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Preview of U.S. Men versus Russia

By Bill Kauffman | Aug. 03, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman (copy)/B.J. Hoeptner Evans (contact)
USA Volleyball Communications

Press Kit - Event Page

LONDON (Aug. 3, 2012) – The U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team won its 11th consecutive Olympic Games match dating back to 2008 with its upset over top-ranked Brazil Thursday evening to take the lead of Pool B, but the competition doesn’t get any easier in its next match on Saturday at Earls Court.

Team USA, ranked fifth in the world and the defending Olympic Games champion, takes a 3-0 record with nine points into its match against No. 2 Russia at 4:45 p.m. local time (8:45 a.m. PT). The Americans have already qualified for the crossover quarterfinals, but are shooting for the top seed out of Pool B in order to face the fourth seed in Pool A.

The Americans have defeated Serbia, Germany and Brazil to start Pool B undefeated. Team USA has lost just one set during the course of the 2012 Olympic Games, that being a 25-23 loss in the opening set on Thursday. Russia, 2-1 in the group with six points, holds victories over Germany and Tunisia with a three-set loss to Brazil. Russia is in third place based on tiebreakers with Russia as both have six points and 2-1 records.

The U.S. and Russia have not played each other in 2012, while Russia won both meetings in 2011 – a four-set win in the FIVB World League Final Round pool play and a three-set victory in the FIVB World Cup. Team USA holds a 56-44 record over Russia.

An interesting component of the match is that U.S. outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) plays club volleyball for Russia’s Zenit Kazan, which includes five players of the Russia Olympic Team. Russia star Maxim Mikhaylov, libero Alexey Obmochaev, middle blocker Nikolay Apalikov, middle blocker Alexander Volkov and winger spiker Yury Berezhko all play for Zenit Kazan, which won the 2012 CEV Champions League and placed third at the 2011 FIVB Volleyball Club World Championships.

Following its victory over Brazil, Team USA staff and players stress that there is room for improvement in a crowded field of gold-medal contenders.

“The thing that stands out probably the most to me is that we got better as the match went on,” U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Coach Alan Knipe said after the Brazil match. “We passed the ball better, we blocked better and we served the ball better. We were much better in counter attack and in transition. I was happy with the team composure after losing the first set.”

“There are six teams that can do well in the rest of the tournament, so we need to work hard,” Priddy said. “We improved from the last match, which was important. We don’t just need to win, we need to improve.”

Moving forward, Team USA will work on facets it can control.

“There are a lot of guys on this team who have played in big moments,” Knipe said. “They are a confident group who have worked hard to get here. We are focusing on the here and now and concentrating on what we can control.”

Opposite Clay Stanley (Honolulu), the MVP of the 2008 Olympic Games, ranks fifth in scoring with 48 points (38 kills, 5 blocks, 5 aces). He holds a .429 hitting efficiency (38-8-70) for second in Best Spiker. Outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), a first-time Olympian, ranks seventh in scoring during the 2012 Olympic Games with 47 points. He ranks fifth in Best Spiker with a .377 hitting efficiency (38-12-69). Priddy ranks 14th in scoring with 34 points and 13th in Best Spiker with a .309 hitting efficiency (25-8-55). Stanley, Priddy and Anderson are all in a tie for third place in Best Server with 0.50 per set.

Blocking has been a key area for the U.S. Men in the 2012 Olympic Games with Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) and David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) averaging 0.80 blocks per set for a tie for seventh place.

Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) ranks as the third best setter in the Olympics through three matches with 11.10 running sets average. He adds a team-high 1.70 digs per set for 11th place in the tournament. Anderson adds a 77.9 excellent reception percent to lead the Best Receiver category.

Russia’s Maxim Mikhaylov paces his team with 48 points for fifth place overall and is sixth in Best Spiker with a .364 hitting efficiency (41-13-77). Dmitry Muserskiy adds 28 points, including nine blocks as part of a 1.00 block average for third-best in Best Blocker. Alexey Obmochaev ranks second in Best Digger with 2.89 digs per set, while Alexander Butko ranks second in Best Setter with 11.22 running sets average.

In addition to the USA-Russia match, Saturday’s Pool B matches include fifth-place Germany (2 points, 1-2) versus sixth-place Tunisia (0 points, 0-3) at 9:30 a.m. local time (1:30 a.m. PT) and second-place Brazil (6 points, 2-1) taking on fourth-place Serbia (4 points, 1-2) at 10 p.m. local time (2 p.m. PT). In Pool A, sixth-place Great Britain (0 points, 0-3) hosts second-place Poland (6 points, 2-1) at 11:30 a.m. local time (3:30 a.m. PT), third-place Italy (6 points, 2-1) taking on fifth-place Australia (3 points, 1-2) and first-place Bulgaria (9 points, 3-0) challenging fourth-place Argentina (3 points, 1-2) at 8 p.m. (noon PT).

