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U.S. Men Battle to Beat Cuba in Five Sets

Dec. 03, 2011, 7:54 a.m. (ET)

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

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 3, 2011) – The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team won its fourth dual of the season against Cuba, 25-20, 14-25, 25-18, 22-25, 15-10 on Saturday at the FIVB World Cup in Tokyo.

The U.S. Men (6-4), ranked fourth in the world, took their second five-set victory of the tournament, but remained in sixth place in the standings while Cuba (6-4), ranked sixth in the world, remained in fifth. The U.S. Men will complete the World Cup against Serbia (4-6; Dec. 4 at midnight PT).

Meanwhile, Russia took over the World Cup lead from Poland, which fell to Brazil on Saturday. Russia and Poland will play each other on Sunday for the World Cup title, although both have secured Olympic qualifying slots. The third qualifying slot will come down to Sunday as Brazil and Italy are tied with 21 points each.

The FIVB World Cup uses a round-robin format resulting in 11 matches over a 15-day period. The three teams reaching the World Cup medal podium on Dec. 4 will earn berths into the 2012 Olympic Games. For the full FIVB World Cup schedule and tournament details, visit the U.S. Men’s tournament event page at http://usavolleyball.org/events/5557.

Outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) led all scorers on Saturday with 25 points on a match-high 22 kills (73.3 kill percent; .733 hitting efficiency), and a team-high three aces. Outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) won his second Most Impressive Player award of the tournament with 18 points on 11 kills, a match-high six blocks and one ace.

Cuba out-attacked the U.S. 62-50, but the U.S. led in blocks, 14-10 and in aces 7-4. The U.S. Men also took advantage of 30 Cuba team errors while committing only 23.

“There was inconsistency at times, for us as well, but I’m still pleased,” U.S. Head Coach Alan Knipe (Huntington Beach, Calif.) said. “It’s late in this tournament, and we’ve had back-to-back five-game matches. Our guys did a good job sticking to the game plan, and in the sets where we were successful, I thought we did good job.”

The U.S. led 8-4 at the first technical timeout (TTO) of the first set and never looked back as Cuba could not close the gap. Cuba jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the second set and went on to win easily. The third set was tied at 13-13 when Priddy scored on a kill and block. Middle blocker Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) added a block to put the U.S. ahead 16-13 and the U.S. went on to win. The fourth-set score was tied 19-19 when Cuba used a kill and block to take the lead and then held off the U.S. for the victory. The score was tied 10-10 in the fifth-set tiebreaker when the U.S. scored on two straight Cuba hitting errors. An ace from middle blocker Ryan Millar (Alpine, Utah) put the U.S. ahead by three. Cuba came back with a kill, but was called with a net violation to give the U.S. match point. Priddy ended the match with an attack off the block.

Among other U.S. scorers, Millar had 12 points on seven attacks, three blocks and two aces. Holmes finished with eight points on four kills and four blocks. Opposite Evan Patak (Pleasanton, Calif.) added eight points on six attacks, one block and one ace.

Starting setter Brian Thornton (San Clemente, Calif.) was credited with 48 assists and set the U.S. to a 45.9 kill percent and a hitting efficiency of .312.

Libero Riley Salmon (League City, Texas) led the team in digs with 15 as the U.S. was credited with 31 total. Priddy led the team in excellent receptions with 21 while Anderson added 12 and Salmon had nine.

“Riley Salmon did a great job at libero. He provides a lot for our team. It’s fun to watch him play,” Knipe said.

Wilfredo Leon and Fernando Hernandez each scored 21 points for Cuba. After the match, Priddy commented on his battle on the left side against Hernandez.

“This whole tour our left side blocking was pretty much non-existent,” Priddy said. “I just wanted to be in good spots and be better athletically — and yeah, I think we went back and forth there a bit. [Hernandez] is a fast attacker and a few points went our way.”

This was the fourth time this season that the U.S. Men have faced Cuba and the third time it has gone five sets. The U.S. Men beat Cuba in the Final Round of the FIVB World League (23-25, 25-21, 25-18, 21-25, 15,13) and during pool play of the NORCECA Continental Championship (24-26, 25-23, 25-23, 25-17). However Cuba prevailed in the NORCECA final (25-23, 29-27, 25-27, 19-25, 15-8). The U.S. is now 74-69 against Cuba since 1981.

U.S. Head Coach Alan Knipe (Huntington Beach, Calif.) went with an 11-man roster as middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.), libero Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) and opposite Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii) all sat out the match.

Knipe started Anderson and Priddy at outside hitter, Holmes and Millar at middle blocker, Patak at opposite, Thornton at setter and Stanley at libero.

Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.), Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) all played as substitutes.

