U.S. Men Hammer Japan in World League

July 22, 2006, 12 a.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: (719) 228-6800       
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org  

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 22, 2006) – The U.S. Men’s National Team made a major-league comeback and swept Japan 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-17) in the first match of a weekend Pool A World League double-header at Hiroshima Green Arena on Saturday.

Team USA, which lost two matches to Poland on July 14-15 in Salt Lake City, Utah, improved its record to 1-2, while Japan slipped to the same mark after its second consecutive defeat. Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) led the U.S. scoring with 15 points, including 14 kills. David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) added 12 points, including six scoring blocks, and Jim Polster (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) added 10 kills. Naohiro Ryuji led Japan with 10 points, all on kills.

The entire match lasted one hour, 10 minutes. The first set was very one-sided, with the U.S. Men taking it 25-15 in 22 minutes on their second set point.

“It was a wonderful performance, very different from last week,” said U.S. Team Captain Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.) “Today the team was well organized, and it was a big change from last week.”

While the Americans clicked straight into gear, the Japanese just could not get into it, lacking rhythm and spirit.

Lee and Phil Eatherton (Glencoe, Mo.) ruled the net, with one magnificent block by Lee on Kota Yamamura particularly noteworthy, and Polster produced some big winners on the left.

Priddy closed out the first set with a trademark spike on the left, leaving Japan to try and regroup.

Japan found some fire in the second set, but still could not control Lee at the net.

Yusuke "Gottsu" Ishijima was struggling to get into the game, but a powerful winner on the left, followed soon after by a Yamamura swoop at the net, offered Japan hope.

The home team held a rare two-point advantage at 15-13 in the second set, but still could not reach the second TTO in front due to a lack of concentration.

Libero Akira Masuno then came up with some incredible saves to get the crowd roaring, and his teammates responded with equally athletic defense and more consistent blocking. Leading 18-17, Japan was finally in the mood for a battle.

But the Americans responded and lifted their game again to pull away down the stretch and take the second set 25-22 for a 2-0 lead. There was a familiar ending, as a blistering winner from Priddy split the Japanese defense again.

In the third set, the visitors went for a quick kill, and held a three-point cushion at the first technical timeout, 8-5.

With the Americans well on top at 10-6 and Japan flat again, home coach Tatsuya Ueta called a timeout to try and rally his team to stay in the match.

But Polster kept pounding out the points from the left flank to keep his team moving, and a Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) block on Ishijima further dented Japan's hopes of a comeback.

A jack-hammer winner from Lee at the net moved the USA closer to the third set, and a soaring Priddy spike down the middle extended his team's lead to 20-12.

Priddy brought up match point at 24-16, and when Ishijima put his serve into the net it was all over.

“The USA block was very strong in the middle and that spoiled Japan's attack,” Ueta said. “Midway through the game we tried to attack more from the sides, but that did not really work. Our reception was not functioning well.”

Priddy brought up match point at 24-16, and when Ishijima put his serve into the net it was all over.