after winning the title in 2007 and 2017 and settling for silver in 2001 and 2009.

In the first semifinal in Argentina, France snatched a landslide shutout of USA, convincingly outplaying the opponents on all counts, most visibly in blocking, with 15 stuffs against three. In attack, the French scored 32 times, close to twice as many as USA’s 18, and added six aces to their tally, against two for the Americans. At no moment during the game did the Europeans allow their opponents to take the lead, from the start of the match, which they stormed on a 5-0 run, until captain Mathis Henno put away the winner from the back row.

France’s opposite Thomas Pujol was the only player on the court to reach the double digits in scoring. He fired three aces, raised one kill block and spiked 10 points at a 59% success rate towards a match-high 14.

“I think the key to win the match today was our service and block. We did it very well and we managed to get the victory. We prepared this game with our staff and we’re proud of how we did it. For tomorrow, we need to keep playing like this. We feel so, so happy to reach the final for the first time. This is an amazing feeling!” French setter Amir Tizi-Oualou told Volleyball World. “At this World Championship, I’m enjoying a lot the way we’re playing, but I also really like San Juan and the crowd we have at the stadium every match.”

In the second semifinal, the world’s number two U19 team Iran came back from a set down against Korea to deliver a victory. With Lee Woojin owning the net and taking advantage of the abundant unforced errors on the opponents’ side, the Koreans dominated the first set to win it by a wide margin. However, Iran took over in the next three and comfortably cruised on towards a spot in the final.

Middle blocker Taha Behdoubnia put away four of Iran’s 15 kill blocks in the match (against eight for Korea), as well as one of their six aces (against none for Korea), to finish with a match-high 18 points to his name.  Seyed Matin Hosseini Tolouti (14), Mohammadreza Alejalil (13), Morteza Narimani (13) and Armin Ghelichniazi (10) also reached double figures on the winners’ side. Captain Yun Seojin was Korea’s most productive player with 17 points, followed by Lee Woojin with 16.

“It was a good game for us,” Taha Behdoubnia commented. “In the first set, we weren’t so clear and we missed it, but we got back to the game and won it. That first set was essential for us because we needed to wake up and be together to bounce back. I think we are a strong team. Now we have to play the final, so we need to recover and be concentrated to face France. The analysis for the game against France will be very important, so we will take care of the things the coach tells us and stay focused in the game. This is my first world championship and I’m preparing for the future. My dream is to play with Iran’s senior team.”

Friday’s final between France and Iran will start at 20:00 local time (23:00 UTC). USA and Korea will meet for the bronze at 17:00 (20:00).

Bulgaria will face Belgium in the match for the fifth place. On Thursday, the southern Europeans squeezed out a hard-fought victory over Egypt, with Kristian Titriyski and Aleksandar Kandev leading the way with 23 and 22 points, respectively. Egypt’s Shrief Helawy delivered the match high of 31 points. The Belgians also persevered through five sets against Italy to celebrate in the tie-breaker overtime, . Their opposite Eliot De Vleeschhauwer was the best scorer of the match with 23 points.

On the way to the ninth-place match, Brazil managed a victory over Mexico, while Slovenia achieved a win over Japan.

Hosts Argentina produced a comeback against Serbia to meet Colombia in a South American clash for the 13th place. The Colombians grabbed a tight win over Puerto Rico.

Despite a loss to Costa Rica in their last match of the tournament, India took the two sets needed to finish in 17th place, ahead of the Central Americans, who took 18th, and Chile, who ended up in 19th place.

Costa Rica (CRC) vs. India (IND) - Playoff 17-20 #6376604

Ecstatic Costa Ricans celebrate their first on-court win of the tournament