CAGUAS, Puerto Rico, January 8, 2008.- Third world-ranked USA joined Canada in advancing to the semi final round of the NORCECA Men’s Olympic Qualifier after a victory over host Puerto Rico in straight sets before an enthusiastic local paid crowd of 9,750 at Coliseo Hector Sola Bezares. The scores were 25-21, 25-23, 25-22.
The triumph secured USA a place in the semi final round. Puerto Rico will meet Mexico on Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
Clayton Stanley and Ryan Millar led USA with 15 and 12 respectively and David Lee, Reid Priddy and Riley Salmon each contributed 8 tallies. Hector Soto was the top Puerto Rican with 15 points.
“I think the key was that we turned the points in the 20’s and is very good to win,” said Thomas Hoff, the American Captain.
“Now it is time to think in the next phase,” said coach Hugh McCutcheon. “We played good in some significant moments and we are happy with the win.”
Victor Rivera sent Puerto Rico to an 8-7 lead in the first set. The score was close until Puerto Rico extended the gap to 13-11 and the host team was ahead 16-14 at the second pause with a shot by Luis Rodriguez. The Americans tied at 17-all with consecutive spikes by Stanley and Salmon, and then took the lead with a block by Stanley. One ace by Priddy extended the lead to two points. One smash by Priddy finished it.
In the second set, the Americans led 8-7 thanks to a long serve by Victor Rivera. At 11-all, Salmon killed and blocked for a two-point lead, but Puerto Rico tied at 14 with smash by Rivera and Soto produced the margin for the host squad at 16-15. The USA team took the lead 18-17 with a kill by Priddy and one ace of Stanley. The attacks by Millar were decisive at the end.
Puerto Rico took an 8-7 margin in the third set. Soto broke a tie at 11-all with spike and ace for a two-point lead.
Two spikes by Millar tied it again, but then a couple of smashes by Soto produced a 16-14 advantage for the home side and Jose Rivera extended the gap to three points. The Americans came back to tie at 21-all behind Lee and Millar and took the lead 23-22 with one spike by Priddy. One block by Lee finished it.