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).