U.S. Men Clinch Pool B with Win over Tunisia

By Bill Kauffman | Aug. 06, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

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

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LONDON (Aug. 6, 2012) – The U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team, ranked fifth in the world and defending Olympic Games champion, defeated Tunisia 25-15, 25-19, 25-19 on Monday evening at Earls Court in London to finish atop the Olympic Games Pool B.

Team USA finished the preliminary round with 13 points and a 4-1 record. The Americans needed to win to guarantee themselves as the top seed out of Pool B and face the opposite pool’s fourth-place team, which is Italy with a 3-2 record and eight points. The U.S. versus Italy quarterfinal will take place on Wednesday at 4 p.m. local time (8 a.m. PT).

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).

Using a roster with three different starters than the previous four pool matches, the U.S. broke a 3-all tie in the opening set with a 7-0 run and close the set on a 5-2 run for a 25-15 victory. The Americans out-blocked Tunisia 5-1 in the set. Team USA built a 13-8 lead in the second set and overcame 10 errors to capture the set 25-18. The American took a 9-4 lead in the early stages of the third set and handled the end game with a 25-19 victory.

David McKienzie (Little, Colo.) received his first Olympic Games start and piled up a match-high 17 points with 14 kills on 25 attacks, two aces and a block. Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.), also in his first start of the 2012 Olympics, tallied eight kills on 14 swings and four blocks for 12 points. Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) contributed 10 points via nine kills on 18 attempts and a block.

“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,” U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team Head Coach Alan Knipe said. “I think there have been some really good things to come out of the pool stage and that's a good example.”

Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) chipped in a match-high five blocks with four kills for nine points. David Smith (Saugus, Calif.) charted five kills on six swings with two aces and a block for eight points. Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) added two points and Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) rounded out the scoring with a point.

“We played well and we were focused, organized and enjoying the match,” McKienzie said. “We have been playing increasingly better and I think we have more to show.”

“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.”

Suxho totaled 25 running sets on 34 set attempts, while Brian Thornton (San Clemente, Calif.) added 15 running sets in a reserve role. The two setters helped the U.S. offense to a 56.8 kill percent and .432 hitting efficiency (42-10-74). Rooney recorded a team-high nine digs and added nine excellent receptions on 12 attempts. Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) collected six digs and a team-high 15 excellent receptions on 20 attempts.

"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.”

Knipe started Smith and Holmes at middle blocker, Anderson and Rooney at outside hitter, McKienzie at opposite and Suxho at setter. Lambourne is the U.S. designated libero for the Olympic Games. Thornton was a sub in the first two sets and started the third set in place of Suxho. Lotman was a late sub in the third set.

The Americans held a commanding 15-3 margin in blocks along with a 4-2 edge in aces. The U.S. tallied 42 kills to Tunisia’s 27. Team USA also edged Tunisia 27-25 in digs.

Tunisia, which finished the tournament winless with zero points, was led in scoring by Ismail Moalla’s nine points in a reserve role, while Hichem Kaabi pocketed eight points off the bench.

In other Pool B matches, Russia (11 points, 4-1) defeated Serbia (5 points, 1-4) 25-15, 25-20, 25-17 to finish in second place. Brazil (8 points, 3-1) topped Germany (5 points, 2-2) 25-21, 25-22, 25-19 in a match it needed to win 3-0 to finish in second place.

In Pool A, Australia (7 points, 2-3) pulled an upset to defeat Poland (9 points, 3-2) 25-21, 25-22, 18-25, 25-22. With Poland’s loss, Bulgaria (12 points, 4-1) was able to clinch the pool with a 32-30, 25-20, 25-19 victory over Italy (8 points, 3-2). Bulgaria, Italy and Poland all entered the day with 3-1 records and within reach of the top spot out of the group going into the quarterfinals. Argentina (9 points, 3-2) defeated host Great Britain (0 points, 0-5) 25-18, 25-18, 25-15 to advance to the quarterfinals as Pool A’s third seed.

Now the Team USA focus will shift to the knockout quarterfinal round against a familiar opponent in Italy.

“Italy has an aggressive serve,” 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.”

"We can't take them for granted,” U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team captain Clay Stanley (Honolulu) 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.”

Team USA rolled to an 8-3 lead in the first set with five straight points on McKienzie’s serve that included an ace, a block and kill by Rooney and a Holmes block. McKienzie added another ace out of the technical timeout and Holmes followed with a block for a 10-3 advantage on a 7-0 scoring run. Rooney and McKienzie turned in back-to-back kills to extend the lead to 12-4, but Tunisia scored consecutive points to narrow the gap to 12-6. A Holmes kill and Tunisia attack error extended the lead to 14-6. Russell Holmes started a 3-0 scoring with a Smith block around a Tunisia attack error to yield a 15-6 margin. Rooney and Anderson collected back-to-back kills to inch the lead to 17-7, only to have Tunisia score three unanswered in cutting the gap to 17-10. Anderson hit a back-row attack and Holmes put up a block to create a 22-13 margin at a Tunisia timeout. Anderson hammered the final two points for a 25-15 victory. McKienzie piled up six points in the first set to lead the Americans, while Rooney and Holmes added four points. The U.S. held a 5-1 block advantage.

The U.S. reached the first two-point separation of the second set at 7-5 with a Holmes kill and Suxho block. McKienzie and Anderson collected consecutive kills to up the advantage to 9-6. Smith served consecutive aces following an Anderson kill to increase the margin to 13-8. The U.S. lead reached 20-13 with a McKienzie kill, Smith block and Tunisia error. McKienzie added a fourth straight point out of a Tunisia timeout for a 21-13 advantage. Tunisia trimmed three points off the deficit at 23-18 going into a Team USA timeout. Holmes ended the run to give the U.S. a 24-18 advantage, and after Tunisia saved one set point, Anderson hammered the winner at 25-18. McKienzie added seven points in the third set and Anderson contributed six points. Team USA overcame 10 errors in the set.

Team USA broke a 3-all tie in the third set by scoring three unanswered points with kills from Rooney and Holmes after a Tunisia error for a 6-3 advantage. Holmes put up a block after a Tunisia service error to yield an 8-4 American lead at the first technical timeout. Rooney added a block out of the break for a 9-4 advantage. Anderson and Smith collected consecutive kills to prompt Tunisia to call timeout trailing 12-6. Rooney picked up a kill and block with the U.S. heading into the second technical timeout leading 16-9. Tunisia went on a 4-1 run to close to 18-14. Tunisia came back from a 23-15 deficit to within 23-18, but Smith traded points with Tunisia until a 25-19 victory.

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: Argentina (3A) vs. Brazil (2B), 2 p.m. (Quarterfinal)
Aug. 8: USA (1B) vs. Italy (4B), 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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