U.S. Men Start Olympic Title Defense Strong

By Bill Kauffman | July 29, 2012, 1:46 p.m. (ET)

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LONDON (July 29, 2012) – The U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team opened its Olympic Games title defense with 25-17, 25-22, 25-21 win over Serbia Sunday afternoon in London as first-time Olympian Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) shined with 18 points.

Team USA, ranked fifth in the world, continues Pool B on Tuesday against Germany at 4:45 p.m. local time (8:45 a.m. PT).

The Americans raced to a 13-4 lead in the opening set on a 9-1 scoring run and cruised to a 25-16 victory. Team USA recovered from an early 5-1 deficit in the second set to tie it at 9-all, then used a 6-0 run with four blocks to erase a 19-17 deficit going on to win 25-22. Overall, the U.S. tallied nine blocks in the second set. Team USA started the third set with a 13-4 lead that included four blocks, but needed to hold off a furious Serbia charge to win 25-21.

“I thought there were a lot of good things we did, but probably better than most was the attention to detail especially our blocking defense, our transition; just the out-of –system plays created a lot of opportunities to score points,” U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Coach Alan Knipe said. “Obviously we started out well in the first and third sets and we were able to keep that cushion. In the second set we were faced with not a nice start and we were able to come back and chip away at it and not really deal with a lot of panic.”

Anderson tallied 16 kills on 23 attacks with two blocks for 18 points.

“Yeah, I was,” Anderson said about whether he entered the match nervous. “I was nervous that I was going to be nervous. I was lucky that I wasn’t nervous.”

“The best thing about (Matt) Anderson is that he isn't fazed by the lights and the big court,” Knipe said of his rookie Olympian on the outside. “He just gets down to the game.”

With Olympians on his side who have gone through the gold-medal winning process, Anderson values their input.

“I get tips along the way from Clay and Reid and Rich in matches and in training,” Anderson said. “Things will happen and they will say, ‘just remember this because it’s going to happen in a big-time match.’”

Clay Stanley (Honolulu) chipped in 13 points with nine kills and four blocks. Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) tallied nine points on four kills, three blocks and two aces. David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) contributed seven points on two kills, three blocks and two aces. Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) charted three kills and three blocks for six points. Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) rounded out the scoring with a block and ace for two points.

Suxho ran the offense to a 46.7 kill percent and .227 hitting efficiency (35-18-75) with 27 running sets on 57 set attempts. Anderson contributed 15 excellent receptions on 17 errorless attempts. Priddy added a team-high five digs to go with a team-high 16 excellent receptions on 24 attempts.

“I thought there were ebbs and flows in this match, which kept us honest and made us focused on what at hand,” Priddy said. “Overall there was the right amount of effort. You saw some really high points where we scored a succession of points - which put us ahead in the first set and allowed us to catch up in the second. The best part of our play was these point surges. We now need to have a better follow-up to them.”

“We've had a really nice week, but I was anxious to see how the guys who have not competed in an Olympic Games would do,” said Stanley, the U.S. captain.

Knipe started Priddy and Anderson at outside hitter, Lee and Holmes at middle blocker, Stanley at opposite and Suxho at setter. Lambourne is the designated libero for the tournament. Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) and David Smith (Saugus, Calif.) were subs in the opening set.

Team USA out-blocked Serbia 16-11 as both teams served five aces and totaled 19 digs. The Americans held Serbia to a .115 hitting efficiency (34-24-87).

“We feel like we’ve played well this summer,” Knipe said on the team’s expectations at the Olympics. “We played well at NORCECA, we played well in the finals of World League. Right now we’re going to worry about what we can control and that’s our next match.”

As for the upcoming matches, both Knipe and Stanley revolve around taking care of what is in their control.

“There is no way around it, it’s the pool we have,” Knipe said. “It’s going to force us to play some high-level volleyball at the beginning of the tournament. It’s a matter of which way you want to look at it. To do the things we want to do here we are going to have to face these teams at some point.”

“Our outlook is just to come out ready to play,” Stanley said in reference to Team USA’s next match against Germany. “We are learning from our mistakes. We just need to relax on the court and try not to give away points.”

Anderson said the format of the Olympics provides a chance to prepare further for its next opponent.

“The way the Olympics are set up it’s good we have a day off,” Anderson said. “It gives us a good solid chunk of time to really scout out Germany and see what they’re going to bring at us. We played them in the World League finals not long ago and we watched their match today and we have good video on them.”

Marko Podrascanin led Serbia with 13 points, while Aleksandar Atanasijevic added 12 points.

“USA deserved their victory,” Serbia’s Milos Nikic said. “They are a quality side with a lot of experience. We didn't really get into it. We played well in parts, but we didn't keep our momentum. We can play better.”

In other Pool B matches, Russia stopped Germany 31-29, 25-18, 25-17 and No. 1 Brazil will face Tunisia to conclude the day’s schedule at 10 p.m. local time (2 p.m. PT). Earlier today in Pool A, Bulgaria opened the men’s volleyball competition with a 25-18, 25-20, 26-24 victory over host Great Britain and Argentina handled Australia 25-21, 25-22, 25-20. The remaining Pool A match has 2012 FIVB World League champion Poland taking on Italy at 8 p.m. local time (noon PT).

