Olympic Volleyball: U.S. Men Upset Brazil
Bill Kauffman, USA Volleyball
The U.S. Olympic Men's Volleyball Team upset top-ranked Brazil 23-25, 27-25, 25-19, 25-17 Thursday evening in a battle of undefeated teams during an Olympic Games Pool B match at Earls Court in London.
Team USA, ranked fifth in the world and the defending Olympic Games champion, improves to 3-0 with nine points as the only undefeated team left in Pool B. The Americans continue Pool B on Saturday against Russia at 4:45 p.m. local time (8:45 a.m. PT) before concluding preliminary action on Aug. 6 versus Tunisia at 8 p.m. local time (noon PT). Brazil falls to 2-1 with six points in Pool B.
Team USA, with three Olympic Games titles to its credit, has now won 11 straight matches in Olympic Games competition, including the 2008 Olympic Games gold-medal match against Brazil. The U.S. has now leads Brazil 6-5 in Olympic Games matches.
Brazil came back from a 23-22 deficit in the opening set to win 25-23 with consecutive aces. The second set was full of roller coaster moments as Brazil scored eight straight points to overcome a 19-13 deficit. The U.S. recovered to take a 24-22 advantage, only to have Brazil save two set points and take a 25-24 lead. Team USA responded with the final peak with three straight points to close out the 27-25 victory. The U.S. used a 6-1 spurt in the third set to take a commanding 20-15 advantage and went on to win 25-19 as Brazil had troubles gaining momentum with five service errors. The Americans broke a 10-all tie in the fourth set with a 7-0 scoring run and ran away with a 25-17 victory to close out the match.
"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. "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."
Team USA opposite Clay Stanley (Honolulu) led all scorers with 19 points with 16 kills on 29 attacks and three aces. Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) added 17 points via 14 kills on 26 attacks, two aces and a block. Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) collected 11 kills on 26 attacks, two aces and a block for 14 points.
"We hung in there," Priddy said. "We were tight in the beginning and tried to do too much defense. They are a great team, and we are really glad to beat one of the world-class teams. There are six teams that can do well in the rest of the tournament, so we need to work hard. We improved from the last match, which was important. We don't just need to win, we need to improve."
David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) contributed seven kills on 10 errorless attacks and two blocks for nine points. Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) pocketed seven kills on eight swings, on ace and once block for nine points. Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) tacked on two kills and a block, while David McKienzie (Littleton, Colo.) rounded out the scoring with an ace.
Suxho provided 49 running sets on 81 assist attempts as the Americans converted 56.4 percent of its attacks with a .465 hitting efficiency (57-10-101). He added a team-high nine digs in the victory. Anderson was credited with a team-leading 21 excellent receptions on 27 attempts along with seven digs. Stanley and Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) handled eight digs each.
"It was an important match," Suxho said. "We worked hard and got better by sticking together and trusting each other more. (Brazil) is the best team in the world. The first set it was all them and we had to adapt and change for the second set."
Knipe started Priddy and Anderson at outside hitter, Lee and Holmes at middle blocker, Stanley at opposite and Suxho at setter. Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) is the designated libero for the tournament. McKienzie was a serving sub in all but the second set, while David Smith (Saugus, Calif.) was subbed into the contest in the first two sets. Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) appeared briefly in the third set.
Team USA held advantages in all three scoring categories: 57-56 in kills, 6-2 in blocks and 9-5 in aces. Further, Brazil committed 28 errors including 17 on the service line to the Americans' 23 errors. In addition, the U.S. held a 39-31 margin in digs. Brazil converted 50.9 percent of its attacks, but with only a .364 hitting efficiency (56-16-110) as 16 errors proved costly.
"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."
Leandro Vissotto paced Brazil with 15 points in the match, while Murillo Endres added 12 points. Lucas Saatkamp chipped in 11 points in the loss as eight different players scored at least two points.
The U.S. Men won the only prior match between the two teams in 2012, that being a four-set victory at the Pan American Cup when neither team utilized their Olympic Games roster. Before the 2012 meeting, Brazil had won five straight head-to-head matches in 2011.
In other Pool B matches, Germany (2 points, 1-2) rallied to defeat Serbia (4 points, 1-2) 22-25, 27-29, 25-18, 25-20, 20-18 and Russia (6 points, 2-1) topped Tunisia (0 points, 0-3) 25-21, 25-15, 25-23. In Pool A Bulgaria (9 points, 3-0) handled Australia (3 points, 1-2) 25-23, 25-21, 25-22 and Poland (6 points, 2-1) rebounded to defeat Argentina (3 points, 1-2) 25-18, 25-20, 25-16. Later tonight Italy (3 points, 1-1) faces host country Great Britain (0 points, 0-2).
