U.S. Men Sweep Puerto Rico to Win Pool at Olympic Qualifier

Jan. 09, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
B.J. Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Jan. 8, 2008) - Determined not to let history repeat itself, the U.S. Men's National Team defeated Puerto Rico in straight sets (25-21, 25-23, 25-22) on Tuesday to win its pool and advance to the semifinals of the NORCECA Men's Continental Olympic Qualification Championship at Hector Sola Bezares Coliseum in Caguas, Puerto Rico.

Team USA (3-0) will get to rest on Wednesday while Puerto Rico (2-1) will play Mexico (1-2) and Cuba (2-1) will play Dominican Republic (1-2) in the quarterfinals. On Thursday, the U.S. Men and Canada will play the winners of each of the quarterfinals in the semifinals. The tournament winner will qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The United States came close to qualifying for Beijing at the 2007 FIVB World Cup. However, Puerto Rico upset Team USA and the United States went on to finish fourth.

On Tuesday, Puerto Rico put up another fight, taking the lead in all three sets. But the U.S. Men were determined to win and found a way to come back every time they needed to. Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawai'i) led the U.S. scorers with 14 points on 10 kills and a match-high four blocks. Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.) added 12 points 11 kills and one block. Riley Salmon (League City, Texas) scored nine points on seven kills and two blocks. Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) added eight points on seven kills and one ace and David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) tallied eight points on six kills and two blocks.

Setter Lloy Ball (Woodburn, Ind.) totaled one point on an ace and set the U.S. Men to a kill percentage of 56. Libero Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) was credited with four digs and 12 receptions with an "excellent" percentage of 67. Hector Soto led Puerto Rico with 14 points on 11 kills, two blocks and one ace. Jose Rivera and Luis Rodriguez each scored nine points. The U.S. Men out-blocked Puerto Rico 9-5 and Puerto Rico struggled with eight attack errors as opposed to four for the United States.

"Now it is time to think about the next phase," said U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand). "We played well in some significant moments and we are happy with the win."

Puerto Rico took an 8-7 lead into the first technical timeout of the first set. The two teams battled back and forth and Puerto Rico entered the second technical timeout with a 16-14 advantage. Kills from Salmon and Victor Rivera made the score 17-15. But Team USA went on a 5-0 run, including an attack and a block from Stanley, for a 20-17 lead and Puerto Rico could not recover. Team USA held the 8-7 lead at the first TTO of the second set thanks in part to two kills and a block from Stanley along with kills from Millar and Salmon. Again the two teams battled back and forth and it was Puerto Rico who took the 16-15 lead into the second TTO on a kill by Soto, his sixth point of the set. Later, with the scored tied at 19-19, Team USA scored two straight points on two straight Puerto Rico errors for a 21-19 lead. A kill by Rodriguez cut the U.S. lead to one, but Team USA managed to hold the one-point lead, thanks in part to three kills by Millar, to take the 25-23 set win.

Things looked better for Puerto Rico in the third set as it held an 8-7 lead at the first technical timeout and by the second had increased it to two points at 16-14. A kill by Jose Rivera made it 17-14 before a kill by Lee and a block from Stanley made it 17-16. Later, with the scored tied at 22-22, Team USA scored on a Priddy kill. Puerto Rico Head Coach Carlos Cardona called timeout, but Puerto Rico came back with an attack error to reach the U.S. match point. Lee blocked Soto for the final U.S. point and the match victory.

There is more information and live scoring available on the NORCECA web site at www.NORCECA.org.

2008 NORCECA Men's Continental Olympic Qualification Championship U.S. Men's National Team
(No., Name, Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1 Lloy Ball (S, 6-8, Woodburn, Ind., Indiana-Purdue, Fort Wayne)
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)
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 (OPP, 6-9, San Clemente, Calif., Stanford)
18 Scott Touzinsky (OH, 6-7, St. Louis, Mo., Long Beach State)

Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon
Team Manager: Robert Browning
Assistant Coach: Ron Larsen
Assistant Coach: John Speraw
Doctor: Dr. Andrew Gregory
Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison
Medical Support: Aaron Brock

Group A
United States 3-0
Puerto Rico 2-1
Dominican Republic 1-2
Barbados 0-3

Group B
Canada 3-0
Cuba 2-1
Mexico 1-2
Trinidad & Tobago 0-3

Tournament Schedule (all times PST) and Results Preliminary Round
Jan. 6
Canada def. Trinidad , Tobago, 25-9, 25-14, 25-15
USA def. Dominican Republic, 25-13, 25-19, 25-19
Cuba def. Mexico, 25-19, 25-23, 25-20
Puerto Rico def. Barbados, 25-13, 25-12, 25-19

Jan. 7
Mexico def. Trinidad & Tobago, 25-20, 25-13, 25-11 USA def. Barbados, 25-14, 25-10, 25-16
Canada def. Cuba, 25-23, 19-25, 26-24, 25-20
Puerto Rico def. Dominican Republic, 28-26, 25-21, 38-36

Jan. 8
Cuba def. Trinidad & Tobago, 25-13, 25-8, 25-15 Dominican Republic def. Barbados, 25-19, 25-19, 25-17 Canada def. Mexico, 25-21, 25-19, 25-20
USA def. Puerto Rico, 25-21, 25-23, 25-22

Final Round
Jan. 9
2 p.m.: Cuba vs. Dominican Republic
4 p.m.: Puerto Rico vs. Mexico

Jan. 10
10 a.m.: Classification 5-8
Noon: Classification 5-8
2 p.m.: Semifinals
4 p.m.: Semifinals

Jan. 11
10 a.m.: Seventh-place match
Noon: Fifth-place match
2 p.m.: Third-place match
4 p.m.: Championship match