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U.S. Men Fight Back to Defeat Cuba at NORCECA

Aug. 31, 2011, 8:49 p.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: (719) 228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org

Unofficial DataVolley Statistics * Official Statistics

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 31, 2011) – The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team fought back from a difficult first-set loss to defeat Cuba, 24-26, 25-23, 25-23, 25-17 on Wednesday at the 2011 Men’s NORCECA Continental Championship in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

The United States (3-0) wins Group B and will have Thursday off while the quarterfinals are played. It will play again in Friday’s semifinals (3 p.m. or 5 p.m. PT). Cuba (2-1) will play in Thursday’s quarterfinals. The top two finishers at NORCECA will qualify for the 2011 FIVB World Cup, which is the first qualifier for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Men looked to have the first set well in hand when they took a 20-11 lead and reached set point at 24-15. However Cuba came back to score 11 straight points, on four blocks, three attacks, two aces and two U.S. errors, to win, 26-24. The United State pushed the loss aside and won the next two sets in tight matches. They won the fourth set more easily, although Cuba did not give up at the end.

"At this stage every team is invested in the match and that’s what we saw today," U.S. Head Coach Alan Knipe (Huntington Beach, Calif.) said. "You must finish a set and not lose the momentum. Cubans resolved to win the first set and I believe it’s a good lesson for both teams."

The U.S. Men got eight points (seven kills and one ace) from Team Captain Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii), who came back from an ankle injury suffered on Monday to start the third and fourth sets at opposite.

"Both teams are competing this summer and the next to qualify for the Olympics head-to-head and we both tried to win tonight," Stanley said. "It is a lesson for us to know how to close a set as the Cubans do."

U.S. outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) led all scorers with 23 points on a match-high 22 kills (0.529 hitting efficiency) and one ace. Anderson led the U.S. Men’s comeback with nine points in the second set and nine more in the third.

Outside hitter Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) added 13 points on 10 attacks, one block and two aces.

The U.S. Men led in successful attacks 56-51. They had a hitting efficiency of 0.384 and completed 50 percent of their attack attempts. Cuba’s hitting efficiency was 0.299 and its kill percent was 43.6.

The U.S. led in blocks (10-7) and in aces (8-5). The U.S. scored on 25 Cuban errors while committing 26.

Cuba was led by 18-year-old Team Captain Wilfredo Leon, who had 19 points on 17 attacks and two blocks.

Among other U.S. scorers, middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) finished with 11 points on six kills, three blocks and two aces. Middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) had 10 points on seven attacks and three aces.

Opposite Evan Patak (Pleasanton, Calif.) finished with seven points on three kills, two blocks and two aces and setter Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.) had two points on one block and one ace. Hansen was also credited with 21 assists.

Libero Rich Lambourne (Tustin Calif.) led the United States in digs with seven and was also credited with 10 receptions. Anderson led the team in receptions with 20.

U.S. Men’s Head Coach Alan Knipe started Anderson and Lotman at outside hitter, Lee and Holt at middle blocker, Patak at opposite, Hansen at setter and Lambourne at libero.

Stanley played as a substitute in the first two sets and replace Patak to start at opposite in the third and fourth. Middle blocker Ryan Millar (Alpine, Utah) also played as a substitute.

The U.S. Men took an 8-3 lead at the first technical timeout (TTO) of the first set, scoring on three Lotman kills, two Patak aces and a Lee block along with two errors from Cuba. Cuba came back with a point out of the break, but the U.S. scored three more straight points on a Lotman attack and blocks from Patak and Holt. The U.S. extended its lead to 16-7 at the second TTO, getting three points from Holt on two blocks and a kill along with a block from Patak and attacks from Lotman and Anderson. With the U.S. leading 17-8, Cuba went on a three-point run to pull to within five at 17-12. Anderson ended the threat with an attack, followed by a Holt block. The U.S. Men reached set point at 24-14 on a block by Patak. However, Cuba came back to score 11 straight points, on four blocks, three attacks, two aces and two U.S. errors, and win the set. Raydel Hierrezuelo scored four points for Cuba in the run. Holt and Patak led the U.S. with five points each.

The second set was a back-and-forth battle. Cuba took an 8-7 lead at the first TTO while the U.S. led 16-15 at the second. The score was tied at 22-22 when the U.S. got two points on kills from Lee and Anderson to reach 24-22. Cuba scored once more on a kill by before the U.S. won the set on a Holt strike..

