Bulgaria Strikes Back

June 22, 2008, 1:44 a.m. (ET)
B.J. Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org    

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (June 21, 2008) - The second FIVB World League match between the No. 3 U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team and No. 4 Bulgaria lived up to its billing as it came down to a fifth set, which Bulgaria won, taking a 12-25, 25-16, 25-20, 12-25, 15-13 victory on Saturday at the Sears Centre Arena.

One night after losing in three sets, Bulgaria improved its World League record to 3-1. The United States, which lost its first World League match, is tied with Bulgaria at 3-1 in Pool C.

Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.) of the United States led all scorers with 20 points on 15 kills, four blocks and one ace. Gabe Gardner (San Clemente, Calif.) added 16 points on 13 kills, two blocks and one ace. Riley Salmon (League City, Texas) scored 13 points on 12 kills and one block.

Boyan Yordanov led Bulgaria with 19 points on 16 kills and three blocks. Martin Penev added 10 points on nine kills and one block.

"I'm not surprised they were better tonight (than Friday)," said U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand). "I'm glad we were tested. We cannot improve if we are not tested."

Other U.S. scorers were David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) with 11 points on seven kills, three blocks and one ace. Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.) added 10 points on six kills and four blocks. Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.) scored four points on two kills, once ace and one block. Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawai'i) added two points and Lloy Ball (Woodburn, Ind.), Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.), and libero Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) each scored one point.

Lambourne scored his point on a perfect dig. He was credited with six digs and 18 "excellent" serve receptions.

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

Stanley and Priddy substituted as serving specialists and Ball came in to set the fourth and fifth sets.

The United States had seven aces as opposed to one for Bulgaria. Team USA also out-blocked Bulgaria 17-12 and were 61 percent "excellent" on serve reception as opposed to 52 percent for Bulgaria.

However, the United States' biggest mistakes came in the crucial fifth set as it missed seven serves.

The first set made it look like it was going to be another quick match as the United States took a 5-0 lead as Millar served before Bulgaria achieved its first point on a kill by Penev. Lee's kill brought the first technical timeout (TTO) with Team USA leading 8-3, then he served for the next four points to make the lead 12-3. The U.S. lead was still nine points, 16-7, at the second TTO.

With the score 21-12, Stanley took the serve and served for the final four points, including an ace and a block and kill by Millar. The U.S. Men were credited with five blocks in the first set while Bulgaria had none. Team USA also converted 77 percent of its attack attempts and was 77 percent "excellent" on serve receive.

Bulgaria played like a different team in the second set and took an 8-4 lead into the first technical timeout, with Aleksiev scoring on two kills and a block during the run.

The United States pulled back to within two points at 7-9, but Bulgaria didn't let up. Zhekov got the serve with Bulgaria leading 13-9 and kept it until the second TTO at 16-9. Lee's kill stopped the run, but the damage was done and the U.S. Men could not mount a comeback.

Bulgaria held a slim 8-7 lead at the first TTO of the third set while the U.S. held the slim 16-15 lead at the second TTO. With the score tied 17-17, Penev served Bulgaria to a two-point lead on a U.S. hitting error and a Bulgaria kill that it did not give up.

McCutcheon substituted Ball for Hansen at setter in the fourth set and it seemed to spark the United States, which took an 8-4 lead at the first TTO. With the U.S. Men leading 9-5, Rooney got the serve and held it until the lead was 14-5. Bulgaria's offense made mistakes and the U.S. took advantage.

The U.S. led 16-6 at the second TTO and Bulgaria never recovered.

The United States took an 8-7 lead in the fifth set, but Bulgaria came back to lead at 9-8. The United States regained the lead and looked to be on the way to winning at 13-11. But Bulgaria Coach Martin Stoev brought in Penev who served Bulgaria to the victory.

WORLD LEAGUE TICKETS: Tickets for the FIVB World League matches in Green Bay, Wis. (June 27-28 vs. Finland) and Bloomington, Ill. (July 11-12 vs. Spain) are still available. To purchase tickets, go to the USA Volleyball World League site at www.usavolleyball.org/national/08WL.asp.

View the U.S. Men's World League Media Guide at www.usavolleyball.org/media/national/08WL_MNTMediaGuide.pdf.

View the event media guide at www.usavolleyball.org/media/national/08WL_FiVBmediakit1.pdf.  

The U.S. World League site is www.usavolleyball.org/national/08WL.asp.

The FIVB World League site is www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2008.

2008 FIVB World League

U.S. Men's Roster

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 C 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, 6-6, St. Louis, Mo., Long Beach State)

Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon
Team Manager: Arnie Ball
Assistant Coach: Ron Larsen
Assistant Coach: John Speraw
Team Doctor: Michael Terry/William Briner
Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock

FIVB 2008 World League Standings as of June 20 (click on link to view team profile):

Pool A
Brazil 3-1
France 3-1
Serbia 0-2
Venezuela 0-2

Pool B
Russia 3-0
Italy 2-1
Cuba 1-2
Korea 0-3

Pool C
USA 3-1
Bulgaria 3-1
Spain 1-2
Finland 0-3

Pool D
Egypt 3-1
China 2-1
Japan 1-3
Poland 1-2

U.S. World League Schedule and Results

Date: June 13-14
Opponent: Finland
Location: Helsinki, Finland (LänsiAuto Arena)
June 13: USA def. Finland, 3-1 (25-18, 25-19, 23-25, 25-20)
June 14: USA def. Finland, 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-16)

Date: June 20-21 (7 p.m. local both nights)
Opponent: Bulgaria
Location: Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
June 20: USA def. Bulgaria, 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-16)
June 21: Bulgaria def. USA, 3-2 (12-25, 25-16, 25-20, 12-25, 15-13)

Date: June 27-28 (7 p.m. local both nights)
Opponent: Finland
Location: Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis.

Date: July 4 and 6
Opponent: Spain
Location: Madrid, Spain

Date: July 11-12 (7 p.m. local both nights)
Opponent: Spain
Location: U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, Ill.

Date: July 18-19
Opponent: Bulgaria
Location: Varna, Bulgaria

Date: July 23-27
Event: World League Final (must qualify)
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil