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Beal Blog: Leaving Krakow on a High Note

Sept. 08, 2014, 4:27 p.m. (ET)

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. 7, 2014) – The U.S. Men played the way they would like to play every match; the way we’d all like to see them play every match (especially the coaching staff), and probably the way they wished they had played from the start of this pool. They beat Italy (ITA) 3-1 in convincing fashion; the scores were 18, 20, -23, and 17.

U.S. Men's National Team
  The U.S. Men celebrate their victory over Italy.

This is one of the few matches where opposite Matt Anderson or outside hitter Taylor Sander did not lead the team in kills, but middle Max Holt was almost unstoppable and led the team in kills and total points. The first set was perhaps our best. We controlled it all the way, created numerous scoring opportunities with good serving, several block touches, some nice defense; and then converted six times to score!! Paul Lotman has started in the other outside position with Taylor Sander the last two matches and seemed much more comfortable today. He was our most effective server, passed well and had a strong offensive match.

The arena was full (15,000 again). They were overwhelmingly for the USA (as well as Lotman, who plays professionally here in Poland). The energy, noise level, music, dancers, cheerleaders, etc. kept the environment upbeat and very positive for the teams. The Polish fans really do love the sport. They cheer all good plays, love the long rallies, do the wave, the kissing cam, and several other fun group waves, songs and generally get very “into” the match. It’s just a great place to play and generally the teams respond and put on a terrific show. 

The USA now moves on in the tourney as the third-place finisher in our pool. We combine now with the four top teams from Pool A (POL, SRB, ARG, and AUS). We will play each of them, carrying with us our total points earned in our first pool from matches against the teams also advancing (sound confusing? It is)!! Our second-round pool starts as follows (with starting points); Poland-9, France-7, Serbia-6, Iran-5, USA-4, Argentina-3, Italy-2 and Australia-0. We play Poland, Serbia, Australia and Argentina in that order.

We travel tomorrow to Lodz and have another off day on Tuesday, then play Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The top three teams from our group of eight will advance to the final six.  The other second-round group of eight has Brazil-9, Russia-8, Germany-6, Canada-5, Bulgaria-5, Finland-2, Cuba-1 and China-0. Might just be easier to go to the FIVB website and the WC home page to see the details and schedule and figure it all out. Most important, and always the bottom line is, the USA has to play well and win!! We’re starting the group in fifth place, two points away from third. 

The Polish organizers have really done a spectacular job so far: great crowds, terrific venues, great service at the hotels, transportation, etc. Hard to say enough about the quality of the event. I’ll be returning to the USA tomorrow (actually today now), and follow the men’s team journey and performance on TV. It’s great to be able to do that in the U.S. If the team can build on the performance they showed against Italy, then I like our chances. Next up is the host nation Poland on Wednesday.

Good luck to the team, been great to share this starting pool!!! DB