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U.S. Men Fall to Russia 3-2, Still Lead Pool

By Bill Kauffman | Aug. 04, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

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LONDON (Aug. 4, 2012) – The U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team lost to No. 2 Russia 27-29, 19-25, 26-24, 25-16, 15-8 on Saturday after it held a match point in the third set in a Pool B match during the Olympic Games at London’s Earls Court.

The U.S., the No. 5 team in the world and defending Olympic Games champions, falls to 3-1 in Pool B with 10 standings points heading into its final preliminary match against winless Tunisia (0 points, 0-4) on Monday at 8 p.m. local time (noon PT). The Americans, who had its 11-match Olympic Games win streak dating back to the 2008 Beijing Games snapped, can still win Pool B with either a three- or four-set victory over Tunisia.

Russia improves to 3-1 in Pool B with eight points to move into second place two points behind the U.S. Brazil (6 points, 2-1), which plays Serbia later tonight, can move into second place with a three- or four-set victory. Earlier in pool play the U.S. defeated Brazil, which defeated Russia causing the top three teams to have one loss each. Although the USA, Russia and Brazil have the possibility of all finishing 4-1 in pool play, the first criteria on pool seeding into the quarterfinals is standings point. By reaching the fifth set against Russia, the U.S. picked up an important standing point.

“The good thing is we can learn from this,” U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team Head Coach Alan Knipe said. “There’s a lot of things that we know on our side of the net we can do better. We also get a point. We wanted to win, but we do get a point and stay in the driver’s seat in the pool.”

The U.S. rallied from a 19-14 deficit in the opening set to win 29-27 on its fifth set point opportunity as Russia committed 15 errors. The Americans broke a 12-all tie in the second set with a 4-0 run, then tallied five of the final six points to capture a 25-19 victory with its seventh block of the set. Russia battled back from a 22-19 deficit in the third set, and after saving one match point, closed out the set 26-24 with an ace to extend the match. Russia built a 12-4 lead in the fourth set and withstood a Team USA challenge that narrowed the gap to 13-11, then controlled the rest of the set for a 25-16 win. Russia raced out to a 6-2 lead in the tiebreaker and continued to build its advantage to a 15-8 final.

“I thought the first set wasn’t really a clean set,” Knipe said. “We weren’t great in some areas. They missed a lot of serves. We got ourselves in a chance to steal the set and we did. I thought we played a really clean second set. I thought we served well, we passed well. In the third set I thought we put ourselves in a really good position to win the match and we had some opportunities in transition that we really didn’t take care of.”

Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) topped the U.S. in scoring with 16 kills on 32 attacks, one block and one ace for 18 points. Clay Stanley (Honolulu) added 14 points via 12 kills on 37 swings and two blocks. David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) charted 12 points on eight kills on 12 attacks and four blocks. Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) chipped in five kills, four blocks and two aces for 11 points. Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.) came off the bench to score five kills and two blocks for seven points. Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) tallied five points and David McKienzie (Littleton, Colo.) scored three aces on 10 serves as a serving sub.

“The mental aspect of this game needed to be better,” Holmes said. “We need to forget about this match, mentally reset our minds and move forward.”

Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) totaled a team-high nine digs, while Anderson contributed 25 excellent receptions on 40 errorless attempts. Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) provided 44 running sets as the U.S. offense converted 37.7 percent of its attacks with a .169 hitting efficiency (49-27-130).

“I think (Russia) made some changes to their personnel and they started to serve really aggressively,” Lee said. “They put us in a bad position where we couldn’t side out and we couldn’t run our offense.”

Knipe started Priddy and Anderson at outside hitter, Lee and Holmes at middle blocker, Stanley at opposite and Suxho at setter. Lambourne is the U.S. designated libero for the Olympic Games. McKienzie was a serving sub in all five sets, while Rooney came on as a sub in the fourth set for Priddy and started the fifth set. David Smith (Saugus, Calif.) was a sub in the first, third and fourth sets. Paul Lotman (Lakewookd, Calif.) was a sub in the first and third sets.

“We need to take from this something positive, that we need to continue to have a high level of energy throughout the entire match and not just go all-out in the first two sets and not finish,” Lee said. “It’s good that this happened in pool play. I think we have a great chance to beat Tunisia in the next match and from there win the pool.”

Russia used a formidable block to rally with nine blocks in the final three sets to take a 16-15 block advantage. Russia also held margins of 8-6 in aces and 67-49 in kills. Russia overcame 15 errors in the first set with just 17 the rest of the match. Russia converted 48.2 percent of its attacks with a .309 hitting efficiency (67-24-139) to make up for 20 service errors.

“I thought Russia made some good adjustments,” Holmes said. “They brought guys in and we didn’t adjust well and adapt well to the changes they were making.”

Maxim Mikhaylov led Russia with 27 points on 23 kills, two blocks and two aces. Sergey Tetyukhin added 21 points with 17 kills, two blocks and two aces.

Earlier today in Pool B Germany (5 points, 2-2) evened its record with a 25-15, 25-16, 25-16 victory over Tunisia (0 points, 0-4). Later today Brazil (6 points, 2-1) faces Serbia (4 points, 1-2) at 10 p.m. local time (2 p.m. PT). In Pool A, Poland (9 points, 3-1) topped host Great Britain (0 points, 0-4) 25-16, 25-19, 25-18 and Italy (8 points, 3-1) beat Australia (4 points, 1-3) 21-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-14, 15-13. Bulgaria (9 points, 3-0) will try to stay undefeated in its match against Argentina (3 points, 1-2) at 8 p.m. local time (noon PT).

