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U.S. Men Prepare for Italy Knockout Match

By Bill Kauffman | Aug. 07, 2012, 7:47 a.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman (copy)/B.J. Hoeptner Evans (contact)
USA Volleyball Communications

Event Page - Press Kit

LONDON (Aug. 7, 2012) – The U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team, ranked fifth in the world and defending Olympic Games champion, will face a familiar opponent in Italy during the knockout quarterfinal round of the Olympic Games being held at Earls Court in London.

The Team USA versus Italy match will start at 4 p.m. local time (8 a.m. PT) on Wednesday. The Americans ended the preliminary round with 13 points and a 4-1 record to finish atop Pool B. Italy, the fourth-place team in Pool A and ranked No. 6 in the world, concluded pool play with a 3-2 record and eight points.

The U.S. opened the 2012 Olympic Games by defeating Serbia and Germany in straight sets. The Americans upset No. 1 Brazil in four sets and were poised to pull a second straight upset by leading No. 2 Russia 2-0 with a match-point in hand before losing in five sets. Despite the loss, the U.S. picked up an important point in the standings allowing it to clinch the pool after a victory over Tunisia on Aug. 6.

“This tournament has been pretty good for us with the exception of two and a quarter bad sets against Russia,” U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team captain Clay Stanley (Honolulu) said. “It's great to come out firing. It builds rhythm and volleyball's a big rhythm game.”

Italy’s results were mixed during Pool A with a four-set loss to Poland to open the Olympics. The Italians bounced back for a four-set win over Argentina and a sweep of Great Britain. On the fourth day of competition, Italy was extended to a fifth set by Australia before winning. Italy entered the final day of pool play still with a chance to win the pool, but lost to Bulgaria in straight sets to fall all the way down to fourth place.

“We can't take (Italy) for granted,” Stanley said. “They have great players who've all played in the top league in Italy. They're a young team and they've got great players. They're kind of struggling at the moment, though, I think.”

“Italy has an aggressive serve,” U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team Head Coach Alan Knipe said. “They have good servers that can put pressure on us. We have seen them a few times this year and the guys have a good reference point. They (Italy) will look at our videos and look at what weaknesses they can exploit and we will do the same.”

The Americans have faced Italy four times in 2012 – all during the FIVB World League Intercontinental Round – and have walked off the court winners the last three meetings. Italy won the first meeting on May 20 in Italy in straights sets eight days after the U.S. had qualified for the Olympic Games by winning the NORCECA Men’s Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament on May 12 in Long Beach, Calif. After a break in the World League action, Team USA regrouped to defeat Italy in four sets on June 15 in France, followed by a four-set win on June 22 in Korea and a five-set win on July 1 in Dallas.

Following the 2012 FIVB World League, the U.S. and Italy went in opposite directions in the world ranking. Team USA moved up one spot to fifth place after finishing with the silver medal in the premier annual international men’s volleyball tournament. Italy ended the World League in 11th place and dropped three spots in the ranking to No. 6 after entering the year ranked No. 3 in the world.

During the 2011 FIVB World Cup, Italy won a marathon 41-39 opening set over the Americans on Nov. 25 and went on to win in four sets in the only meeting of the year. Italy maintains a 40-27 record over the U.S. since 1981.

Other quarterfinal matches include Pool A winner Bulgaria versus Germany at 9:30 p.m. local time (1:30 p.m. PT), Pool B second-place finisher Brazil versus Pool A third-place finisher Argentina at 2 p.m. local time (6 a.m. PT) in an All-South American battle and Pool A second-place Poland versus Pool B third-place Russia at 7:30 p.m. local time (11:30 a.m. PT).

Team USA placements in the individual player rankings were skewed slightly following the decision to rest three normal starters in the Americans’ sweep over Tunisia. However, those rankings are secondary to the final results of the Olympic Games.

“We have some guys who haven't played much who are extremely talented and they're fresh, full of energy and delighted to get their opportunity,” Knipe said. “I think there have been some really good things to come out of the pool stage and that's a good example.”

Leading the offense through the preliminary round is outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), who ranks No. 9 overall in scoring with 75 points (63 kills, 6 blocks, 6 aces). He has hit at a .361 attack efficiency for fourth in Best Spiker, along sixth in Best Receiver with a 71.43 reception percent and 10th in Best Server with 0.33 ace average.

Opposite Clay Stanley (Honolulu), who did not play against Tunisia, ranks 12th in scoring with 62 points(50 kills, 7 blocks, 5 aces) and eighth in Best Spiker with a .308 hitting efficiency. Outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.), who also did not play against Tunisia, ranks 25th in scoring with 45 points (30 kills, 8 blocks, 7 aces). He also is in a tie for sixth for Best Server with a 0.39 ace average.

Middle blocker Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) ranks fourth in Best Blocker with a 0.83 block average. Despite not playing against Tunisia, David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) ranks seventh in Best Blocker with a 0.67 block average. Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) ranks second in Best Setter with 10.00 running sets average. Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) is the leading digger on the team with 1.61 per set for 11th overall.

