Their Best at Last; U.S. Men Beat Russia for Bronze

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans | Aug. 21, 2016, 1:36 p.m. (ET)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Aug. 21, 2016) – Throughout the Olympic tournament, veteran Reid Priddy was waiting for a moment he realized might not happen.

After starting for the U.S. Men’s National Team in three Olympic Games, Priddy had seen limited playing time in Rio de Janeiro, coming in as a substitute in matches against Canada and Mexico and not staying long.

USAV OLYMPICS MICROSITE | PRESS KIT | OFFICIAL STATS

But when the U.S. Men’s National Team needed Priddy in the bronze medal match against Russia, the four-time Olympian was ready and helped the U.S. come back from an 0-2 deficit to beat Russia, 23-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-19, 15-13 on Sunday at Maracanazinho arena.

It was the fifth men’s volleyball medal – the second bronze to go with three gold medals – for the U.S. Men (5-3) in the Olympic Games. Reigning Olympic champion Russia (5-3), the most decorated men’s team in history, was left off the podium for the first time since Atlanta in 1996. It was also the third gold medal won by USA Volleyball at the 2016 Olympic Games. April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings won the first bronze on the beach and the U.S. Women's National Team beat Netherlands for bronze on Saturday.Max Holt

Brazil later beat Italy, 25-22, 28-26, 26-24 to win the gold medal.

Priddy entered Sunday’s match in the first set in place of outside hitter Aaron Russell and finished with 18 points, second only to opposite Matt Anderson, who led all scorers with 21 points.

But perhaps more importantly, Priddy provided good passing and a sense of calmness to the young team.

“Even before this match, I came to terms with the fact that the relationships and the experiences were worth it,” said Priddy, who has announced that this was his last indoor volleyball match. “This was just icing on the cake. Just to grind out there with the guys and get sweaty again felt really good. Finally, I used the second jersey.

“I won before this game started.”

With Russia hitting hard and serving tough, the U.S. Men needed Priddy’s passing and digging support. But Priddy attacked from the back row and at the net as well.

“It’s unbelievable. Reid comes in and just makes every play imaginable,” said U.S. setter Micah Christenson, who played with Priddy on the same Italian club team this winter. “He’s such a great guy and great example for the sport. He came in and really pulled us to victory tonight.”

Although he uses substitutes sparingly, U.S. Men’s Head Coach John Speraw said he was ready to do so against Russia. Besides Priddy, he also brought in outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke to finish the second set for Taylor Sander, who went on to finish with 17 points.

“I think it really took so much for us to come back and play after the disappointment of the Italian match (a loss in the semifinals),” Speraw said. “I was watching our guys in the first two sets… I could empathize with where they were. It was really, really hard. But before the match started, I had a pretty good suspicion that that would be the case and that we would have to go to our bench. I was prepared to do that early and did.”

The match proved to be a microcosm of the Olympic tournament for the U.S. Men, who lost their two matches and had to win the next three to qualify for the quarterfinals.

“It’s fitting that we end like that,” U.S. middle blocker Max Holt said. “This whole tournament we’ve been fighting for our lives. We weren’t going to go down like that. Everybody just dug deep.

“It took us a couple sets to get going. But once we figured out their schemes and put a better game plan together to stop their big boys and served a little more aggressively, we just fought.”

Holt finished with 13 points, including three aces and two blocks. Lee scored 11 points on nine kills and two blocks. The U.S. led Russia in kills (72-52) and aces (8-5) while Russia led in blocks (12-8). Opposite Kostyantyn Bakun, middle blocker Artem Volvich and outside hitter Egor Kliuka each scored 14 point for Russia.

U.S. Starters vs Russia
Outside hitters: Taylor Sander and Aaron Russell
Middle blockers: Max Holt and David Lee
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji

U.S. Statistics vs Russia 
Kills: Matt Anderson 18, Reid Priddy 17, Taylor Sander 14, David Lee 9, Max Holt 8, Aaron Russell 2, Micah Christenson 2, Thomas Jaeschke 2
Blocks: Holt 2, Lee 2, Anderson 2, Sander 1, Jaeschke 1
Aces: Holt 3, Sander 2, Christenson 1, Priddy 1, Anderson 1
Digs: Erik Shoji 9, Sander 7, Anderson 5, Christenson 5, Priddy 4, Lee 2, Holt 1, Russell 1

U.S. Olympic Men's Volleyball Roster
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (Opp, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2. Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State)
3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, 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)
10. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-7, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

Staff

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Leader: Erik Sullivan
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Sports Psychologist: Andrea Becker
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Team Doctor: Andrew Gregory
Scout Coach: Anton Brams
Scout Coach: Charlie Sullivan
Technical Support: David Dantes

2016 Olympic Games Men’s Indoor Volleyball Pools
Pool A: Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Mexico, USA
Pool B: Argentina, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Poland, Russia

20016 Olympic Games Men’s Indoor Volleyball Pool Schedule
All times EDT

Aug. 7
Italy def France, 25-20, 25-20, 25-15
Brazil def Mexico, 23-25, 25-19, 25-14, 25-18
Poland def Egypt, 25-18, 25-20, 25-17
Canada def USA, 25-23, 25-17, 25-23
Russia def Cuba, 25 - 17 25 - 19 22 - 25 25 - 18
Argentina def Iran, 25 - 23 26 - 24 25 - 18

Aug. 9
Argentina def Russia, 25-18, 18-25, 25-18, 25-21
France def Mexico, 25-18, 25-12, 25-22
Italy def USA, 28-26, 20-25, 25-23, 25-23
Poland def Iran, 25-17, 25-23, 23-25, 20-25, 18-16
Egypt def Cuba def Egypt, 25-22, 25-15, 25-22
Brazil def Canada, 24-26, 25-18, 25-22, 25-17

Aug. 11
Iran def Cuba, 25-21, 31-29, 25-16
Russia def Egypt, 25-22, 25-17, 25-9
Poland def Argentina, 25-21, 25-19, 37-35
France def Canada, 25-19, 25-16, 25-19
Italy def Mexico, 25-17, 25-13, 25-17
USA def Brazil,25-20, 25-23, 20-25, 25-20

Aug. 13
Iran def Egypt, 28-26, 25-22, 25-16
Argentina def Cuba, 25-16, 25-14, 25-16
Russia def Poland, 25-18, 16-25, 25-18, 22-25, 15-13
USA def France, 25-22, 25-22, 14-25, 25-22
Canada def Mexico, 25-20, 25-13, 25-22
Italy def Brazil, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-15

Aug. 15
Argentina def Egypt, 25-16, 25-19, 25-20
USA def Mexico, 25-16, 25-19, 25-20
Russia def Iran, 25-23, 25-16, 25-20
Poland def Cuba, 25-18, 25-15, 25-17
Canada def Italy, 25-23, 25-17, 16-25, 25-21
Brazil def France, 25-22, 22-25, 25-20, 25-23

Aug. 17
Quarterfinals

Russia def Canada, 25-15, 25-20, 25-18
USA def Poland, 25-23, 25-22, 25-20
Italy def Iran, 31-29, 25-19, 25-17
Brazil vs Argentina, 25-22, 17-25, 25-19, 25-23

Aug. 19
Semifinals
Italy def USA, 30-28, 26-28, 9-25, 25-22, 15-9
Brazil def Russia, 25-21, 25-20, 25-17

Aug. 21
Bronze: USA def Russia, 23-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-19, 15-13
Gold: Brazil def Italy, 25-22, 28-26, 26-24