U.S. Men Take Third Straight from Japan

July 29, 2006, 12 a.m. (ET)
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (July 29, 2006) - The U.S. Men's Volleyball Team continued its reign over Japan with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-18) victory at their 2006 FIVB World League pool-play match on Saturday at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

The U.S. men swept six-straight games from the Japanese last weekend in Hiroshima, Japan, winning by scores of 25-15, 25-22, 25-17 on July 22 and 25-12, 25-21, 25-18 on July 23. Saturday was another quick match that finished in 1 hour, 10 minutes before an estimated crowd of 2,170.

The United States is now firmly in second place in Pool A with a record of 3-2. Serbia & Montenegro leads Pool A with a 4-1 record following its Friday win over Poland. Poland falls to 2-3 and Japan is 1-4. The United States and Japan will play again at 7 p.m. on Sunday in Minneapolis. The U.S. Men will face Serbia & Montenegro on Aug. 4-5 at Spokane Memorial Arena in Spokane, Wash.

"I thought we got off to a bit of a slow start," said U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand). "Fortunately, we were able to make some nice plays down the stretch such as Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii) serving for five points to close out the second set."

Blocking was key to the United States' victory as the U.S. Men tallied 15 scoring blocks to Japan's three. David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) led the United States in scoring blocks with four. Minnesota native Jim Polster (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) and Phil Eatherton (Glencoe, Mo.) each had three.

"I think we're better blockers than Japan," Eatherton said. "We played them well. We had good scouting reports and good video from our last matches."

Overall, Polster led the U.S. scoring with 13 points on 10 kills, three aces along with the three blocks. Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) added 10 kills and one block for 11 points.

As a team, Japan had two more kills than the United States, 37-35. Ishijima Yusuke led the Japanese team with 13 points on 12 kills and one block. Koshikawa Yu and Chiba Shinya each added 10 points on nine kills and one block. But the team fell victim not only to U.S. blocking, but also to its own serving and hitting errors.

"It was the same as the first two matches," said Japan Head Coach Tatsuya Ueta. "Our passing was bad, and we could not execute the rest of the game plan."

In Game 1, the United States jumped out to a 20-13 lead thanks to strong serves from Polster and Setter Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania). Japan hurt its own cause with service and hitting errors. The Japanese passing game also seemed to be inconsistent, perhaps due to the fact that it was the first international match for libero Masuno Akira.

Japan came out stronger in Game 2 and took an 8-5 lead before the United States came back behind the strong net play of Polster, Priddy and Eatherton and the serving on Lee, who took the United States from a 7-8 deficit to a 12-9 lead. Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii) came in to serve for five-straight points and closed out the game with a service ace.

Game 3 was more of the same as the United States took a 19-11 lead. Japan staged a valiant comeback and brought the score to 22-16, but it was too little, too late.

For more U.S. World League information, go to http://www.usavolleyball.org/National/06worldLeague.asp.

The FIVB World League web site is http://www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2006/.

2006 FIVB World League Standings as of July 29, 2006

Pool A
Serbia & Montenegro 4-1
USA 3-2
Poland 2-3
Japan 1-4

Pool B
Brazil 5-0
Finland 3-3
Portugal 2-4
Argentina 1-4

Pool C
Russia 4-1
France 4-1
Italy 2-3
China 0-5

Pool D
Cuba 4-0
Bulgaria 4-0
Korea 1-4
Egypt 0-5

U.S. Roster
Japan at USA
July 29-30 in Minneapolis, Minn.
(Twelve-man rosters can be updated between World League weekends)
1. David Lee (MB, Alpine, Calif.)
2 Pieter Olree (OH, Reading, Pa.)
3 Jim Polster (OH, Laguna Niguel, Calif.)
5 Rich Lambourne (L, Tustin, Calif.)
6 Phil Eatherton (MB, Glencoe, Mo.)
7 Donald Suxho (S, Korce, Albania)
8 Reid Priddy (OH, Richmond, Va.)
12 Tom Hoff (MB, Park Ridge, Ill.)
13 Clay Stanley (OPP, Honolulu, Hawaii)
14 Kevin Hansen (S, Newport Beach, Calif.)
15 Gabe Gardner (OH, San Clemente, Calif.)
16 Dave McKienzie (OPP, Littleton, Colo.)

U.S. World League Schedule
Date: July 14-15
Opponent: Poland
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah - The "E" Center
Match 1: Poland defeats USA 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23)
Match 2: Poland defeats USA 3-1 (26-24, 25-13, 20-25, 25-22)

Date: July 22-23
Opponent: Japan
Location: Hiroshima, Japan - Hiroshima Green Arena
Match 1: USA defeats Japan 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-17)
Match 2: USA defeats Japan 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-18)

Date: July 29-30
Opponent: Japan
Location: Minneapolis, Minn. - Target Center
Match 1: USA defeats Japan 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-18)

Date: Aug. 4-5
Opponent: Serbia & Montenegro
Location: Spokane, Wash. - Spokane Memorial Arena

Date: Aug. 12-13
Opponent: Poland
Location: Katowice, Poland - Spodek

Date: Aug. 18-19
Opponent: Serbia & Montenegro
Location: Beograd, Serbia - Hall Pionir
World League Final

Date: Aug. 23-27
Location: Russia