“Every match we play, we have been able to get better in some part of our game,” Knipe said. “Now we're moving into the second phase and I know that the guys are excited to get out there.”

Italy is paced offensively by Michal Lasko, who has 82 points (70 kills, 7 blocks, 5 aces) for fifth place in overall scoring. Ivan Zaytsev follows with 66 points (54 kills, 7 blocks, 5 aces) for 10th in scoring. Setter Dragan Travica ranks third in Best Setter with 9.89 running sets average. Andrea Bari is seventh in Best Receiver with a 71.2 reception percent.

2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team
# - Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1 - Matt Anderson (OH, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2 - Sean Rooney (OH, 6-9, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
4 - David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
5 - Rich Lambourne (L, 6-3, Tustin, Calif., BYU)
6 - Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7 - Donald Suxho (S, 6-5, Korce, Albania, USC)
8 - Reid Priddy (OH, 6-5, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
11 - Brian Thornton (S, 6-3, San Clemente, Calif., UC Irvine)
12 - Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
13 - Clay Stanley (OPP, 6-9, Honolulu, Hawai'i, Hawaii)
16 - David McKienzie (Opp, 6-4, Littleton, Colo., Long Beach State)
20 - David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)

Head Coach: Alan Knipe (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
Team Manager: Rob Browning (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: John Speraw (Irvine, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Gary Sato (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Ron Larsen (Lafayette, Calif.)
Technical Coordinator: Chris Jackson (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Medical Support: Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)
Scout Coach: Andy Read (Garden Grove, Calif.)
Scout Coach: Mike Sealy (Santa Monica, Calif.)

Pool A:
Bulgaria (12 points, 4-1)
Poland (9 points, 3-2)
Argentina (9 points, 3-2)
Italy (8 points 3-2)
Australia (7 points, 2-3)
Great Britain (0 points, 0-5)

Pool B
USA (13 points, 4-1)
Brazil (11 points, 4-1)
Russia (11 points, 4-1)
Germany (5 points, 2-3)
Serbia (5 points, 1-4)
Tunisia (0 points, 0-5)

July 29: Bulgaria def. Great Britain 25-18, 25-20, 26-24
July 29: Russia def. Germany 31-29, 25-18, 25-17
July 29: Argentina def. Australia 25-21, 25-22, 25-20
July 29: USA def. Serbia 25-16, 25-22, 25-21
July 29: Poland def. Italy 21-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-14
July 29: Brazil def. Tunisia 25-17, 25-21, 25-18

July 31: Serbia def. Tunisia 25-15, 25-21, 20-25, 25-18
July 31: Bulgaria def. Poland 25-22, 29-27, 13-25, 25-23
July 31: Italy def. Argentina 25-17, 21-25, 25-17, 25-23
July 31: USA def. Germany 25-23, 25-16, 25-20
July 31: Australia def. Great Britain 25-15, 25-18, 25-20
July 31: Brazil def. Russia 25-21, 25-23, 25-21

Aug. 2: Germany def. Serbia 22-25, 27-29, 25-18, 25-20, 20-18
Aug. 2: Bulgaria def. Australia 25-23, 25-21, 25-22
Aug. 2: Russia def. Tunisia 25-21, 25-15, 25-23
Aug. 2: Poland def. Argentina 25-18, 25-20, 25-16
Aug. 2: USA def. Brazil 23-25, 27-25, 25-19, 25-17
Aug. 2: Italy def. Great Britain 25-19, 25-16, 25-20

Aug. 4: Germany def. Tunisia 25-15, 25-16, 25-16
Aug. 4: Poland def. Great Britain 25-16, 25-19, 25-18
Aug. 4: Italy def. Australia 21-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-14, 15-13
Aug. 4: Russia def. USA 27-29, 19-25, 26-24, 25-16, 15-8
Aug. 4: Argentina def. Bulgaria 25-18, 21-25, 25-19, 25-20
Aug. 4: Brazil def. Serbia 22-25, 25-15, 20-25, 25-22, 15-9

Aug. 6: Australia def. Poland 25-21, 25-22, 18-25, 25-22
Aug. 6: Russia def. Serbia 25-15, 25-20, 25-17
Aug. 6: Bulgaria def. Italy 32-30, 25-20, 25-19
Aug. 6: Argentina def. Great Britain 25-18, 25-18, 25-15
Aug. 6: USA def. Tunisia 25-15, 25-19, 25-19
Aug. 6: Brazil def. Germany 25-21, 25-22, 25-19

Aug. 8: Brazil (2B) vs. Argentina (3A), 2 p.m. (Quarterfinal)
Aug. 8: USA (1B) vs. Italy (4A), 4 p.m. (Quarterfinal)
Aug. 8: Poland (2A) vs. Russia (3B), 7:30 p.m. (Quarterfinal)
Aug. 8: Bulgaria (1A) vs. Germany (4B), 9:30 p.m. (Quarterfinal)

Aug. 10: Semifinal Matches at 3 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 12: Men’s Bronze Medal Match, 9:30 a.m.
Aug. 12: Men’s Gold Medal Match, 1 p.m.
Aug. 12: Men’s Gold Medal Ceremony, 2:50 p.m.

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