U.S. Men Punch Ticket to Poland

June 29, 2007, 12 a.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800

ANAHEIM, Calif. (June 29, 2007) - The U.S. Men's National Team advanced to the final round of the FIVB World League for the first time since 2000 by capturing Pool B with a 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-16, 31-29) victory over Italy on Friday in Naples.

The victory improves the U.S. Men's record to 9-2, putting them out of reach of second-place France (6-4). The U.S. Men will play one more match against Italy (3-6) on Sunday, July 1, in Avelino at the Pala Del Mauro. Match time in Italy is 5 p.m. (8 a.m. PDT; 11 a.m. EDT). The World League final round will be played July 11-15 in Katowice, Poland.

Live scoring and statistics are available on the FIVB World League web site at www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2007/LiveScore/?sm=121.

Five of the U.S. starters scored in double digits, led by opposite Gabe Gardner (San Clemente, Calif.) with 26 points on 24 kills, one block and one ace. World League scoring leader and starting outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) added 17 points on 13 kills, three blocks and one ace.

Outside hitter Riley Salmon (League City, Texas) scored 13 points on 12 kills and one ace. Middle blocker Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.) scored 11 points on eight kills and three blocks and middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) tallied 10 points on six kills, two blocks and two aces.

Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.) started at setter and did not score, but was credited with 98 sets and no faults. Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) played libero and was credited with 17 "excellent" service receptions and one fault.

Middle blocker Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.), opposite Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawai'i) and outside hitter Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.) all substituted for the United States but did not score.

Outside hitter Matej Cernic led Italy with 15 points on 13 kills and two blocks. Middle blocker Andrea Sala added 12 points on seven kills, four blocks and one ace. Opposite Mauro Gavotto scored 11 points on nine kills, one block and one ace.

Not wanting to play a fifth set, Team USA battled back from Italy's set point six times in the fourth. The U.S. Men led the set 8-6 at the first technical timeout and 16-14 at the second. However Italy came back to tie the score at 18-18 and later took its first set point at 24-23. Lee's block of Gavotto tied the score at 24-24.

The Italians held set point at 25-24, 26-25, 27-26 and 28-27. Each time, the United States tied the score.

Finally, with Italy leading 29-28, Gardner put away his 23rd kill to tie the score. His 24th kill gave Team USA the match point at 30-29. Italian Head Coach Gianpaolo Montali called a timeout. But Cernic's attack went out of bounds, giving the United States the victory.

"It was important not to let it go to a fifth set," Gardner said. "We did not want to risk losing the match."

"The key to the match was our serve receive and, even more importantly, avoiding the fifth set," U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) added. "Now we want to repeat this success on Sunday in Avelino."

The United States last reached the World League final round in 2000 along with the host Netherlands Brazil, Italy, Russia and Yugoslavia. The U.S. Men finished sixth. Italy defeated Russia in the final and Brazil defeated Yugoslavia for third place. In 1992, the U.S. Men won the World League bronze medal.

On Friday, in the first set, the U.S. Men led 8-4 at the first technical timeout and 16-8 at the second. They built the lead to 18-9 before Italy came back and scored the next five points. However the United States maintained the lead for the 25-18 victory.

A crowd of 4,250 cheered on the Italians in the second set as they took an 8-6 lead at the first technical timeout. Italy maintained a one or two-point lead until Team USA tied the score at 11-11. The United States held a 16-14 lead at the second technical timeout, but this time Italy battled back to tie the score at 17-17. Italy reached set point at 24-22. Lee's kill cut the lead to one, but Italy called a timeout and Cernic came back with his own kill to give his team the set win.

Team USA never trailed in the third set, leading 8-6 at the first technical timeout and 16-10 at the second. The U.S. Men extended their lead to 20-11 before eventually winning 25-16.

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 were 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 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 29, 2007)

Pool A
1 Brazil 11-0
2 Finland 7-4
3 Korea 2-8
4 Canada 1-9

Pool B
1 USA 9-2
2 France 6-4
3 Italy 3-6
4 Japan 1-7

Pool C
1 Russia 10-1
2 Cuba 6-5
3 Serbia 6-5
4 Egypt 0-11

Pool D
1 Poland 11-0
2 Bulgaria 8-3
3 China 2-8
4 Argentina 0-10

U.S. 12-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)

Italy 12-Man Roster

No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown)
2 Manuel Coscione (S, 6-2, Cuneo)
5 Giordano Mattera (S, 6-6, Civitavecchia)
7 Alessandro Paparoni (OH, 6-3, San Severino Marche)
9 Christian Savani (OH, 6-4, Castiglione delle Stiviere)
10 Luca Tencati (MB, 6-7, Cremona)
11 Mauro Gavotto (OPP, 6-7, Cuneo)
12 Matteo Martino (OH, 6-6, Novi Ligure)
13 Lorenzo Perazzolo (OH, 6-5, Mantova)
16 Cristian Casoli (L, 6-4, Varese)
17 Andrea Sala (MB, 6-7, Gallarate)
18 Matej Cernic (OH, 6-4, Gorizia)
19 Cosimo Marco Piscopo (MB, 6-9, Gagliano del Capo)

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: Naples - PalaBarbuto
Match 1: USA def. Italy, 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-16, 31-29)

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

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