The U.S. Men led 8-4 at the first technical timeout (TTO) of the first set, then built on that lead, using a Priddy kill and kill and block by Holmes along with Cuba errors to lead 16-11 at the second TTO. The U.S. still led by five a 21-16. The U.S. got a big kill when a Priddy pancake save was set by Patak to Anderson who scored with the left-side strike. Cuba’s next hit went out of bounds to put the U.S. up 23-16. Cuba came back to score with a kill and called timeout. It scored on two more attacks and Knipe called timeout. Millar and Priddy used straight attacks to win the set. The U.S. led in kills, 5-11 in blocks, 5-1 and in aces 2-0. The U.S. also took advantage of seven Cuba errors while committing only four.

Cuba came out strong in the second set and led 8-3 at the first TTO, getting two kills, two blocks and one ace. The U.S. scored on a Priddy block and two Cuba errors. Anderson got a kill after the break, but Cuba came back with three straight attacks and Knipe called timeout. The U.S. used a 5-2 run after the break, including a kill and ace from Anderson to pull to within four at 13-9 and Cuba called timeout. The Caribbean team came back with a kill and went on to lead 16-11 at the second TTO. After the break, the U.S. had another hitting error and Knipe called timeout. Cuba came back with a kill and an ace before Anderson scored with a strike from the back row. Nevertheless, the U.S. frustrations continued. With Cuba leading 21-13, Knipe pulled Thornton for Hansen. Cuba immediately went after the new setter and reached set point at 24-13. Priddy scored the United States’ final point with a kill to make it 24-14 before Cuba’s Mesa ended things with an attack.

The U.S. came out stronger in the third set. With Cuba leading 7-4, the U.S. Men came back with a Holmes quick kill and Priddy ace to pull within one before Cuba’s Bell scored to give Cuba the 8-6 lead at the first TTO. Cuba still led by two at 13-11 when Patak got an attack off the block and Cuba’s attack went off the net. Priddy followed with a kill to give the U.S. Men a 14-13 lead and Cuba called timeout to try to cool off Patak’s serve. It didn’t work as the U.S. scored two straight points off blocks from Priddy and Holmes to lead 16-13. With the U.S. leading 17-14, Anderson scored on two straight kills. Cuba called timeout and responded with a Leon strike. But the U.S. scored again on an Anderson attack and Millar block to put the set out of reach. With the U.S. ahead 21-17, Anderson got a right-side kill, then took the serve and scored on two straight aces. Cuba scored with a kill, but Patak won the set with an attack off Cuba’s block. Anderson had nine points in the set. The U.S. led in kills 14-10, in blocks 4-1 and in aces 3-1.

The score was tied 4-4 to open the fourth set when Cuba scored on a Hernandez kill and a block to lead 6-4. The U.S. came back with a Holmes block. But Cuba scored twice more to lead 8-5 at the first TTO.  Cuba still led by three at 11-8 when the U.S. used a Patak kill, Cuba error and Priddy block to tie the score at 11-11. Cuba called timeout. Coming out of the break, Cuba was called for being out of rotation to give the U.S. a 12-11 lead. The teams traded points before Cuba found itself called again for being out of rotation. After much discussion among officials, the point was replayed. The U.S. scored on kills by Patak and Priddy to lead 15-13 and continued to lead 16-14 at the second TTO. Cuba came back to tie the score and eventually took the lead at 19-17. The U.S. called timeout and came back with a Patak attack and Anderson kill. Cuba scored with a kill and block and Knipe called timeout again. Priddy scored on a kill. The teams traded points before Cuba won the set on a U.S. serving error and a block. Cuba led in kills 15-11 and in blocks 4-2 while the U.S. led 1-0 in aces.

The score was tied 5-5 in the fifth-set tiebreaker when the  U.S. pulled ahead on a Priddy block and a Priddy out-of-system kill in transition. The teams traded points until the U.S. lead was 10-8 and Cuba called timeout. Cuba tied the score on a U.S. serving error and Cuba block. But two straight Cuban hitting errors put the U.S. back up by two. An ace from middle blocker Ryan Millar (Alpine, Utah) put the U.S. ahead by three. Cuba came back with a kill, but was called with a net violation to give the U.S. match point. Priddy ended the match with an attack off the block.

FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup 2011
U.S. Men's Roster for Dec. 3
No. Name (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)
3 Evan Patak (Opp, 6-8, Pleasanton, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
6 Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
8 Reid Priddy (OH, 6-5, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
9 Ryan Millar (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Utah, BYU)
10 Riley Salmon (OH, (L, 6-6, League City, Texas, Pierce College)
12 Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
14 Kevin Hansen (S, 6-5, Newport Beach, Calif., Stanford)
15 Brian Thornton (S, 6-3, San Clemente, Calif., UC Irvine)
17 Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)

Head Coach: Alan Knipe (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
Team Manager: Gary Sato (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: John Speraw (Irvine, Calif.)
Trainer: Ron Larsen (Lafayette, Calif.)
Doctor: Scott Magness and William Stetson
Technical Coordinator: Chris Jackson (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Medical Support: Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)
Massage Therapist: Eli Evette
Scout Coach: Frank Ciarelli
Scout Coach: Andy Read

Qualified Teams

Team (Qualification Method, World Ranking as of Jan 15, 2011, Current World Ranking)
Brazil (South America Champion, 1, 1)
Serbia (Europe Champion, 3, 5)
Cuba (NORCECA Champion, 4, 6)
Egypt (Africa Champion, 13, 12)
Iran (Asia Champion, 19, 14)
USA (NORCECA Runner Up, 5, 4)
Italy (Europe Runner Up, 6, 3)
Argentina (South America Runner Up, 8, 9)
China (Asia Runner Up, 11, 10)
Japan (Hosts, 14, 18)
Russia (Wild Card, 2, 2)
Poland (Wild Card, 10, 8)

Tournament Schedule and Results (All times local except for U.S. matches in bold)

1st round
Nagoya (Site A)

1 SRB-ARG 20-Nov 11:00 Nagoya ARG def SRB, 25-20, 25-13, 25-18
2 POL-CUB 20-Nov 15:00 Nagoya POL def CUB, 25-21, 25-23, 25-16
3 IRI-JPN 20-Nov 18:20 Nagoya IRI def JPN, 17-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-15
7 CUB-IRI 21-Nov 11:00 Nagoya CUB def IRI, 25-17, 25-17, 25-22
8 SRB-POL 21-Nov 15:00 Nagoya POL def SRB 21-25, 25-18, 25-19, 30-28
9 ARG-JPN 21-Nov 18:20 Nagoya ARG def JPN 25-22, 21-25, 11-25, 25-15, 15-12
13 IRI-SRB 22-Nov 11:00 Nagoya IRI def SRB 25-17, 18-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-11
14 POL-ARG 22-Nov 15:00 Nagoya POL def ARG 18-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-22
15 JPN-CUB 22-Nov 18:20 Nagoya CUB def JPN 25-21, 25-23, 25-22

Kagoshima (Site B)

4 CHN-USA 20-Nov 11:00 Kagoshima USA def. CHN 25-14, 25-23, 25-21
5 ITA-RUS 20-Nov 15:00 Kagoshima RUS def ITA 22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21
6 EGY-BRA 20-Nov 18:20 Kagoshima BRA def EGY 25-19, 25-13, 25-19
10 EGY-ITA 21-Nov 11:00 Kagoshima ITA def EGY 25-22, 25-15, 25-20
11 BRA-USA 21-Nov 15:00 Kagoshima BRA def USA 25-17, 25-18, 16-25, 25-16
12 RUS-CHN 21-Nov 18:20 Kagoshima RUS def CHN 25-18, 25-20, 25-18
16 CHN-EGY 22-Nov 11:00 Kagoshima EGY def CHN 25-20, 25-20, 25-18
17 ITA-BRA 22-Nov 15:00 Kagoshima ITA def BRA 25-16, 20-25, 18-25, 25-21, 22-20
18 USA-RUS 22-Nov 18:20 Kagoshima RUS def USA, 25-18, 25-19, 26-24

2nd round

Osaka (Site A)

19 ARG-CUB 24-Nov 11:00 Osaka ARG def CUB 17-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-17
20 POL-IRI 24-Nov 15:00 Osaka IRI def POL 23-25, 28-26, 8-25, 26-24, 15-11
21 SRB-JPN 24-Nov 18:20 Osaka SRB def JPN 25-21, 25-22, 18-25, 22-25, 15-12
25 IRI-ARG 25-Nov 11:00 Osaka IRI def ARG 15-25, 25-21, 24-26, 25-16, 15-12
26 CUB-SRB 25-Nov 15:00 Osaka CUB def SRB 17-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-17
27 JPN-POL 25-Nov 18:20 Osaka POL def JPN 25-23, 21-25, 19-25, 18-25

Kumamoto (Site B)

22 EGY-USA 24-Nov 11:00 Kumamoto USA def EGY 25-19, 25-20, 25-20
23 BRA-RUS 24-Nov 15:00 Kumamoto BRA def RUS 25-16, 25-19, 25-22
24 ITA-CHN 24-Nov 18:20 Kumamoto ITA def CHN 25-10, 25-18, 25-14
28 RUS-EGY 25-Nov 11:00 Kumamoto RUS def EGY 25-18 25-17 23-25 25-9
29 CHN-BRA 25-Nov 15:00 Kumamoto BRA def CHN 23-25, 25-10, 25-18, 19-25, 15-8
30 USA-ITA 25-Nov 18:20 Kumamoto ITA def USA 41-39, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21

