Natacha Pisarenko, Associated Press
Bountiful native Jake Gibb, right, celebrates with teammate Sean Rosenthal after defeating Japan in a 3-set beach volleyball match on Thursday. Thursday.

BEIJING — The U.S. men's beach volleyball team of Bountiful native Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal won their four-team pool in convincing fashion with a culminating three-set victory Thursday night over Japan's Katsuhiro Shiratori and Kentaro Asahi.

That made it 3-0 in preliminary play and sent the Gibb-Rosenthal pairing on to the round of 16, where they will face Spain's Herrera-Mesa duo Saturday at 10 p.m. The winner moves on to the quarterfinals.

Gibb and Rosenthal survived an upset scare from Shiratori and Asahi, winning 21-15, 19-21, 18-16. It was the only set the Americans lost in three preliminary matches.

"We needed that kind of match right now — we haven't had any close matches so far," Gibb said. "It was a good test — we need to be tested here at the Olympics."

There will be tests here on out, with Saturday's winner likely to face the powerhouse Brazilian Ricardo-Emanuel side, the defending Olympic champions.

But for now, Gibb and Rosenthal will enjoy the ride.

"The next match will be the match of our lives, so we're looking forward to that," Gibb said. "Each match has been more important than the other ... We'll keep our excitement, celebrating every point — that's how we play best."

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