2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team
# - Player (Position, Height, Hometown, college)
1 - Matt Anderson (OH, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2 - Sean Rooney (OH, 6-9, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
4 - David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
5 - Rich Lambourne (L, 6-3, Tustin, Calif., BYU)
6 - Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7 - Donald Suxho (S, 6-5, Korce, Albania, USC)
8 - Reid Priddy (OH, 6-5, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
11 - Brian Thornton (S, 6-3, San Clemente, Calif., UC Irvine)
12 - Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
13 - Clay Stanley (OPP, 6-9, Honolulu, Hawai'i, Hawaii)
16 - David McKienzie (Opp, 6-4, Littleton, Colo., Long Beach State)
20 - David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)

Head Coach: Alan Knipe (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
Team Manager: Rob Browning (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: John Speraw (Irvine, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Gary Sato (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Ron Larsen (Lafayette, Calif.)
Technical Coordinator: Chris Jackson (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Medical Support: Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)
Scout Coach: Andy Read (Garden Grove, Calif.)
Scout Coach: Mike Sealy (Santa Monica, Calif.)

Pool A:
Bulgaria (9 points, 3-0)
Poland (6 points, 2-1)
Italy (6 points 2-1)
Argentina (3 points, 1-2)
Australia (3 points, 1-2)
Great Britain (0 points, 0-3)

Pool B
USA (9 points, 3-0)
Brazil (6 points, 2-1)
Russia (6 points, 2-1)
Serbia (4 points, 1-2)
Germany (2 points, 1-2)
Tunisia (0 points, 0-3)

July 29: Bulgaria def. Great Britain 25-18, 25-20, 26-24
July 29: Russia def. Germany 31-29, 25-18, 25-17
July 29: Argentina def. Australia 25-21, 25-22, 25-20
July 29: USA def. Serbia 25-16, 25-22, 25-21
July 29: Poland def. Italy 21-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-14
July 29: Brazil def. Tunisia 25-17, 25-21, 25-18

July 31: Serbia def. Tunisia 25-15, 25-21, 20-25, 25-18
July 31: Bulgaria def. Poland 25-22, 29-27, 13-25, 25-23
July 31: Italy def. Argentina 25-17, 21-25, 25-17, 25-23
July 31: USA def. Germany 25-23, 25-16, 25-20
July 31: Australia def. Great Britain 25-15, 25-18, 25-20
July 31: Brazil def. Russia 25-21, 25-23, 25-21

Aug. 2: Germany def. Serbia 22-25, 27-29, 25-18, 25-20, 20-18
Aug. 2: Bulgaria def. Australia 25-23, 25-21, 25-22
Aug. 2: Russia def. Tunisia 25-21, 25-15, 25-23
Aug. 2: Poland def. Argentina 25-18, 25-20, 25-16
Aug. 2: USA def. Brazil 23-25, 27-25, 25-19, 25-17
Aug. 2: Italy def. Great Britain 25-19, 25-16, 25-20

Aug. 4: Germany vs. Tunisia, 9:30 a.m.
Aug. 4: Great Britain vs. Poland, 11:30 a.m.
Aug. 4: Australia vs. Italy, 2:45 p.m.
Aug. 4: Russia vs. USA, 4:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m.)
Aug. 4: Argentina vs. Bulgaria, 8 p.m.
Aug. 4: Brazil vs. Serbia, 10 p.m.

Aug. 6: Australia vs. Poland, 9:30 a.m.
Aug. 6: Russia vs. Serbia, 11:30 a.m.
Aug. 6: Italy vs. Bulgaria, 2:45 p.m.
Aug. 6: Great Britain vs. Argentina, 4:45 p.m.
Aug. 6: USA vs. Tunisia, 8 p.m. (noon PT)
Aug. 6: Brazil vs. Germany, 10 p.m.

Aug. 8: Quarterfinal Matches at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m.

Aug. 10: Semifinal Matches at 3 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 12: Men’s Bronze Medal Match, 9:30 a.m.
Aug. 12: Men’s Gold Medal Match, 1 p.m.
Aug. 12: Men’s Gold Medal Ceremony, 2:50 p.m.