Doug Beal is the CEO of USA Volleyball. He is in Krakow, Poland for the first round of the FIVB Men's World Championship
KRAKOW, Poland (Sept. 6, 2014) – The USA men lost today to France (FRA), 3-1! That was not something I had hoped or wanted to write. Our men won the opening set 25-19 and played one of their stronger sets of the tourney so far. But things went in the wrong direction from that point on, and the last three sets were -17, -15 and -21.
We tried several different players and a different lineup in the fourth set, all to no avail. This was an up-and-down match, as has been much of our play in the event. We can’t seem to keep a consistent rhythm on offense, pressure our opponents consistently from the service line, and keep our errors down; not a great recipe for success, especially against the teams in this group.
After the results today, and with the last pool match tomorrow, all six teams can still advance to the next round (the top four go on).
Puerto Rico (PUR), whom we beat two days ago and who hadn’t won a set until today, beat Italy (ITA) 3-1 and could advance (remember rankings are all based on points earned ahead of match record or set record). The USA plays Italy (ITA) tomorrow in the last match of the group, FRA plays Belgium (BEL) and PUR vs Iran (IRI).
I remember thinking and saying that we can’t get so excited after a wonderful performance like winning the World League earlier this summer – a terrific demonstration of the team’s ability and future. Likewise, we can’t get discouraged when we struggle. The world we are playing in is VERY competitive and VERY balanced. There are so many strong teams, you have to develop the ability to play at, or near, your best most of the time to be at the top. I think I remember something like, “be good over time!” This team has all the pieces to get there. They’ve shown that, and hopefully will do it again tomorrow. I think we’ve played with 6, 7 or 8 different lineups on the floor. Tomorrow, we want to find the winning one!
There was virtually a full house for our match (started at 1 in the afternoon here), a crowd of almost 15,000. We were even the crowd favorite, playing a team from Europe. The atmosphere is terrific, the arena is wonderful, the organization has been superb. I think the USA will be tomorrow too. I’d normally throw a few stats in, but there aren’t any really good ones to talk about, so I’m just trying to generate some positive energy to a good performance tomorrow. I’m eager to write a post-match victory report. DB