BEIJING — The United States took sole possession of first place in the Beijing Olympics Group A Thursday night, downing Bulgaria in four sets, 27-29, 25-21, 25-14, 26-24.

Clayton Stanley pounded 18 kills and Ryan Millar added 14 to lead the U.S. (3-0), which is the only unbeaten team remaining in Group A, with two dates of pool action remaining before the start of the medal-round quarterfinals.

"We've got a bit of an advantage coming out of our pool first — it would be nice not to have to face Brazil and Russia until later," said Millar, the former BYU standout and interim co-head coach who recently moved to Alpine.

Next up for the United States is a Saturday morning match against host China (2-1) at the Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium, a different venue than the Capital Gymnasium, where the Americans played their first three matches.

"They're playing great volleyball right now — they're the surprise of the tournament," said Millar of the Chinese team. "Last time they played us, they beat us. But we're in a really nice spot right now, with three (wins) in a row. It's where we want to be."

Matey Kaziski paced Bulgaria (2-1) with 15 kills.

Coming into the Olympics, the United States was ranked No. 3 in the FIVB world rankings, and Bulgaria No. 4.


E-mail: taylor@desnews.com