With Stanley in as the starting opposite, the third set was again close. The score was tied at 5-5 when Cuba scored twice on a kill and U.S. error to lead 7-5. The U.S. Men came back to score twice on attacks from Stanley and Holt to tie the score. But a U.S. error gave Cuba an 8-7 lead at the first TTO. The teams traded points until the score was tied at 14-14 and Cuba had two straight errors to give the U.S. the 16-14 lead at the second TTO. Cuba came back to tie the score on an ace and kill and battle continued until the score was tied at 23-23. Two straight attacks from Lotman and Holt gave the U.S. the set victory.

In the fourth set, The U.S. led 8-7 at the first TTO and used a Lotman kill to increase the lead to 9-7. Cuba scored on a U.S. error, but a Stanley attack sparked a four-point run and the U.S. Men led 13-8. Cuba scored on a U.S. error, but the United States came back with three more straight points on a Cuban error, Hansen attack and Lee block to lead 16-9. The U.S. led 23-14 when Cuba scored three straight points on two kills and a U.S. error and it looked like their might be another comeback. But at 23-17, the U.S. Men scored the final two points on Cuba’s hitting errors for the victory.

2011 NORCECA Men's Continental Championship
Aug. 29-Sept. 3
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

U.S. Men's Roster
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1 Matt Anderson (OH, 6-7, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2 Sean Rooney (OH, 6-9, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
3 Evan Patak (Opp, 6-8, Pleasanton, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
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)
9 Ryan Millar (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Utah, BYU)
10 Brian Thornton (S, 6-3, San Clemente, Calif., UC Irvine)
13 Clay Stanley (Opp, 6-9, Honolulu, Hawai'i, Hawaii)
14 Kevin Hansen (S, 6-5, Newport Beach, Calif., Stanford)
16 Jayson Jablonsky (OH, 6-5, Yorba Linda, Calif., UC Irvine)
17 Max Holt (MB, 6-8, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)

Head Coach: Alan Knipe (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
Team Manager: Gary Sato (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: John Speraw (Irvine, Calif.)
Therapist/Trainer: Frank Ciarelli
Technical Coordinator: Chris Jackson (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Medical Support: Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)
Team Doctor: David Dyck

Schedule (All times PT) and Results

Group A
Aug. 29: Canada def. Mexico, 25-21, 23-25, 27-25, 25-22
Aug. 29: Puerto Rico def. St. Lucia, 25-11, 25-17, 25-11
Aug. 30: Canada def. St. Lucia, 25-18, 25-14, 25-13
Aug. 30: Mexico vs. Puerto Rico, 27-25, 25-19, 25-17
Aug. 31: Mexico def. St. Lucia, 25-16, 25-14, 25-22
Aug. 31: Puerto Rico vs. Canada at 5 p.m.

Group B
Aug. 29: USA def. Trinidad and Tobago, 25-15, 25-7, 25-12
Aug. 29: Cuba def. Costa Rica, 25-16, 25-13, 25-15
Aug. 30: Cuba def. Trinidad and Tobago, 25-14, 25-15, 25-13
Aug. 30: USA def. Costa Rica vs. USA, 25-16, 25-12, 25-9
Aug. 31: Trinidad and Tobago def. Costa Rica, 26-24, 25-17, 28-26
Aug. 31: USA def. Cuba, 24-26, 25-23, 25-23, 25-17

Sept. 1: 2nd B vs. 3rd A at 3 p.m.
Sept. 1: 2nd A vs. 3rd B at 5 p.m.

Classifications 5-8
Sept. 2: 4th A vs. Loser of M14* (or M13) at 11 a.m.
Sept. 2: 4th B vs. Loser of M13* (or M14) at 1 p.m.

Sept. 2: 1st B vs. Winner of M14* (or M13) at 3 p.m.
Sept. 2: 1st A vs. Winner of M13* (or M14) at 5 p.m.

Final Classification 7-8
Sept. 3: Loser of M15 vs. Loser of M16 at 11 a.m.

Final Classification 5-6
Sept. 3: Winner of M15 vs. Winner of M16 at 1 p.m.

Sept. 3: Loser of M17 vs. Loser of M18 at 3 p.m.
Sept. 3: Winner of M17 vs. Winner of M18 at 5 p.m.