U.S. Men in Fight for World League FinalANAHEIM, Calif. (Aug. 17, 2006) - The U.S. Men's National Team finds itself in a do-or-die situation this weekend when it plays Serbia & Montenegro in a 2006 FIVB World League match in Beograd and Novi Sad, Serbia.
The matches take place at 8 p.m. local time on Aug. 18-19, which is 11 a.m. PDT and 2 p.m. EDT. The matches will not be televised in the United States, but the FIVB provides live scoring updates at http://www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2006/Scorebox/Scorebox.asp?sm=123.
In order to win Pool A, the U.S. Men, with a 5-5 record, must win both matches against Serbia & Montenegro, 7-3, and hope that Japan, 1-9, can win both of its matches against 7-3 Poland in Poland. Poland and Serbia & Montenegro are tied for the Pool A lead. The winner of each of the four World League pools advances to the finals in Moscow, Russia, automatically. Russia, as host of the finals, gets an automatic bid to the finals and there is also a wild-card team that is determined by the FIVB.
Team USA finds itself in this situation after losing two World League matches in Poland on Aug. 12-13, where it not only faced a tough Polish team, but also more than 10,000 Polish fans at each match.
The U.S. Men looked to be in control in the first match when they won the first two sets, 25-17, 25-21. However, they would not win another set and ended up losing the first match 3-2 (25-17, 25-21, 19-25, 23-25, 15-17) and the second match 3-0 (22-25, 19-25, 23-25).
"We had chances to take control of the first match against Poland, but we weren't able to capitalize. So we hope to keep working on our consistency and execution down the stretch," said U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) via e-mail from Serbia. "We are learning some very important lessons during this World League campaign."
Despite the losses, McCutcheon said the team is not doing anything special to get motivated for Serbia & Montenegro.
"We try and play the best volleyball we can every time we step on the court," McCutcheon said. "This weekend is no different."
The two teams traded wins when they played on Aug. 4-5 in Spokane, Wash. Serbia & Montenegro won the first match 3-1 (13-25, 36-34, 25-22, 25-17) before the U.S. Men came back to win the second match 3-1 (27-25, 25-22, 25-27, 25-21).
Serbia & Montenegro's scoring leader is 6-foot-7 opposite Ivan Miljkovic, who, despite not playing in Serbia & Montenegro's first two matches, is tied for second in World League scoring with 171 points on 148 kills, 14 blocks and nine aces.
Outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.), 6-4, continues to lead the U.S. men in scoring and is sixth among World League scorers with 155 points on 131 kills, 18 blocks and six aces.
"There's absolutely nothing special about their offense, they're just super good players," Priddy said of Serbia & Montenegro when they played in Spokane. "Sometimes even when you know they are going to Miljkovic, you can't stop him."
For more U.S. World League information, go to http://www.usavolleyball.org/National/06worldLeague.asp.
The FIVB World League web site is http://www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2006/.
2006 FIVB World League Standings as of Aug. 13, 2006
Serbia & Montenegro 7-3
USA at Serbia & Montenegro
Aug. 18-19, 2006
Beograd and Novi Sad, Serbia
(Twelve-man rosters can be updated between World League weekends)
2 Pieter Olree (OH, Reading, Pa.)
3 Jim Polster (OH, Laguna Niguel, Calif.)
5 Rich Lambourne (L, Tustin, Calif.)
6 Phil Eatherton (MB, Glencoe, Mo.)
7 Donald Suxho (S, Korce, Albania)
8 Reid Priddy (OH, Richmond, Va.)
9 Ryan Millar (MB, Palmdale, Calif.)
12 Tom Hoff (MB, State Park Ridge, Ill.)
13 Clay Stanley (OPP, Honolulu, Hawaii)
14 Kevin Hansen (S, Newport Beach, Calif.)
15 Gabe Gardner (OH, San Clemente, Calif.)
16 Dave McKienzie (OPP, Littleton, Colo.)
U.S. World League Schedule
Date: July 14-15
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah - The "E" Center
Match 1: Poland defeats USA 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23)
Match 2: Poland defeats USA 3-1 (26-24, 25-13, 20-25, 25-22)
Date: July 22-23
Location: Hiroshima Green Arena
Match 1: USA defeats Japan 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-17)
Match 2: USA defeats Japan 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-18)
Date: July 29-30
Location: Minneapolis, Minn. - Target Center
Match 1: USA defeats Japan 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-18)
Match 2: USA defeats Japan 3-1 (25-15, 21-25, 25-17, 25-15)
Date: Aug. 4-5
Opponent: Serbia & Montenegro
Location: Spokane, Wash. - Spokane Memorial Arena
Match 1: Serbia & Montenegro defeats USA (13-25, 36-34, 25-22, 25-17)
Match 2: USA defeats Serbia & Montenegro (27-25, 25-22, 25-27, 25-21)
Date: Aug. 12-13
Location: Katowice - Spodek
Match 1: Poland def. USA (17-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-23, 17-15)
Match 2: Poland def. USA (25-22, 25-19, 25-23)
Date: Aug. 18-19
Opponent: Serbia & Montenegro
Location: Beograd - Hall Pionir
World League Final
Date: Aug. 23-27