U.S. Boys U19 celebrating historic win over Bulgaria
U.S. Boys U19 after historic win at Worlds

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 9, 2023) – The U.S. Boys U19 Team advanced to the semifinal round of the FIVB U19 World Championship for the first time in history with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 28-26) victory over Bulgaria in Wednesday’s quarterfinals in San Juan, Argentina. The team’s previous best finish at Worlds was seventh place.

The U.S. will face France in the semis at 2 p.m. PT on Thursday.


Outside hitter Sean Kelly led the U.S. offense with 19 points, including 18 kills (.359 hitting efficiency). Opposite Finn Kearney scored 13 points on nine kills and a team-high four blocks, while outside hitter Sterling Foley finished with 10 points on eight kills and two blocks.

The U.S. Boys U19 squad led Bulgaria in kills (45-43) and blocks (13-9) with both teams making relatively few errors. The U.S. hit at a .323 efficiency for the match.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” head coach Charlie Sullivan said. “They did a phenomenal job. We had a quick turnaround from last night’s match with Puerto Rico, so it wasn’t easy. [There were] a lot of demands on them and a really good Bulgarian team. I think our guys kept things really simple and played within themselves.”

Middle blocker Josh Aruya was successful on all five of his attacks, including the match-clincher at 27-26 in the third set. He added a block and an ace to total seven points. Setter Tread Rosenthal scored six points on three kills and three blocks in addition to leading the high-powered offense that recorded 31 kills and just three errors in the first two sets.

Middle blockers Tristan Whitfield and Kaumana Carreira each scored two points with Whitfield’s points coming on kills and Carreira’s on a pair of blocks.

Bulgaria jumped out to a 5-1 lead to begin the match, but the U.S. scored the next four points and eight of the next nine points to take a 9-6 lead. Bulgaria pulled within two points late in the set, 22-20, but the U.S. finished off the set with a block and two kills from Kearney. Kelly’s six kills paced the U.S. Boys U19 squad that hit .400 in the opening set.

Kelly and Foley each hit .556 with five kills in nine attacks in the second set, when the U.S. hit at a remarkable .536 clip with 16 kills and only one error in 28 total attacks. Kearney hit .400 with four kills and Rosenthal added two kills in three attacks. Bulgaria stopped two set points, but a Kelly kill gave the U.S. a 2-0 match lead.

The U.S. fell behind quickly in the third set, trailing 7-2 before eventually tying the set at 10-10. After falling behind 17-14, Bulgaria used a 4-1 run to even the set again at 18. From that point on, neither team took more than a two-point lead, which is the lead the U.S. had at 24-22. Bulgaria fought off both those match points and two more before the U.S. Boys U19 Team made history with kills from Rosenthal and Aruya. Kelly scored eight points on seven kills and one block in the set, Kearney added four points on a kill and three blocks, and Aruya recorded four of his five kills.

“They overmatched us physically at times,” Sullivan said. “We played into our physical strengths like passing the ball tight to Tread and letting him handle a lot of things up high, which is an extraordinary [asset], having that tall of a setter. We just tried to keep it simple with what we were going to do individually at the net, and then have our block and defense behind it, and take care of the rest.”

Boys U19 Roster for the World Championship

Name (Position, height, birth year, hometown, school, USAV Region)
1 Kellen Larson (L, 5-10, 2005, Irvine, Calif., Woodbridge High School, Southern California)
5 Marek Turner (Opp, 6-5, 2006, Long Beach, Calif., Woodrow Wilson High School, Southern California)
6 Victor Loiola (OH, 6-4, 2005, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Mira Costa High School, Southern California)
7 Trent Taliaferro (S, 6-5, 2005, San Clemente, Calif., JSerra Catholic High School, Southern California)
11 Finn Kearney (OPP, 6-5, 2006, Phoenix, Ariz., Sandra Day O’Connor High School, Arizona)
12 Sterling Foley (OH, 6-6, 2005, Newport Beach, Calif., Corona del Mar High School, Southern California)
13 Sean Kelly (OH, 6-6, 2005, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Loyola High School, Southern California)
14 Sebastiano Sani (OH, 6-8, 2005, Bethesda, Md., Walter Johnson High School, Chesapeake)
15 Josh Aruya (MB, 6-7, 2005, Mission Viejo, Calif., Mission Viejo High School, Southern California)
16 Tread Rosenthal  (S, 6-7, 2006, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Mira Costa High School, Southern California)
17 Tristan Whitfield (MB, 6-7, 2005, Virginia Beach, Va., Cape Henry Collegiate, Old Dominion)
19 Kaumana Carreira (MB, 6-8, 2005, Mission Viejo, Calif., Tesoro High School, Southern California)

Head Coach: Charlie Sullivan (Head Coach, Springfield College)
Assistant Coach: Lindsay Brown (Assistant Coach, Loyola of Chicago)
Assistant Coach: Jonah Carson
Performance Analyst: Evan Metzger (Performance Analyst, Springfield College)
Athletic Trainer: Rachel Menze (CSUN)
Team Leader: Sam Shweisky (Head Coach, Princeton)

2 Roan Alviar (L, 5-11, 2006, Hayward, Calif., Bishop O’Dowd High School, Northern California)
3 Cole Hartke (OH , 6-10, 2006, Barrington, Ill., Barrington High School, Great Lakes)
4 Caleb Sapp (Opp, 6-8, 2006, Upland, Calif., Claremont High School, Southern California)
8 Ryan Gant (S, 6-5, 2006, Newport Beach, Calif., Corona del Mar High School, Southern California)
9 Jack Mally (OH, 6-6, 2005, Geneva, Ill., Geneva High School, Great Lakes)
10 Isaiah Preuitt (MB, 6-8, 2005, Portland, Ore., Central Catholic High School, Columbia Empire)
18 Gaige Gabriel (MB, 6-8, 2005, Birdsboro, Pa., Exeter Township High School, Keystone)
20 Grant Lamoureux (OH, 6-9, 2007, Clemmons, N.C., West Forsyth High School, Carolina)

U.S. Schedule for the 2023 FIVB Boys U19 World Championship
Matches will be shown on the Volleyball World YouTube channel
All times PDT

Aug. 3 USA def. Costa Rica, 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-15)
Aug. 4 USA def. Egypt, 3-0 (25-14, 25-18, 26-24
Aug. 5 USA def. Argentina, 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-20)
Aug. 6 Serbia def. USA, 3-1 (25-22, 18-25, 25-21, 25-13)
Aug. 8 Round of 16: USA def. Puerto Rico 3-0 (28-26, 25-17, 25-17)
Aug. 9 Quarterfinals: USA def. Bulgaria (25-21, 25-21, 28-26)
Aug. 10 Semifinals, 2 p.m. USA vs. France
Aug. 11 Finals and classification matches