Brazil scored first on its on serve following an Endres attack at 5-3. However, the U.S. came back with an Anderson klil and Lee block to tie the set at 5-all. Team USA took its first lead at 10-9 with a Stanley ace following a Holmes quick attack. The Americans extended the lead to 12-10 on consecutive Brazil errors. Brazil answered with an ace by Bruno at 12-all. The U.S. regained a two-point cushion at 15-13 with a Lee kill and Brazil attack into the net. Brazil knotted the score at 18-all after kill from Murilo, then took the lead at 19-18 on a USA attack error. Team USA responded with a spikes from Priddy and Stanley prompting Brazil to call a timeout down 20-19. Brazil reached set point with an ace by Vissotto at 24-23, then he added a second straight ace to close out the set 25-23. Stanley scored a team-high five points in the set, but Brazil's serve netted three aces.
Team USA used aces by Stanley and Priddy as part of a 4-1 scoring run to take a 4-2 advantage early in the second set. The Americans extended the margin to 6-3 with an Anderson block after a Brazil service error. Anderson served an ace off the net after his own kill to push the American lead to 9-5. The Americans extended the lead with an Anderson back-row kill and Priddy overpass spike at 11-6 prompting a Brazil timeout. Holmes and Priddy slammed kills prompting Brazil to call timeout down 19-13. After the break, Brazil cut three points off the deficit to 19-16 prompting Knipe to call timeout. Brazil scored a fourth and fifth straight points out of the break to close to 19-18. Out of a second USA timeout, the Americans hit wide allowing Brazil to knot the score at 19-all. Another two USA attack errors pushed Brazil in front 21-19 on an 8-0 run. Team USA broke the streak of points with a Priddy kill and Brazil followed with a wide attack to level the score at 21-all. Stanley scored a third straight point to yield a 22-21 American lead, then Priddy served an ace to extend the advantage to 23-21. Brazil tied the set back up at 24-all with an American attack error into the antenna. Brazil then regained the advantage at 25-24 with an unreturnable serve. Anderson responded with back-to-back points to return the lead to the U.S. at 26-25, then Brazil hit wide to provide the winning score at 27-25. Anderson tallied six points in the second set.
The U.S. grabbed an early 3-1 lead in the third set with kills from Holmes and Priddy. Brazil came back to square the set at 4-all after an American attack error, then went into the lead for the first time in the third set at 6-5. Consecutive Brazil errors put the Americans back into the lead at 7-6. Team USA stretched its lead to 13-11 with kills from Stanley and Lee. Brazil answered with two straight points winning the second on a block at 13-all. The Americans reached the second technical timeout leading 16-14 after back-to-back kills from Anderson and Priddy. Out of the break Anderson served a powerful ace to inch the margin to 17-14. The U.S. pushed its advantage to 19-15 with a Stanley kill and McKienzie ace prompting a Brazil timeout. Out of the break Stanley slammed a kill for a third straight point and part of a 6-1 scoring run to extend the lead to 20-15. Team USA ended the set at 25-19 with kills from Suxho and Anderson. Stanley scored five points in the third set, while Anderson and Priddy each added four points. Brazil committed five service errors in the set to keep it from gaining momentum.
Priddy tallied back-to-back kills to reverse the lead to the U.S. at 2-1 in the fourth set. Team USA extended its lead to 4-2 with kills from Holmes and Anderson. The Americans pushed the lead to 6-3 with another Holmes kill and Brazil back-row setter violation going into a timeout. Out of the break, Holmes found a seam for an ace at 7-3. Brazil stopped the run with back-to-back points at 7-5. Brazil scored consecutive points out of the first technical timeout to cut the gap to 8-7 and tied the set at 9-all. The U.S. regained a two-point cushion at 12-10 with a Stanley kill and Suxho block. Stanley added a third, fourth and fifth straight points with two kills and an ace off the net at 15-10. Team USA went into the second technical timeout leading 16-10 on a Brazil attack error, the sixth consecutive point for the Americans. Holmes added a seventh straight point with a block. Brazil answered with a kill and ace to slice the deficit to 17-12. Brazil narrowed the deficit to four points at 20-16. However, the U.S. scored four unanswered points with a Brazil error, Anderson kill and blocks from Priddy and Lee to reach set and match point at 24-16. Priddy ended the set at 25-17 with a kill.
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