U.S. Men Close to World League Pool Victory After Sweep of Japan

June 24, 2007, 12 a.m. (ET)
ANAHEIM, Calif. (June 24, 2007) - The U.S. Men's National Team is just one victory away from locking up a trip to the FIVB World League final round in Poland following its second straight, 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-22) victory over host Japan on Saturday before 5,000 spectators in Kumamoto.

The victory improves the United States' record in Pool B to 8-2. The U.S. Men need one victory in next weekend's set of matches against host Italy to win the pool and advance to the final round. Second-place France has a 6-4 record following a 3-1 (25-23, 25-20, 25-27, 25-14) win over host Italy on Saturday. France will travel to Japan for its final weekend. Italy (3-5) and Japan (1-7), third and fourth respectively, have been mathematically eliminated from winning the pool.

Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.) led the U.S. scoring on Saturday with 13 points on six kills, six blocks and one ace. Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) and Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii) each had 11 points. Stanley had 10 kills and one ace and Priddy finished with nine kills and two blocks. Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.) scored 10 points on six blocks and four kills. Riley Salmon (League City, Texas) scored nine points on nine kills.

Japan's Yu Koshikawa led all scorers with 26 points on 23 kills, two blocks and one ace. Yusuke Ishijima and Takaaki Tomimatsu each scored nine.

U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) adjusted his starting roster from Friday, with Stanley at opposite and Hoff at middle blocker. The United States also started Priddy and Salmon at outside hitter, Millar at middle blocker, Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.) at setter and Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) at libero.

"When it is tight like it was today, it is one or two plays difference per set, and fortunately for us we were able to make those plays down the stretch," McCutcheon said. "I don't think today was our best match but a large proportion of that had to do with the fact that Japan played very well and put us under more pressure."

In the first set, Team USA held an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout. Ishijima reduced the gap to one point, and Koshikawa pulled Japan even at 10-10 with a spike from the left.

Tomimatsu's ace put Japan ahead 11-10. However the lead did not last long and the United States held a 16-14 edge at the second technical timeout.

Team USA seemed to have the set in hand at 22-18 and again at 23-21, but Japan would not give up and pulled back to within one at 24-23. A kill from Priddy finally gave the U.S. Men the set victory.

The United States surged ahead 15-10 in the second set, but when Japan won the next three points, McCutcheon called a timeout. The interruption worked, as Koshikawa's service error gave the United States a three-point cushion at the second technical timeout, 16-13.

Down 20-23, Japan called a timeout to halt the U.S. momentum. The ploy worked, and a Koshikawa ace pulled Japan to within one point at 22-23 and forced another U.S. timeout. But Priddy brought up set point at 24-22, and Salmon's dig enabled Stanley to make the winning kill from the right.

The U.S. Men spent much of the third set playing catch-up. Team USA trailed 7-8 at the first technical timeout and 15-16 at the second. Tomimatsu's block of Millar increased Japan's lead to 17-15. However Team USA regrouped and scored the next four points to take a 19-17 lead that it never gave up.

The United States will travel to Italy from Japan to play at Naples on June 29 and at Avellino on July 1, while Japan will host France at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on June 30 and July 1. The Italy-Japan matches held over from the first weekend of the Intercontinental Round will be played at Mantova on July 6 and Monza on July 8 to complete Pool B.

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

The U.S. World League home matches are presented by GL7, the Official Sports Drink of USA Volleyball.

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

The USA Volleyball FIVB World League web site is www.usavolleyball.org/national/wl07.asp.

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

Standings (as of June 23, 2007)

Pool A
1 Brazil 10-0
2 Finland 7-3
3 Korea 2-8
4 Canada 1-9

Pool B
1 USA 8-2
2 France 6-4
3 Italy 3-5
4 Japan 1-7

Pool C
1 Russia 8-1
2 Cuba 5-4
3 Serbia 5-4
4 Egypt 0-9

Pool D
1 Poland 9-0
2 Bulgaria 8-1
3 China 1-8
4 Argentina 0-9

Twelve-man roster
(Teams can adjust 12-man rosters between weekends)

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)
6 Phil Eatherton (MB, 6-9, Glencoe, Mo., Ball State)
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)

U.S. World League Schedule
Date: May 26-27
Opponent: France
Location: Portland, Ore. - The Chiles Center Arena
Match 1: France def. USA, 3-2 (13-25, 25-19, 25-17, 24-26, 15-13)
Match 2: USA def. France, 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 22-25, 25-20)

Date: June 1-2
Opponent: Japan
Location: Green Bay, Wis. - The Resch Center
Match 1: USA def. Japan, 3-1 (25-17, 23-25, 27-25, 25-19)
Match 2: USA def. Japan, 3-1 (20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-18)

Date: June 8-9
Opponent: France
Location: Lyon, France - Palais des Gerland
Match 1: France def. USA, 3-1 (25-22, 19-25, 38-36, 25-18)
Match 2: USA def. France, 3-1 (22-25, 29-27, 25-23, 25-21)

Date: June 15-16
Opponent: Italy
Location: Chicago, Ill. - The Convocation Center
Match 1: USA def. Italy, 3-1 (25-21, 25-21, 25-27, 29-27)
Match 2: USA def. Italy, 3-0 (25-19, 30-28, 25-23)

Date: June 23-24
Opponent: Japan
Location: Kumamoto - Kumamoto Prefectural Gymnasium
Match 1: USA def. Japan, 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-15)
Match 2: USA def. Japan, 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-22)

Date: June 29
Opponent: Italy
Location: Napoli - PalaBarbuto

Date: July 1
Opponent: Italy
Location: Avelino - Pal Del Mauro

World League Final
Date: July 11-15
Location: Katowice, Poland