U.S. Men Defeat France, Advance to World League Semifinals

July 12, 2007, 12 a.m. (ET)
B.J. Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800

ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 12, 2007) - The U.S. Men's National Team came back from a 13-19 deficit in the third set to defeat France, 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 28-26) in the final round of the FIVB World League on Thursday in Katowice, Poland.

The victory ensures that the U.S. Men (1-0) will advance to Saturday's semifinals, as France drops to 0-2 in Pool E. Team USA will face hometown favorite Poland (1-0) on Friday (2 p.m. EDT) to determine the pool winner. The Pool E winner will face the second-place team from Pool F in the semifinals and vice versa. It is the first time the United States has advanced to the World League semifinals since it finished third in 1992.

France and the United States were facing off for the fifth time in 2007 World League play as they were both in Pool B and split their four matches with each winning two. The U.S. Men advanced to the final round by winning the pool while France was awarded the FIVB wild card to advance.

Gabe Gardner (San Clemente, Calif.) led the U.S. Men with 16 points on 16 kills. Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) and Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.) each contributed 10 points. Priddy had nine kills and one ace. Millar had eight kills, one block and one ace.

David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) kicked in eight points on four kills and four blocks and Riley Salmon (League City, Texas) scored seven points on five kills, one block and one ace.

France's Frantz Granvorka led all scorers with 17 points on 15 kills, one block and one ace.

U.S. Men's Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) started Gardner at opposite, Priddy and Salmon at outside hitter, Lee and Millar at middle blocker, Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.) at setter and Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) at libero.

Middle blocker Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.), opposite Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawai'i) and outside hitter Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.) all entered the match as substitutes, but did not score.

"We were well prepared for this game - we were playing against France for the fifth time now," Hoff said. "They made some changes and pushed on in the end of the match. We have a great team - Poland, to play with tomorrow and we are fully focused on that."

Perhaps fatigued from a five-set loss to Poland on Wednesday night, France committed 24 unforced errors, including 11 in the first set, as opposed to 16 by the United States.

After winning the first two sets by relatively easy margins, the U.S. Men let their guard down in the third and immediately fell behind. French Coach Philippe Blain sparked his team by replacing starting setter Pierre Pujol with Loïc Le Marrec, and it worked as Granvorka and Xavier Kapfer, who had entered the match in the first set as a substitute, each reeled off six kills in the set.

Trailing 13-18, McCutcheon called a timeout. Granvorka responded with another kill to make it 13-19, but Millar started the U.S. comeback on the next play with a kill off a quick set. Team USA scored the next four points to pull to within one, 18-19. Kapfer put an end to the U.S. charge with a kill, but the damage was done.

France reached set point first at 24-23, but a Salmon kill tied the score. Romain Vadeleux's block gave France set point again, but this time Millar responded with a kill. A scoring block by Hansen gave the United States the match point at 26-25, but a U.S. error tied the score for France.

Finally, Gardner attacked from the back row to put the U.S. Men ahead 27-26 and Millar put an end to things with another quick-set kill.

"Kapfer came from the bench and helped his team significantly." McCutcheon said. "Granvorka is a good player and he was hurting us on the right side as well.

"The most important and satisfying thing is that we came back to play in the end of the third set and won. It bodes well for the matches ahead."

View the box from this match at http://www.fivb.org/vis_web/volley/wl2007/pdf/P2-100.pdf.

All World League matches played in the United States and the World League finals are scheduled to be shown on ESPNU.

View a video interview with U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon at http://worldleague2007.splinder.com/.

Results, statistics and photos are available on the FIVB World League Web Site at www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2007.

The 2007 U.S. Men's media kit is available at www.usavolleyball.org/media/national/us_men_mediakit07.pdf (please note that this is a large PDF file).

2007 FIVB World League

Final Round Schedule

Pool E
July 11: Poland def. France, 3-2 (38-36 19-25 21-25 25-21 15-11)
July 12: USA def. France, 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 28-26)
July 13: Poland vs. USA, 11 a.m. PDT

Pool F
July 11: Bulgaria def. Brazil, 3-2 (21-25, 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 15-12)
July 12: Russia def. Bulgaria, 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-21)
July 13: Russia vs. Brazil, 8 a.m. PDT

July 14
SF1: F winner vs. E second, 8 a.m. PDT
SF2: E winner vs. F second, 11 a.m. PDT

July 15
Loser SF1 vs. Loser SF2, 8 a.m. PDT
Winner SF1 vs. Winner SF2, 11 a.m. PDT

U.S. 12-Man Roster

No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
2 Sean Rooney (OH, 6-9, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
3 Jim Polster (OH, 6-6, Laguna Niguel, Calif., Long Beach State)
4 Brandon Taliaferro (S, 6-5, San Clemente, Calif., UCLA)
5 Rich Lambourne (L, 6-3, Tustin, Calif., BYU)
7 David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
8 Reid Priddy (OH, 6-5, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
9 Ryan Millar (MB, 6-8, Palmdale, Calif., BYU)
10 Riley Salmon (OH, 6-6, League City, Texas, Pierce College)
12 Tom Hoff (MB, 6-8, Park Ridge, Ill., Long Beach State)
13 Clay Stanley (OPP, 6-9, Honolulu, Hawai'i, Hawai'i)
14 Kevin Hansen (S, 6-5, Newport Beach, Calif., Stanford)
15 Gabe Gardner (OH, 6-9, San Clemente, Calif., Stanford)