France Defeats U.S. Men in World League Battle Royale

May 26, 2007, 12 a.m. (ET)
PORTLAND, Ore. (May 26, 2007) -- Led by powerful hitting from Bojidar Slavev and Romain Vadeleux and the consistency of setter Pierre Pujol, the French Men's Volleyball Team shook off a 13-25 first-set loss to defeat the U.S. Men, 3-2 (13-25, 25-19, 25-17, 24-26, 15-13), in their opening FIVB World League match on Saturday at the Chiles Center Arena.

A boisterous crowd of approximately 2,350 did its best to encourage the U.S. team to victory, which reacted with intensity and passion.

"We were living and dying by our offense tonight. We hit for a high efficiency in the first set, but France got going on their side and we hiccupped," said U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand).

Gabe Gardner (San Clemente, Calif.) led the U.S. Men with 20 points on 16 kills and four blocks. Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) added 19 points on 14 kills, four aces and one block. Ryan Millar added 15 points on 11 kills, three blocks and one ace.

Slavev led France with 18 points on 15 kills, two blocks and one ace. Romain Vadeleux added 13 points on 10 kills and three blocks.

As promised, McCutcheon changed his lineup frequently. Every U.S. player on the 12-man roster saw playing time with the exception of outside hitter Jim Polster (Laguna Niguel, Calif.).

In the third set, with the United States kill percentage at 16 percent, McCutcheon substituted Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.) for Brandon Taliaferro (San Clemente, Calif.) at setter, which seemed to spark the offense.

"I thought the setting change on our side made a difference in the distribution and fueled our comeback," McCutcheon said. "It's a game of inches, and it came right down to the end in the fifth set."

The deciding fifth set was a battle royale with the two teams scoring back and forth. France seemed to have the edge with a 13-10 lead. But Gardner's tip brought the U.S. Men back to within one and Priddy responded with his fourth ace of the match.

France tried to ice Priddy by calling a timeout, but the U.S. Men tied the score at 13-13 on Gardner's block of Guillame Samica.

Antonin Rouzier came to France's rescue with a kill that Hansen couldn't dig. The United States' attempted block of Rouzier went out of bounds and the match was over.

"There were two important things for us tonight: When Samica came on, and when Pujol, who started off poorly, got better. Pujol conducts our offensive system very well," said French Head Coach Philippe Blain.

The United States dominated Set 1 while France struggled to get its offense going. Priddy had three aces of his four aces in the set, including the winning point. Gardner had six kills in the set and Priddy had five.

Team USA led 8-5 at the first technical timeout. With the United States leading 9-6, Priddy took the serve after David Lee's kill and opened with an ace. Lee's stuff block and another Priddy ace forced France to call a timeout with the score 12-6. The "icing" worked and Priddy sent his next serve out of bounds.

By then the damage was done to France and it never got closer than five points to the U.S. lead. The United States' attack percentage in the first set was 67 percent while France's was 12 percent

France came back in Set 2 to take an 8-6 lead into the first technical timeout. The United States later pulled to an 11-11 tie, but could not grab the lead as Frantz Granvorka's kill and Samica's dink gave the French the next two points.

With the French leading 18-15, Pujol served for the next five points and put the game out of reach.

Team USA fell behind 4-1 in the third set and never led. France led 8-5 at the first timeout and 16-10 at the second. The U.S. kill percentage was 16.

The fourth set saw the U.S. Men with a 23-21 lead. Crowd noise forced France to call a timeout and this time, the icing worked as Oliver Kieffer got the serve back with a kill. France's stuff block tied the score at 23-23 and it was the United States' turn to call timeout.

With the scored tied again at 24-24, Samica's serve went long and France's final block went out of bounds for the 26-24 U.S. game victory.

All U.S. matches 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.

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

The FIVB World League Web Site is www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2007.

2007 FIVB World League

Standings

Pool A
1 Canada 1-1
2 Finland 1-1
3 Brazil 1-0
4 Korea 0-1

Pool B
1 France 1-0
2 USA 0-1
3 Japan 0-0
4 Italy 0-0

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

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

U.S. Roster
France at USA
May 26-27, 2007 in Portland, Ore.
(Twelve-man rosters can be updated between World League weekends)

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 C Riley Salmon (OH, 6-6, League City, Texas, Pierce College)
14 Kevin Hansen (S, 6-5, Newport Beach, Calif., Stanford)
15 Gabe Gardner (OH, 6-9, San Clemente, Calif., Stanford)
16 Dave McKienzie (OPP, 6-4, Littleton, Colo., Long Beach State)

2007 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)

Date: June 1-2
Opponent: Japan
Location: Green Bay, Wis. - The Resch Center

Date: June 8-9
Opponent: France
Location: Lyon, France - Palais des Gerland

Date: June 15-16
Opponent: Italy
Location: Chicago, Ill. - The Convocation Center

Date: June 23-24
Opponent: Japan
Location: Kumamoto - Kumamoto Prefectural Gymnasium

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
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