BEIJING (Aug. 12, 2008) -- The U.S. Men's Volleyball Team started out slow but picked up speed on Tuesday in its 24-26, 25-22, 25-15, 25-21 victory over Italy in an Olympic pool play match at the Capital Indoor Stadium.
In their second Olympic match without U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon who is still tending to his wife and mother-in-law at a Beijing hospital, the U.S. Men improve their record to 2-0 in Pool A. They will play Bulgaria (1-0 prior to its match against Japan on Tuesday) at 10 p.m. on Thursday at Capital Indoor Stadium.
Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawai'i) led Team USA with 23 points on a match-high 19 kills, three blocks and one assist. Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) added 20 points on 18 kills, two blocks. Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.) scored 12 points on seven kills, three blocks and two aces.
"Today's match had a lot to do with our serve and their serve receive," said U.S. Interim Head Coach Ron Larsen (Lafayette, Calif.). "It helped with our block."
Team USA finished with four aces and 15 blocks as opposed to Italy with three aces and nine blocks.
The U.S. Men completed 58 of 111 kill attempts for 36 percent efficiency. Italy completed 50 of 119 kill attempts for 24 percent.
"I think I was having difficulties in hitting," said Italy's Alessandro Fei, who finished with 11 points on nine kills and two aces. His teammate Hristo Zlatanov led Italy with 19 points on 16 kills and three blocks. "Of course the Americans played very well. So if you combine the two things together, this is the result."
Among other scorers, Riley Salmon (League City, Texas) scored 11 points on eight kills, two blocks and one ace. David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) totaled 10 points on five kills and a match-high five blocks. U.S. setter Lloy Ball (Fort Wayne, Ind.) had one point on one kill.
Ball was credited with 41 running sets for an average of 10.25 per set.
U.S. libero Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) was credited with 10 digs and three faults on 15 attempts. He was also credited with 25 "excellent" receptions on 33 attempts for a successful percentage of 76 percent.
Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.), Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Scott Touzinsky (St. Louis, Mo.) all played as substitutes.
In the first set, Italy held an 8-6 lead at the first technical timeout and led 16-14 at the second. With the United States trailing 16-18, a block from Millar and an ace by Salmon tied the score. Italy reached set point first at 24-23, but then committed an error to tie the score. A Zlatanov gave Italy a second set point at 25-24 and Alessandro's ace ended the set.
"I thought we started the match waiting to see Italy's strategy," Hoff said. "After the first and second sets, our block was very efficient." After that our offense got going and felt comfortable knowing the block was going well."
The United States led the second set 8-5 at the first technical timeout and 16-14 at the second. Italy came close to tying the score at 22-21, but Salmon's kill kept it out of reach. Lee won the set for Team USA with a kill.
The third set seemed like it would be close at first as the U.S. held a slim 7-6 lead. However, it reached the first technical timeout first on an Italian error, then scored four straight points behind the serving of Salmon to lead 12-6. Team USA extended the lead to 16-8 at the second technical timeout. Zlatanov scored one point on a kill, and Team USA scored the next three to make it 20-9. Italy never recovered.
Team USA used three kills from Priddy along with kills from Millar, Stanley and Lee to take an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout of the fourth set and led 16-12 at the second. The United States reached match point first at 24-19, but a Ball serving error brought Italy to 20 and Alberto Cisolla's kill made it 24-21 before Stanley ended the match with a kill.