Volleyball: U.S. Men Will Head to Beijing as World League Champions

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The U.S. Men, ranked third in the world, finish World League with a record of 12-4. Serbia, tied for eighth in the world with Puerto Rico, finishes second at 10-6. Russia defeated host Brazil, the five-time defending World League champion, 3-1.

The U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team won its first FIVB World League title on Sunday by taking as 3-1 (26-24, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22) victory over Serbia in the gold medal match before a crowd of 5,700 at Maracanazinho Gymnasium in Rio de Janeiro.

The U.S. Men, ranked third in the world, finish World League with a record of 12-4. Serbia, tied for eighth in the world with Puerto Rico, finishes second at 10-6. Russia defeated host Brazil, the five-time defending World League champion, 3-1 (25-23, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19) to take the bronze medal.

Team USA won $1 million for the overall tournament victory. Its previous best World League finishes were bronze medals in 1992 and 2007. All four teams in the medal matches will play next at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The men's tournament begin on Aug. 10.

U.S. setter Lloy Ball (Fort Wayne, Ind.) was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player and also Best Setter. Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) won the award for Best Libero for the second year in a row.

Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) led the U.S. Men on Sunday with 21 points on 18 kills and three blocks. Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawai'i) added 16 points on 12 kills - including the final three points of the match - three blocks and one ace. Riley Salmon (League City, Texas) scored 13 points on 12 kills and one ace.

Among other U.S. scorers, Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.) scored 10 points on seven kills, two blocks and one ace. David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) added nine points on seven kills and two blocks. Gabe Gardner (San Clemente, Calif.) scored four points on four kills and Ball had three points on two kills and one ace.

Ball was credited with 48 running sets, 51 still sets and one fault on 100 attempts for an average of 12 running sets per set on Sunday. Serbian setter Nikola Grbic had 39 running sets and one fault on 99 attempts for an average of 9.75.

Lambourne was credited with 11 digs and five faults on 17 attempts and also 26 "excellent" serve returns and one fault on 34 attempts for an "excellent" percentage of 73.5.

As a team, the United States was credited with 67.5 percent "excellent" receptions as opposed to 55.8 for Serbia.

Serbia's Ivan Miljkovic led all scorers with 28 points on a match-high 22 kills, a match-high four blocks and a match-high two aces.

U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon started Priddy and Salmon at outside hitter, Lee and Millar at middle blocker, Stanley at opposite, Ball at setter and Lambourne at libero. Gardner started the third set at opposite for Stanley, but Stanley came back to start the fourth. Scott Touzinsky (St. Louis, Mo.) and Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.) also substituted for the United States.

The U.S. Men jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the first set, but Serbia came back to lead 8-7 at the first technical timeout (TTO). Serbia then took a 16-12 lead, but the United States, led by Salmon with three kills, tied the score at 18-18. The teams battled back and forth from there. Serbia managed a 23-21 lead, causing McCutcheon to call timeout. The strategy worked as Miljkovic's serving error brought the U.S. Men back to within one at 23-22. Two straight kills by Priddy and Salmon gave the United States match point at 24-23, but Miljkovic tied the score with a kill. A kill by Lee followed by a Serbian hitting error gave Team USA the set victory.

The U.S. Men held an 8-7 lead at the first TTO of the second set and a 16-12 advantage at the second TTO. Serbia used a 6-2 scoring run, including two kills in a row by Bojan Janic, to tie the score at 18-18 and cause McCutcheon to call timeout. Miljkovic's serving error cooled Serbia and the U.S. Men took a 22-20 lead. But Serbia tied the score on two straight kills by Nikola Kovacevic and Miljkovic. A Millar kill put the United States up 23-22, but Serbia scored the next three on Kovacevic's kill and two blocks by Janic to win the set.

Gardner started the third set for Stanley and made his presence known with three kills that combined with two kill by Ball and a block and kill by Priddy to give the United States an 8-5 lead at the first TTO. Serbia went on the attack and tied the score at 14-14, then reached the TTO first at 16-15. From there, Serbia would take a small lead, and the United States would catch up. With Serbia ahead 21-20, Lee used a kill and a block to give the United States a 22-21 lead. Serbia called timeout, but the United States responded with a kill by Salmon and a block from Stanley, who had come back in for Gardner, to reach set point at 24-21. A U.S. error and Serbian block drew Serbia to within one at 24-23, but Stanley finished off the victory with a kill.

Serbia held an 8-5 advantage at the first TTO of the fourth set and seemed on its way to forcing a tie-breaker as it led 16-14 at the second TTO and then 20-18. But the United States scored three straight points on kills by Priddy, Salmon and Lee to take a 21-20 lead. Serbia tied the score on a kill by Nikola Grbic, but Stanley responded with a kill. Kovacevic attacked to tie the score at 22-22, and Stanley responded with another kill. Stanley's third kill gave the United States match point and Serbia's attack error sealed the gold medal for Team USA.

View the U.S. Men's World League Media Guide at http://www.usavolleyball.org/media/national/08WL_MNTMediaGuide.pdf.

The U.S. World League site is http://www.usavolleyball.org/national/08WL.asp.

The FIVB World League site is http://www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2008.

2008 FIVB World League Final Round
U.S. Men's Roster

1 Lloy Ball (S, 6-8, Woodburn, Ind., Indiana-Purdue, Fort Wayne)
2 Sean Rooney (OH, 6-9, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
4 David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
5 Rich Lambourne (L, 6-3, Tustin, Calif., BYU)
8 Reid Priddy (OH, 6-5, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
9 Ryan Millar (MB, 6-8, Palmdale, Calif., BYU)
10 Riley Salmon (OH, 6-6, League City, Texas, Pierce College)
12 C Tom Hoff (MB, 6-8, Park Ridge, Ill., Long Beach State)
13 Clay Stanley (OPP, 6-9, Honolulu, Hawai'i, Hawai'i)
14 Kevin Hansen (S, 6-5, Newport Beach, Calif., Stanford)
15 Gabe Gardner (Opp, 6-9, San Clemente, Calif., Stanford)
18 Scott Touzinsky (OH, 6-6, St. Louis, Mo., Long Beach State)

Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon
Assistant Coach: Ron Larsen
Assistant Coach: John Speraw
Team Doctor: Michael Wynn
Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock

Final Standings

1. USA
2. Serbia
3. Russia
4. Brazil
5. Poland
6. Japan
7T. Bulgaria
7T. China
7T. Italy
10T. Cuba
10T. Finland
10T. France
13T. Egypt
13T. Korea
13T. Spain
13T. Venezuela

Final Round Results

Pool E
July 23: Brazil def. Russia, 25-23, 25-18, 25-15
July 24: Russia def. Japan, 25-14, 26-24, 25-18
July 25: Brazil def. Japan, 25-16 25-23 25-15

Pool F
July 23: Serbia def. USA, 25-23, 25-29, 25-17
July 24: USA def. Poland, 25-18, 23-25, 27-25, 18-25, 16-14
July 25: Serbia def. Poland, 25-16, 25-18, 25-21

Semifinals - July 26
USA def. Brazil, 25-23, 25-22, 27-25
Serbia def. Russia, 25-19, 25-19, 25-23

Finals - July 27
Bronze Medal: Russia def. Brazil, 25-23, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19
Gold Medal: USA def. Serbia, 26-24, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22


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B.J. Evans
USA Volleyball
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