Russia scored three unanswered points including two blocks to take a 6-3 lead in opening set. Team USA knotted the score at 7-all with a Stanley kill and block around a Russia attack error, then regained the lead at the first technical break with another Russia attack error for a fourth straight point on Suxho’s serve. Russia responded out of the break with four consecutive points to regain two-point cushion at 11-8 capped by conception aces. Russia extended the gap to 16-11 with a 3-0 run going into the second technical timeout. Team USA came out of the break with an Anderson kill after a Russia service error to close to 16-13. However, Russia answered with Mikhaylov kill and Tetyukhin ace for an 18-13 advantage. Lee put up a block and Priddy hammered a back-row kill after a Russia service error, its 10th error of the set, to close the deficit to 19-17 leading into a Russia timeout. The Americans tied the set at 20-all with three consecutive Russia errors – its 13th of the set. Lee hammered a quick attack to give the U.S. its fourth straight point on Anderson’s serve and a 21-20 advantage. However, a USA error pushed the Russians back in front 22-21. McKienzie gave the U.S. the lead back at 23-22 with an ace to follow-up an Anderson kill. After Russia saved four set points, the U.S. finally put it away on an Anderson kill after Russia’s 15th error of the set. Anderson and Stanley led the Americans with four points each.

The Americans continued the pressure early in the second set with a Stanley kill, Holmes block and Russia attack error for a 3-0 advantage. Russia collected the next two points to narrow the deficit to 3-2, then squared the set at 4-all. Holmes, Anderson and Suxho scored three straight blocks to push the Americans into an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout with Holmes serving. Russia evened the set at 12-all with a 3-0 run prompting a Team USA timeout. The Americans responded with a Priddy block and ace around kills by Holmes and Anderson to give the USA a 16-12 cushion at the second technical timeout. Lee connected for consecutive kills to extend the American lead to 20-15 going into a Russia timeout. Out of the break Russia chipped off three points from the deficit at 20-18 to prompt Team USA into a timeout. Stanley and Anderson answered with kills and McKienzie served an ace to lift the Americans back into a five-point cushion at 23-18. Team USA ended the set at 25-19 with a Priddy block after a Russia service error. Anderson and Lee totaled five points each in the second set as the U.S. racked up seven blocks and two aces.

Russia reached the first technical timeout of the third set leading 8-7 as the score was tied seven times with two lead changes and neither team leading by more than a single point. Stanley, Anderson and Holmes collected consecutive kills out of the break to yield a 10-8 American lead. Russia knotted the score at 11-11, but the U.S. returned to a two-point cushion at 14-12 with an Anderson kill after a Russia service error. Russia answered quickly with three unanswered points to grab a 16-15 advantage at the second technical timeout. Priddy picked up a block and kill to reverse the lead to Team USA at 18-17 leading into a Russia timeout. Out of the break, McKienzie served his third ace of the match as a serving specialist to increase the advantage to 19-17. Anderson slammed a kill and Priddy followed with an ace to push the gap to three at 22-19. Russia responded with two quick points to force Knipe into a timeout with a slim 22-21 margin. Russia added a third straight point with a block to knot the score at 22-all. Russia reached its first set point at 25-24 leading into the Americans second timeout. Russia then served for the winner at 26-24. Anderson tallied six points in the third set, but the Americans committed seven errors and Russia added four blocks.

Russia came out firing in the fourth set with a 6-1 lead and its lead reached seven points at 12-4 with two aces by Mikhaylov capping a 4-0 run. Team USA stopped the run with a Stanley kill and consecutive Rooney blocks at 12-7. Rooney scored three straight kills to narrow the gap to 13-10. The U.S. scored a fourth straight point on Lee’s serve with a Russia attack error at 13-11. Russia bounced back with an ace after a USA service error to return to a four-point lead at 15-11. Russia expanded its lead to 23-14 with a 6-0 scoring run. Rooney scored seven points off the bench, but Russia tallied four aces to keep the U.S. out of system much of the set.

Russia scored the first two points of the fifth set with a block and U.S. attack error. Russia expanded the lead to 6-2 with a 3-0 scoring run. Russia scored four additional points to extend the gap to 11-4. Anderson scored a kill after a Russia service error to close to 12-7. Russia finished out the set with a block and a 15-8 score for the match victory.

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 (9 points, 3-1)
Italy (8 points 3-1)
Australia (4 points, 1-3)
Argentina (3 points, 1-2)
Great Britain (0 points, 0-4)

Pool B
USA (10 points, 3-1)
Russia (8 points, 3-1)
Brazil (6 points, 2-1)
Germany (5 points, 2-2)
Serbia (4 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 def. Tunisia 25-15, 25-16, 25-16
Aug. 4: Poland def. Great Britain 25-16, 25-19, 25-18
Aug. 4: Italy def. Australia 21-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-14, 15-13
Aug. 4: Russia def. USA 27-29, 19-25, 26-24, 25-16, 15-8
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.