Team USA gained the first two-point separation of the opening set at 3-1 after a Priddy kill and Serbia attack error. The Americans increased the margin to three points with consecutive kills by Anderson and Stanley at 6-3. The U.S. went into the first technical timeout leading 8-4 with an Anderson kill and long Serbia attack. Out of the break Stanley put a block and Anderson hit off the block to extend the lead to 10-4 with Serbia heading into a timeout having yielded six of the last seven points. Anderson continued the surge with a kill, followed by Serbia committing an error and Stanley putting up a block for a seventh straight USA point on Suxho’s serve at 13-4. Team USA reached the second technical timeout leading 16-6 with a Stanley kill after a Serbia service error. Out of the break, Lee served an ace to the back corner to raise the advantage to 17-6. Serbia shaved three points off the gap with two blocks around another USA attack error at 18-10. Priddy sliced the Serbia reception for an ace after a Holmes quick attack prompting Serbia to call timeout down 20-10. Serbia cut the deficit to seven at 20-13 with two blocks after a kill leading into a Team USA timeout. The U.S. reached a double-digit advantage again at 23-13 with an Anderson kill and Lee block. Serbia answered with three consecutive points to close to 23-16. However, the U.S. scored the final two points with kills from Priddy and Lee for a 25-16 victory. Anderson tallied six kills on as many attacks without an error in the opening set, while Stanley also totaled six points.

Serbia took a 3-0 lead in the second set with two blocks around an ace. Serbia extended the lead to 5-1 as the USA reception broke down. Team USA charged back to within one at 7-6 with a Stanley kill and block followed by an Anderson block. The U.S. tied the set at 9-all with a Priddy kill and Holmes block. Serbia answered with the next two points to create a two-point cushion at 11-9. Team USA leveled the score again at 13-all with an Anderson kill and Lee block. However, Serbia collected the next two points to regain a two-point edge at 15-13. Lee scored a kill and block out of the second technical timeout to knot the score at 16-all. Serbia took back a two-point advantage on a block at 19-17 prompting a USA timeout. The U.S. responded out of the break with a Stanley kill and Serbia error to tie the set at 19-all. Priddy gave the U.S. its first lead of the set at 20-19 with a block, then added a second straight block followed by a Holmes block pushing the American lead to 22-19 on a five-point scoring run on Stanley’s serve. Out of a Serbia timeout, Suxho scored a fourth straight block for the U.S. at 23-19. Serbia saved two set points prompting a USA timeout at 24-22, then the U.S. closed the set at 25-22 on a service error. Stanley tallied five points in the set as the Americans scored nine blocks in the set.

Team USA scored the first three points of the third set with blocks from Holmes and Stanley around a Lee ace. Serbia closed to one at 4-3 with an ace. The U.S. pushed its lead to 7-3 with consecutive Serbia errors and an Anderson kill. The Americans pushed the advantage to 13-4 with two Anderson kills and Lee block around three Serbia errors as part of a 6-0 run and Holmes’ serve. Serbia ended the spurt with a 3-0 run of its own at 13-7. Team USA answered with an Anderson kill and Suxho ace at 15-7. Serbia trimmed off three points at 15-10. Serbia continued its charge with consecutive points out of the second technical timeout to close to 16-12. Anderson nailed consecutive kills prompting Serbia to call timeout down 20-14. Priddy followed with an ace out of the break at 21-14. Serbia stayed alive with three unanswered points at 21-17 leading into a USA timeout, then closed to 22-20 as part of a 6-1 scoring run. Team USA reached set and match point at 24-20 with a Priddy kill and Serbia back-row attack error. Stanley ended the match with a kill at 25-21.

2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team
# - Name (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, University of Southern California)
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)
20 - David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
21 - David McKienzie (Opp, 6-4, Littleton, Colo., Long Beach State)

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:
Argentina (3 points, 1-0)
Bulgaria (3 points, 1-0)
Italy (0 points 0-0)
Poland (0 points, 0-0)
Australia (0 points, 0-1)
Great Britain (0 points, 1 points)

Pool B
USA (3 points, 1-0)
Brazil (0 points, 0-0)
Russia (0 points, 0-0)
Germany (0 points, 0-0)
Tunisia (0 points, 0-0)
Serbia (0 points, 0-1)

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: Italy vs. Poland, 8 p.m.
July 29: Brazil vs. Tunisia, 10 p.m.

July 31: Serbia vs. Tunisia, 9:30 a.m.
July 31: Poland vs. Bulgaria, 11:30 a.m.
July 31: Italy vs. Argentina, 2:45 p.m.
July 31: USA vs. Germany, 4:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m. PT)
July 31: Great Britain vs. Australia, 8 p.m.
July 31: Brazil vs. Russia, 10 p.m.

Aug. 2: Serbia vs. Germany, 9:30 a.m.
Aug. 2: Australia vs. Bulgaria, 11:30 a.m.
Aug. 2: Russia vs. Tunisia, 2:45 p.m.
Aug. 2: Poland vs. Argentina, 4:45 p.m.
Aug. 2: Brazil vs. USA, 8 p.m. (noon PT)
Aug. 2: Great Britain vs. Italy, 10 p.m.

Aug. 4: Germany vs. Tunisia, 9:30 a.m.
Aug. 4: Great Britain vs. Poland, 11:30 a.m.
Aug. 4: Australia vs. Italy, 2:45 p.m.
Aug. 4: Russia vs. USA, 4:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m.)
Aug. 4: Argentina vs. Bulgaria, 8 p.m.
Aug. 4: Brazil vs. Serbia, 10 p.m.

Aug. 6: Australia vs. Poland, 9:30 a.m.
Aug. 6: Russia vs. Serbia, 11:30 a.m.
Aug. 6: Italy vs. Bulgaria, 2:45 p.m.
Aug. 6: Great Britain vs. Argentina, 4:45 p.m.
Aug. 6: USA vs. Tunisia, 8 p.m. (noon PT)
Aug. 6: Brazil vs. Germany, 10 p.m.

Aug. 8: Quarterfinal Matches at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m.

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.