The United States won gold for the first time at the International Volleyball Federation Girls’ Under-18 World Championships as they defeated Italy in a thrilling five-set final at Ismailia in Egypt.
Led by Jessica Mruzik, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, the United States – who had taken silver in 2013 and 2015 – came through 25-17, 19-25, 25-18, 22-25, 15-10 in what was the first final to go to five sets since 2003.
Italy, seeking a third consecutive title, were missing their star opposite Giorgia Frosini, who had had a brilliant tournament throughout, but got injured just at the very end of the fourth set in the semi-final against China the previous evening.
Italy took a 5-1 lead in the tie-break but the United States turned the run of play and reached match point with five to spare, settling the medals with the second of them to trigger wild celebrations.
Brazil, beaten by the eventual champions in the semi-final, recovered their momentum to take bronze, beating China 25-18, 25-18, 22-25, 27-25.
Earlier in the day, Japan claimed fifth place with a 25-23, 25-23, 25-15 win over Romania.
Russia took seventh place after beating Peru 25-12, 25-16, 25-15.