U.S. Men Hold Off Argentina in Battle at the Bren

May 28, 2008, 10:28 a.m. (ET)
B.J. Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org     

The 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Exhibition for Volleyball is scheduled to be shown on MSNBC at noon ET on June 1.

IRVINE, Calif. (May 27, 2008) - A  young Argentinean team put up a fight, but could not outlast the U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team on Tuesday as Team USA won a five-set battle 19-25, 27-29, 25-20, 25-20, 15-12 at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Exhibition for Volleyball at the Bren Center on the campus of UC Irvine.

Almost 3,000 raucous fans cheered on the U.S. Men, who were led by Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) with 19 points on 16 kills and three blocks. Argentina's players, all of whom are younger than 30, were led by Lucas Chavez with 22 points on 17 kills, three blocks and two aces.

The Argentineans used the match to prepare for the FIVB Men's Olympic World Qualification Tournament on May 31-June 8 in Tokyo. The U.S. Men will begin their 2008 FIVB World League odyssey on June 13-14 in Finland.

Tuesday's match gave the U.S. team many things to work on before World League, said U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand).

The U.S. Men went into the match flat and struggled particularly on defense in the first two sets. In the first set, the United States had no blocks and 53 percent "excellent" serve receptions. The U.S. team hit for 40 percent in the first set and 38 percent in the second. Argentina hit for 66 percent in the first set and 56 in the second.

"We've only had this group together a little over a week," McCutcheon said. "I'm not surprised. I thought we were able to learn some really good lessons. We've got a lot of work to do. The good news is we have time to put things in place."

David Lee (Alpine, Calif.), Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.) and Gabe Gardner (San Clemente, Calif.) each scored 12 points for the U.S. Men. Lee had nine kills and three blocks. Millar and Gardner each had eight kills, two blocks and two aces.

Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.) scored 11 points on nine kills and two blocks. Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.) scored five points on one kill and a match-high four blocks. Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawai'i) scored five points on five kills and Riley Salmon (League City, Texas) tallied four points on four kills.

Libero Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) finished the match with 71 percent "excellent" service receptions.

After losing to Team USA 1-3 in a scrimmage on Saturday, Argentina Head Coach Jon Uriarte made some adjustments that took the U.S. Men by surprise, including starting Martin Hernandez, who usually plays opposite, at middle blocker.

Hernandez responded with 13 kills and one ace. Lucas Ocampo added 17 points on 15 kills, one block and one ace.

But Uriarte's team could not sustain the momentum it built in the first two sets.

"We are happy that our young team could play this type of match, but we still need to do some mental work," Uriarte said.

McCutcheon started Priddy and Salmon at outside hitter, Lee and Millar at middle blocker, Stanley at opposite, Hansen at setter and Lambourne at libero.

Rooney substituted for Salmon in the second set and started the rest of the match. Gardner substituted for Stanley in the second set and started the rest of the match.

Brandon Taliaferro (San Clemente, Calif.), Delano Thomas (Sacramento, Calif.) and Scott Touzinsky (St. Louis, Mo.) all entered the match to serve.

The first set saw the teams trade points to the first technical timeout, which Argentina reached with an 8-7 lead. Argentina went into the second technical timeout ahead 16-11. The U.S. Men couldn't come back and fell 19-25 in the first set.

In the second set, Team USA led 8-7 at the first technical timeout and increased the lead to two points. With the United States leading 15-13, Argentina came back to tie the score at 15-15 and then took its first set lead at 16-15 on an ace by Ocampo.

The score stayed tight until Argentina reached set point at 24-23. But a service error tied it again. Team USA held off set point again before taking its own set point at 26-25 and again at 27-26. With the scored tied 27-27, the United States was called for a net violation and then took a timeout. However Priddy's kill attempt went long and gave Argentina the set victory.

The third set proved critical for the U.S. Men and they got off to a 6-3 lead and an 8-6 advantage at the first technical timeout. Argentina came back to the tie the score at 12-12, but a Millar kill gave the United States a small lead it never gave up. Team USA held a 16-13 advantage at the second technical timeout and went on to win the set 25-20.

Carrying some momentum into the fourth set, the United States led 8-4 at the first technical timeout. The U.S. Men led 16-13 at the second technical timeout. Coming out of the break, Millar served for the next four points, including and ace, and put the set out of reach.

The United States jumped to a 4-1 lead in the fifth set. Although Argentina pulled to within one point at 11-10, a Gardner kill off Argentina's block took the wind out of the sails of the South Americans.

Upcoming U.S. Events: Tickets for the FIVB World League matches in Hoffman Estates, Ill. (June 20-21 vs. Bulgaria), Green Bay, Wis. (June 27-28 vs. Finland) and Bloomington, Ill. (July 11-12 vs. Spain) are now on sale. To purchase tickets, go to the USA Volleyball World League site at www.usavolleyball.org/national/08WL.asp.