U.S. spikers show mettle against Japan

Fivb.Org, Kyodo

The United States posted a straight-sets victory (39-37, 25-16, 25-15) over Japan on the third day of third-round action in the 2011 FIVB Men’s World Cup at Marine Messe on Tuesday.

The win made the U.S. record 4-4 for the tournament, while Japan slid to 2-6 with the defeat. Americans Matthew Anderson (19 points) and Clayton Stanley (14 points) starred in the triumph.

Anderson was named the most impressive player of the match.

Japan’s Daisuke Yako and Tatsuya Fukuzawa were bright spots with 11 points apiece.

The U.S. prevailed after a hard-fought first set that took them six set points to clinch. The Americans blocked well in the final set to secure the win.

“Our serving and passing were the difference,” U.S. coach Alan Knipe said. “A lot of times that’s what it comes down to. We kept the pressure on with our serving.

“It was a huge advantage for us to win the first set like that. This late in the tournament that is really big. You’re one point away in a situation like that. It’s difficult to respond after a tough loss like that. Usually it takes the first half of the next set to recover and that is why we applied pressure at that point.”

Team USA captain Clayton Stanley agreed with Knipe’s general assessment of the match.

“It was a good thing that we pulled out that first set,” Stanley said. “We had the same situation against Italy and lost and it took a lot out of us.

“Our middles played really well,” he continued. “I think we blocked well and covered our hitters. It was great to win.”

In the first set, the U.S. evened it 11-11 on an Anderson spike. Daisuke Yako’s attack made it 13-11 for Japan. Evan Patak served into the net to give Japan a 15-12 lead and a Kunihiro Shimizu spike sent Japan into the second TTO on top 16-12.

Ryan Millar’s spike made it 17-14. Anderson’s service ace brought the U.S. within two points at 20-18 and Japan called a timeout. But the set was far from over.

The Americans won it 39-37 on a Priddy service ace.

“The first set was the key,” Japan coach Tatsuya Ueta said. “We had both good and bad moments. We could not keep the situation like we wanted.”

With only three matches remaining, Japan at best can only finish in fourth place, as it is now impossible to overtake third-place Italy, which has a 6-2 record.

In other Tuesday matches, first-place Poland (7-1) routed Egypt (1-7) 25-21, 26-24, 25-21, while Russia (7-1) outclassed Cuba (5-3), 25-23, 25-27, 25-18, 25-12, leaving it in second place. China got its first win of the tournament with a 25-19, 25-19, 25-17 romp over Iran (5-3).