Thursday, July 22, 2010

Renewed Effort and Intensity Pay Off

The Sears Centre crowd of approximately 4,000 fans saw a much better Team USA effort compared to Friday night resulting in a 3-1 win against the visiting 2010 World League Pool C opponent, Finland. Last night’s star player Urpo Sivula was held to a “mere” 22 points when compared to his 31 point effort the night before. Clay Stanley lead Team USA with a total of 19 points including 3 from aces. Coach Alan Knipe made only one switch in starters replacing Sean Rooney with Matt Anderson on the left side. Anderson provided 16 points in the match including 2 aces and a block. Olympian Reid Priddy was removed from the match at the 3 – 3 mark in the second set replaced by Paul Lotman. Coach Knipe indicated that Reid “tweaked” his quad and he didn’t want to take any chances in furthering the injury.

Team USA started out the first set with intensity jumping out to a 3 – 0 lead which they held throughout the entire set. The starting lineup had Stanley, Holmes and Priddy in the front row with Anderson, Lee and Hansen across the back. Of course, Rich Lambourne was the Libero. The US lead 16 – 13 at the second time out and stretched the lead to 20 – 15 shortly thereafter. Finland made a five point run bolstered by a combination of stuff blocks, great digs and USA hitting errors bringing the score the closest of the whole match at 21 – 20. Team USA pushed back with their own 4 point run including a substitute serving ace by Evan Patak. A quick hit by Holmes ended the set at 25 – 21. Both teams were even on hitting percentage and blocks but the US lead in service aces, 3 to 1.

Eemi Tervaportii, the 20 year old Fin setter opened the second set with a float serve ace and scored another ace off Matt Anderson his second time around. This was a sign of things to come for Team USA especially once Team USA captain, Reid Priddy left the match. The Fin’s also put on a blocking clinic scoring 5 points on blocks. Evan Patak once again was subbed in for serving but hit long. Stanley was stuffed on the left side for the final point of the set giving the Fin’s a 25 – 18 win. Team USA started the same exact rotation as Set 1 but their hitting percentage dropped from .400 to .300. Finland hit .430 with 5 blocks and 3 aces.

Once again the Americans lead off with the same exact rotation as the first two sets with the exception of Lotman for Priddy. Each team traded sides outs and 2 point runs until the 13 – 13 mark. Team USA pulled away with a 3 point run and never looked back. For the final point, Paul Lotman was set three times in a row hitting into the Fin block with his third attempt finally resulting in the set point. He stepped up for the injured Priddy adding 3 kills, a block and an ace in the set. Matt Anderson and Clay Stanley added 5 kills each. The final score was 25 -19 and the Americans jumped to a .640 hitting percentage for the set.

The fourth set opened up with a Matt Anderson service error and another float serve ace from Finland’s Eemi Tervaportii. Team USA quickly tied it up but the momentum had moved to Finland as they lead 8 – 5 at the first technical timeout. There were several officiating calls that the Fin coach disagreed with including a pancake right in front of the down judge and the Fin bench that was ruled down. It looked like a knock down drag out fight with each team trading side out’s from 13 – 13 to the 22 – 22 mark. Clay Stanley changed the momentum with one of his classic aces. Last night’s star, Urpo Sivula was stuff blocked for the 24th and 25th points of the set. Team USA won the match with a 25 – 23 fourth set score. In addition to Stanley’s ace, Team USA has 7 blocks in the fourth set and hit .420.

You can hear more about Coach Knipe’s thoughts on individual player performances, the ever changing lineups and the starting setter position in the press conference video (posted a few days after the match).

No Answer for Sivula

Team USA had no answer for Urpo Sivula in their five set loss to Finland during the FIVB World League international men’s volleyball match tonight. The 22 year old opposite hit .570 with 28 kills, an ace and two block kills for a total of 31 points. Sivula routinely found a way to score a point with many points delivered against a three man USA block. The experienced “old timers” of Clay Stanley, David Lee and Reid Priddy kept Team USA in the match with strong play and dominated during their second and fourth set wins in front of approximately 3,500 fans at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, IL.

Team USA started Sean Rooney, Clay Stanley and David Lee in the front row with Russell Holmes, Kevin Hansen and Reid Priddy across the back. This was Holmes first start in the 2010 World League. Finland started out strong jumping out to 4-1 and 6-3 leads. Team USA battled back several times and actually took a brief lead at the 2nd technical timeout (16-15). Finland jumped ahead 23-20 on a Priddy service error, Rooney getting blocked and Sivula tooling a triple block. The set ended 25-22 Finland on a Clay Stanley service error. Finland hit .460 with 3 blocks and an ace. Team USA hit .390 with 3 blocks and 2 aces.

In the second set Coach Alan Knipe decided to dial the starting rotation with Priddy, Hansen and Holmes in the front row and Lee, Stanley and Rooney in the back. This rotation dominated from the start jumping to a 4-1 lead and at one time had a 20-11 lead. They never looked back finishing the set 24-14 on a Reid Priddy pipe attack that hit the tape and dropped in. Finland hit .310 with no blocks and an ace. Team USA hit .550 with 5 blocks and 2 more aces.

The same lineup began the third set and featured Clay Stanley serving. Stanley gave the fans a show with his first serve causing the Fins to commit a four contacts error followed up with an ace. Team USA lead 8-6 at the technical time out but began to struggle again at the 10-10 mark. Communication errors were resulting in players being out of place and easy serves hitting the floor while the team looked at each other. Finland kept a 3 to 4 point lead for most of the set at that point resulting in a 25-20 victory for the guests. Finland jumped to .540 hitting, added 4 blocks and 3 aces. Team USA fell to .400 hitting with 4 blocks and 1 more ace.

Coach Knipe inserted two new players in the starting lineup for the fourth set. Paul Lotman was brought in for Sean Rooney and Max Holt replaced Russell Holmes. The front row was Priddy, Hansen and Holt with the back row of Lee, Stanley and Lotman. The teams traded points until the 13-13 point. Team USA started to pull away with Holt getting a couple of kills and Stanley getting another ace. Holt ended up with 2 kills and an ace in the fourth set. Evan Patak subbed in for Hansen in a serving roll resulting in 3 quick points including an ace. Team USA finished off Finland 25-19. Both teams hit .570 and had one block but the home team had 3 aces to none for Finland.

The fifth and deciding set began with a mix of service errors and Sivula, Stanley and Priddy trading kills. Max Holt hit wide on a quick hit but Hansen teed it up twice for Holt the very next volley which resulted in a Holt kill making it 7-7. Matti Hietanen crushed a line shot to give Finland the 8-7 lead at the side switch. Matti Oivanen stretched the lead with his serving resulting in two back-to-back aces. The teams traded points until Sivula ends the match with his 31st point resulting from another tool of the block.

During the post match press conference, Coach Alan Knipe and Reid Priddy, team captain both alluded to their poor serve reception as a key contributor to their performance. Finland coach Mauro Berruto stated he is very proud of his young team’s performance during World League this year. Finland has intentionally chosen to play many of the younger players during this premier competition and they have performed well against all three Pool C teams which also includes Russia and Egypt. Finland has a win against Egypt and now the US and has taken at least one set in each of their matches. You can view the entire press conference at the link below.

Team USA and Team Finland will meet again on Saturday night at the same location. Tickets are available at the door.