3rd round

Fukuoka (Site A)

31 IRI-USA 27-Nov 11:00 Fukuoka USA def IRI 25-15, 27-25, 25-14
32 POL-CHN 27-Nov 15:00 Fukuoka JPN def EGY 27-29, 25-17, 25-23, 25-12
33 JPN-EGY 27-Nov 18:20 Fukuoka JPN def EGY 27-29, 25-17, 25-23, 25-12
37 IRI-EGY 28-Nov 11:00 Fukuoka IRI def EGY 25-18 25-21 25-15
38 POL-USA 28-Nov 15:00 Fukuoka POL def USA 25-15, 25-20, 25-18
39 JPN-CHN 28-Nov 18:20 Fukuoka JPN def CHN 25-23 25-20 26-24
43 POL-EGY 29-Nov 11:00 Fukuoka POL def EGY 25-21 26-24 25-21
44 IRI-CHN 29-Nov 15:00 Fukuoka CHN def IRI 25-19, 25-19, 25-17
45 JPN-USA 29-Nov 18:20 Fukuoka USA def JPN 39-37, 25-16, 25-15

Hamamatsu (Site B)

34 SRB-RUS 27-Nov 11:00 Hamamatsu RUS def SRB 25-16, 25-16, 25-15
35 ARG-BRA 27-Nov 15:00 Hamamatsu BRA def ARG 25-22, 25-20, 25-21
36 CUB-ITA 27-Nov 18:20 Hamamatsu CUB def ITA 25-21, 19-25, 25-20, 25-17
40 ARG-RUS 28-Nov 11:00 Hamamatsu RUS def ARG 25-23, 25-22, 25-19
41 CUB-BRA 28-Nov 15:00 Hamamatsu CUB def BRA 17-25 25-22 25-23 20-25 15-12
42 SRB-ITA 28-Nov 18:20 Hamamatsu ITA def SRB 25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 25-20
46 CUB-RUS 29-Nov 11:00 Hamamatsu RUS def CUB 25-23, 25-27, 25-18, 25-12
47 ARG-ITA 29-Nov 15:00 Hamamatsu ITA def ARG 34-36, 25-20, 25-19, 25-20
48 SRB-BRA 29-Nov 18:20 Hamamatsu SRB def BRA 27-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-22

4th round

Tokyo (Site A)

49 IRI-BRA 02-Dec 11:00 Tokyo BRA def IRI 25-20, 25-18, 25-16
50 POL-ITA 02-Dec 15:00 Tokyo POL def ITA 17-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-12
51 JPN-RUS 02-Dec 18:20 Tokyo RUS def JPN 25-23, 25-16, 25-23
55 IRI-RUS 03-Dec 11:00 Tokyo RUS def IRI 31-29, 25-21, 25-18
56 POL-BRA 03-Dec 15:00 Tokyo BRA def POL 25-18 25-21 18-25 19-25 12-15
57 JPN-ITA 03-Dec 18:20 Tokyo ITA def JPN 25-22, 26-24, 25-22
61 POL-RUS 04-Dec 11:00 Tokyo Yoyogi National Stadium
62 IRI-ITA 04-Dec 15:00 Tokyo Yoyogi National Stadium
63 JPN-BRA 04-Dec 18:20 Tokyo Yoyogi National Stadium

Tokyo (Site B)

52 SRB-EGY 02-Dec 11:00 Tokyo SRB def EGY 25-20, 19-25, 25-22, 28-26
53 CUB-CHN 02-Dec 15:00 Tokyo CUB def CHN 25-21, 18-25, 26-28, 25-20, 15-13
54 ARG-USA 02-Dec 18:20 Tokyo USA def ARG 27-29, 25-14, 25-17, 20-25, 15-12
58 SRB-CHN 03-Dec 11:00 Tokyo SRB def CHN 24-26 25-18 25-19 25-12
59 ARG-EGY 03-Dec 15:00 Tokyo ARG def EGY 25-20 25-21 25-17
60 CUB-USA 03-Dec 18:20 Tokyo USA def CUB 20-25 25-14 18-25 25-22 11-15
64 CUB-EGY 04-Dec 11:00 Tokyo Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium
65 ARG-CHN 04-Dec 14:00 Tokyo Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium
66 SRB-USA 04-Dec 17:00 Tokyo Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium
66 SRB-USA 04-Dec midnight PT