Poland Sweeps U.S. Men in World League Opening Weekend

July 15, 2006, 12 a.m. (ET)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (July 15, 2006) - Buoyed by vocal fans and the momentum gained from Friday night's victory, Poland defeated the U.S. Men's National Team 3-1 (26-24, 25-13, 20-25, 25-22) in their 2006 FIVB World League match on Saturday at the "E" Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Poland leaves the United States with a 2-0 World League lead. The United States will travel to Hiroshima, Japan, for its next matches on July 22-23. Poland will travel to Serbia & Montenegro to play July 21-22.

Poland's Sebastian Swiderski led his team with 14 kills and one ace. Gregorz Symanski added 11 kills, one ace and one scoring block. Lukasz Kadziewicz had seven scoring blocks for Poland.

Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) had 12 kills and three scoring blocks for the United States and Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii) added 11 kills, one ace and two blocks.

Errors were the name of the game for both teams, especially in the first two sets. But as in Friday's 3-1 win by Poland (22-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23), the U.S. men suffered more.

"We're not real happy with ourselves or the way we played up until the third and fourth games," U.S. Team Captain Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.). "We need to focus on taking care of the ball on our side."

The United States took a 14-9 lead in Game 1, but let Poland climb back into the set. While both teams struggled with service errors (Poland 6, U.S. 5), the strong play at the net from Lukasz Kadziewicz, Daniel Plinski and Swiderski more than compensated for Poland.

The U.S. hitting percentage in the first game was 7 percent while Poland's was 18 percent.

Those percentages improved in Game 2, but not nearly enough for the United States, which hit for 36 percent while Poland improved to 76 percent behind Szymanski with 11 kills and Swiderski with seven.

"I was pleased with my own performance today," said Szymanski, who was a substitute for Mariusz Wlazly. "I feel like I fulfilled my task."

Poland took leads of 10-5, then 18-8 and 20-10 in Game 2 and a United States comeback never materialized. Poland made it look easy in a 25-13 victory.

Lineup changes sparked the United States' 25-20 third-set win as Gabe Gardner (San Clemente, Calif.) and Phil Eatherton (Glencoe, Mo.) provided extra firepower. The U.S. hitting percentage improved to 44 percent and Poland's was 13.

"After Gardner entered the game, he released his team's power and spirit," said Poland Head Coach Raul Lozano. "We had doubts during that set. But we tried to finish as well as possible."

Game 4 was a battle that saw Poland take an 18-14 lead, then try to hold off the U.S. comeback, led by Stanley and Priddy. However service and attack errors continued to plague the U.S. men, and a final kill from Swiderski ended the game and the match.