Poulter, U.S. reach semifinals

Poulter, U.S. reach semifinals

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand — Illinois recruit Jordyn Poulter and the U.S. Girls’ Youth National Volleyball Team are headed to the semifinals of the FIVB Girls’ Under-18 World Championship, where a familiar foe awaits.

The Americans outbattled Poland 25-22, 25-20, 26-24 on Friday in the quarterfinals to remain in contention for a world title. Team USA (5-1) will face Brazil (5-1) on Saturday in one of the semifinals. In pool play earlier in the tournament, the fifth-ranked U.S. knocked off second-ranked Brazil in three sets.

“This will be a challenging rematch, but we are looking forward to playing a quality opponent,” Team USA coach Jim Stone said.

Top-ranked China and 10th-ranked Peru will square off in Saturday’s other semifinal.

Poulter, who started at setter and played the entire match against No. 6 Poland, finished with 33 running sets. The Class of 2015 commitment from Aurora, Colo., also recorded two kills and two blocks.

Although the Americans trailed Poland in kills (32-31) and service aces (6-5), the U.S. held a 15-9 advantage in blocks and committed six fewer errors.

“To beat a team of the quality of Poland by a 3-0 score was not expected,” Stone said. “Poland serves very well, and I thought we did an especially good job on receiving their very difficult serves.”