- Japan didn't make it easy, but the U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team took its fourth victory - 3-1 (25-15, 21-25, 25-17, 25-15) in pool play at the 2006 FIVB World League on Sunday at the Target Center in Minneapolis and moved into the lead in Pool A.
The win improved the United States' record to 4-2. The stage is set for a showdown between the U.S. Men and Serbia & Montenegro, which fell to Poland 3-1 on Sunday (25-23 21-25 25-18 25-19) and lost its pool lead thanks to the tiebreaker, which is point differential. The U.S. Men will meet Serbia & Montenegro on Aug. 4-5 at the Spokane Memorial Arena in Spokane, Wash.
"The win for Poland really helps our cause," U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon said. "I strongly believe that we are in a better position to face Serbia & Montenegro than we were against Poland (which won two matches against the United States on July 14-15)."
Japan fell to 1-5 and will host Poland next weekend.
The U.S. Men were once again dominant at the net on Sunday, with 10 points on blocks as compared to Japan's two. The United States also had eight service aces.
Team USA had four players in double digits for scoring, led by St. Paul, Minn., native Jim Polster (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) with 15 points on 12 kills, two aces and one block. Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) added 13 points on 10 kills, one ace and two blocks. Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii) had 11 points and David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) had 10.
Japan turned to lefty Takahiro Yamamoto who answered with 17 points on 16 kills and a scoring block. Yusuke Ishijima had 11 points on 10 kills and an ace.
"(The U.S. Team) has been together for many years. They have good communication. This is a good year for them," said Japan Head Coach Tatsuya Ueta. "The ball-handling of setter Donald Suxho has been great."
The United States got out to a fast start in Game 1, taking leads of 9-3, and then 21-12 thanks to strong play at the net. Japan still did not have an answer for the U.S. blockers, who accounted for four points, including two from Lee. Team USA also had 12 points on kills and three aces.
The ease with which the U.S. Men won Game 1 may have made them overconfident, as they lost some intensity and let Japan take a 15-8 lead. The United States had only one scoring block in the game and six errors. Japan had 17 kills, led by Yamamoto Takahiro with seven in the set.
The U.S. Men came back in the third set as Stanley started and came away with two scoring blocks, an ace and a kill. The U.S. Men took a 12-6 lead, but let Japan pull to within one point at 16-15. However Polster got a kill to get the serve back and Lee served for five straight points.
"It was exciting to see Clay come out and do what we know he can do," Priddy said. "I like what Donny (Suxho) has been doing. I know when he's going to set me because it's the most difficult set possible. I like that."
The final set stayed close and the U.S. managed a 9-8 lead. However another Polster kill seemed to take the wind out of Japan's sails.
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 July 30, 2006
Serbia & Montenegro 4-2
Japan at USA
July 29-30 in Minneapolis, Minn.
(Twelve-man rosters can be updated between World League weekends)
1. David Lee (MB, Alpine, Calif.)
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.)
12 Tom Hoff (MB, 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, Japan - 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
Date: Aug. 12-13
Location: Katowice, Poland - Spodek
Date: Aug. 18-19
Opponent: Serbia & Montenegro
Location: Beograd, Serbia - Hall Pionir
World League Final
Date: Aug. 23-27