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U.S. Men Fall in Four to Bulgaria at World League

by B.J. Hoeptner Evans - USA Volleyball - July 19, 2008


Photo: Courtesy of the FIVB.

U.S. setter Kevin Hansen, left, keeps his hand on the ball against Bulgaria on July 19.

B.J. Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800       

ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 19, 2008) – The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team fought the good fight but again came up short against Bulgaria on Saturday, and lost a two-hour, four-set match (20-25, 25-20, 20-25, 33-35) in an FIVB World League match in Varna, Bulgaria.

After losses on Friday and Saturday, the U.S. Men finish World League intercontinental pool play with a 9-3 record and win Pool C. Bulgaria finishes second with a record of 8-4. The United States will travel straight from Bulgaria to Rio de Janeiro for the World League final round on July 23-27. In the other Pool C match played Saturday, Finland defeated Spain, 3-0, and finished pool play in third place.

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov attended Saturday’s match along with approximately 6,600 other spectators to watch the two Olympic qualifiers, ranked No. 3 (United States) and No. 4 (Bulgaria) in the world, battle it out.  The U.S. Men will play Bulgaria at the 2008 Olympic Games on Aug. 14 at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing. Both teams are in Pool A.

“Of course I don’t like losing, but generally we reached our goals,” U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said. “Young players have gained a lot of useful experience and Tom Hoff and Gabe Gardner came back after injury troubles.”

 “There is no shame to be defeated in an arena with so many people cheering against us,” U.S. Team Captain Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.) said. “Bulgaria played better volleyball than yesterday. We made it hard for them to close the match. Our coach is always preaching to us to fight for every ball; so we did that in the fourth set.”

Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.) led the U.S. Men on Saturday with 21 points on 19 kills and two blocks. Gabe Gardner (San Clemente, Calif.) added 17 points on 15 kills and two blocks. Scott Touzinsky (St. Louis, Mo.) scored 12 points on 11 kills and one block.

Delano Thomas (Sacramento, Calif.) scored nine points on nine kills. Phil Eatherton (Glencoe, Mo.) added six points on five kills and one block. Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.) totaled three points on one kill and two blocks and Hoff finished with one point on one kill.

Libero Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) was credited with eight digs in 17 attempts and 14 “excellent” serve receptions. Rooney had 23 “excellent” serve receptions and no faults in 34 attempts.

Bulgaria’s Danail Milushev led all scorers with 20 points on a match-high 20 kills.

Bulgaria converted 48 percent of its attack attempts (59/122) while the U.S. Men converted 46 percent (61/132). Bulgaria out-blocked the United States 10-8 and had three aces while Team USA had none. The United States struggled with 23 service errors.

McCutcheon started Rooney and Touzinsky at outside hitter, Hoff and Thomas at middle blocker, Gardner at opposite, Hansen at setter and Lambourne at libero.

Eatherton started for Hoff in the second set and played the rest of the match. Brook Billings (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Brandon Taliaferro (San Clemente, Calif.) played as substitutes

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