USA Volleyball Features U.S. Men Hold off Ja...

U.S. Men Hold off Japan in GCC Win

Nov. 19, 2013, 4:29 a.m. (ET)

KYOTO, Japan (Nov. 19, 2013) – The U.S. Men’s National Team overcame a tenacious Japanese opponent and some mistakes of its own to win its opening match of the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup, 25-17, 25-17, 21-25, 25-20 on Tuesday at the Kyoto Prefectural Gymnasium.

Reid Priddy attacks against Japan
   Reid Priddy, right, attacks against Japan on Tuesday.

The U.S. Men (1-0) will take on two-time defending champion Brazil (1-0) on Wednesday in the round-robin tournament (11:10 p.m. PT).

The U.S. Men dominated Japan in kills (55-35) and blocks (17-7). The teams were tied in aces (3-3) and the United States struggled with 22 service errors.

“We were very excited that we were able to get the win tonight,” said U.S. Head Coach John Speraw (Los Angeles). “We had the opportunity to compete against Japan twice before the tournament started. They beat us both times and played great volleyball.”

“Early in this match I thought we were playing really really well. We were using our size and blocking really well… We’re going to have to serve the ball better. That’s one thing about tonight’s match that wasn’t very good.”

Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), who played at opposite, was named the most valuable player of the match and led all scorers with 21 points on a match-high 19 kills and two aces. Middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati) added 18 points on 10 attacks and a match-high eight blocks.

Holt and Anderson set the pace for the United States in the fourth set after the third-set loss. After Japan went ahead 2-0, Holt scored on a block and gave the serve to Anderson who tied the score with an ace. Holt scored two more points on two straight blocks to put the U.S. ahead 4-2 and Japan never led again.

“We weren’t getting down on ourselves (after the third-set loss),” Holt said. “That’s a good team. At home, they were going to show some fight. They did, and we responded well in the fourth set.”

Among other U.S. scorers, outside hitter Jeff Menzel (Santa Barbara, Calif.) totaled 14 points on 13 kills and one ace. Middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) scored 10 points on six attacks and four blocks.

Outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) totaled seven points on five kills and two blocks. Setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu) scored five points on two kills and three blocks. He was also credited with 55 running sets.

U.S. libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu) led all players in digs with 14 and was credited with 14 excellent receptions. Priddy led in excellent receptions with 18.

Speraw started Priddy and Menzel at outside hitter, Holt and Lee at middle blocker, Anderson at opposite, Christenson at setter and Erik Shoji at libero. Kawika Shoji (Honolulu) played as a serving substitute.

The U.S. Men led 8-3 at the first technical timeout (TTO) of the first set, scoring five straight points behind the serving of Christenson. The U.S. expanded the lead to 16-8 at the second TTO and Japan never threatened.

The U.S. Men jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the second set behind the serving of Lee, who was supported by four straight kills from Menzel. Japan struggled to put a scoring run together until the U.S. led 21-12. Priddy served out of bounds and Japan scored two more points on a U.S. violation and a block. Speraw called timeout and the U.S. got the ball back on Japan’s hitting error. The U.S. went on to take the set.

Japan took its first lead of the match in the third set. With the host country leading 6-5, it went on a 4-0 run. The U.S. called timeout and respond with a right-side strike by Anderson. However Japan kept up the pressure with its tough digging aided by U.S. serving errors and led 16-13 at the second TTO. Japan was leading by five at 22-17 when the U.S. scored three straight points on three kills from Anderson to pull to within two at 22-20. But it was too little too late as Japan went on to win the set.

Japan went ahead 2-0 to open the fourth set. Holt scored on a block and gave the serve to Anderson who tied the score with an ace. Holt scored two more points on two straight blocks to put the U.S. ahead 4-2. Holt added two more kills and Anderson and Lee each had a strike as the U.S. led 8-5 at the first TTO. Japan didn’t give up and pulled to within one point at 16-15. With the U.S. leading 18-17, Anderson scored on a kill off the block, then served for the next four straight points, including an ace, to put the U.S. ahead 23-17. Japan could not respond.

Fourteen-Player Roster for FIVB World Grand Champions Cup 
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (OH, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State) 
2. Sean Rooney (OH, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
4. David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
6. Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
8. Reid Priddy (OH, 6-4, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
9. Murphy Troy (Opp, 6-8, St. Louis, Mo., Southern California)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
13. Futi Tavana (MB, 6-7, Kalaheo, Hawaii, BYU)
14. Jeff Menzel (OH, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-8, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
19. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)

Head Coach: John Speraw (Los Angeles)
Team Manager:  Andrea Becker (Martinez, Calif.)
Technical Coordinator: Anton Willert (Berlin, Germany)
Assistant Coach: Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) 
Assistant Coach: Mike Wall (Santa Barbara, Calif.)
Consultant Coach: Gary Moy (San Francisco, Calif.)
Consultant Coach: Tim Pelot (Florida)
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)
Doctor: Andrew Gregory (Nashville, Tenn.)

FIVB Men’s World Grand Champions Cup Schedule
(all times Pacific Standard)

Nov. 19
Italy def. Russia, 28-26 25-20 19-25 27-25
Brazil def. Iran, 25-16, 25-17, 25-27, 25-23
USA def. Japan, 25-17, 25-17, 21-25, 25-20

Nov. 19-20
7:10 p.m.: Italy vs. Iran
11:10 p.m.: Brazil vs. USA
2:10 a.m.: Russia vs. Japan

Nov. 21-22 
7:10 p.m.: USA vs. Italy
11:10 p.m.: Iran vs. Russia
2:10 a.m.: Japan vs. Brazil

Nov. 22-23
7:10 p.m.: Iran vs. USA
11:10 p.m.: Russia vs. Brazil
2:10 a.m.: Italy vs. Japan

Nov. 23-24
7:10 p.m.: Brazil vs. Italy
10:10 p.m.: USA vs. Russia
1:10 a.m.: Japan vs. Iran