Thursday, July 22, 2010

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.

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