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Anderson is the star and best scorer in Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan, December 2, 2011 - The USA entered the final round of the 2011 FIVB Men’s World Cup with a 4-4 record, and on Friday managed to pick up their fifth win over a young Argentina squad at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, roaring back with great blocking after dropping a close first set to win 3-2 (27-29, 25-14, 25-17, 20-25, 15-13). Five USA players reached double-digits in scoring, with Matthew Anderson leading the way with 25. Evan Patek and Russell Holmes helped their team to a 13-7 blocking advantage, with five and four block stuffs respectively. Leading the way for Argentina was their star Facundo Conte with 18, followed by Federico Pereyra with 17.

Argentina’s Conte started off well in the first, edging his side ahead with an ace, but the USA bounced back with a Holmes block to jump ahead 7-4. A pair of Pereyra spikes brought Argentina even at 19-19, until a Holmes strike appeared to put the North Americans in command 24-22. But Pereyra performed to perfection from that point, fighting off two USA set points with a spike and an ace (his second) that painted the baseline. He then pitched in two more spikes and a picture perfect block on Patek to take the set, 29-27.

Anderson helped the USA rebound in style to start the second, kicking off an 8-2 run with his second ace of the match. Sean Rooney kept kept them rolling with three impressive attacks, and Holmes’ third block – this time on Pereyra – put them way up 17-8. Anderson’s third ace gave put the side well in control 23-14, and they’d close it from there on an errant Pereyra spike that sailed wide, making it 24-14, one set a piece.

The third set again saw the USA start fast, with Holmes putting his fourth block on Maximiliano Gauna and following with a punch to the back of Argentina’s defense to make it 8-2. Patek, the other USA defensive stalwart subsequently made it 16-7 with his fifth block of the match, on an attacking Conte. Argentina mustered a small five-one run with Cristian Poglajen scoring three to help make it 19-14, but Rooney would eventually close it out on a soft tip, 25-17, two sets to one for the USA.

But mistakes arose for the USA to start the fourth, with three serves going astray to let Argentina edge out 8-7. It stayed close until 13 when Poglajen helped put Argentina ahead at 16-13. They would hold that cushion until a Conte spike gave them set point at 24-20, and an Anderson spike long gave it to Argentina on the next point, sending the match to a tie-breaks.

Millar put the USA ahead by two in the fifth with a wonderful block on an attacking Pereyra, but Argentina tied moments later at 9-9. It was tight down the stretch, but spikes by Anderson and Rooney would give them an edge, and Holmes stepped in to close with a score, 15-13 for the USA, giving them the match 3-2.

Press Conference:

Argentina coach Javier Weber: My compliments to the USA team and to their coach. I think Argentina played very well in the first set. But after this I am a little disappointed because my team lost a great opportunity against a great team; [to build] a strong mentality. They played a good fourth set, and I hope [we can carry that] into our next match tomorrow.

Argentina captain Rodrigo Quiroga: I want to compliment the USA team for their victory. Today Argentina played two games: we played good in the first, fourth, and fifth sets, but were were completely out of it in the second and third sets. I don’t know why. If we played the whole match as we played sets one and four it would be better. I think today we played one of the most important teams in the world, the last Olympic Champions. I’m really proud to be in this situation, but yes, I’m also sad we lost. We have to think about the next two matches and try to win those.

On sets two and three, where they lost badly: I think the second and third sets started badly, down 8-2 or 8-1, and the reason for this was that they pressed us very well with their serve. If you start six or seven points down it’s very difficult to go up after that.

USA coach Alan Knipe: Well I thank coach Weber for his comments. It was a very good match as we thought. We have tremendous respect for Argentina, and the way they play, the way they’re trained — they showed it in the first game. I thought we had an opportunity to close the opening set but they put pressured us and got it. Our guys showed composure bouncing back and get the next two. Argentina does things with a speedy offense that is different than some other opponents. Evan Patek did well in his blocking assignments today. As Reid [Priddy] said, we were better today sticking to blocking and defense. Brian Thornton continued to run a highly efficient offense. We played some guys who haven’t played much, and now we prepare for Cuba.

On Clayton Stanley who sat out today: It’s been long tournamentClay has taken many swings, we though best for our team to get soem fresh legs on court, to play vs good team against some players who have not played. we’ll go back and look to see what’s best for us tomorrow.

On their rivalry with Cuba, and what players we’ll see tomorrow: We expect it to be a tough match with Cuba for sure, as they had some wins against very good teams so far. I think rivalry, as you call it, if you want to call it that, it comes down to the many important matches the two teams have played over the years. When you play a team so many times in history, in a sense you can call it a rivalry, sure. As far as what team you’ll see, I think everybody who is no longer in the running for [Olympic] qualification has to do what’s best for their team to try to win, and give players opportunities as well. We’ll go back and bring back what we think is our best opportunity to win.

USA captain Reid Priddy: I thought it was a good match. Argentina plays very quick and athletic. I thought was great to see our team play w good blocking and fdef vs fast offense. good to see evan play well of course matt good production. I thought it was a good team victory.

On facing Cuba tomorrow: I think it’s a great opportunity to play them, to get more familiar with the things they do well and not so well. So I think with them being in our zone and both team seemingly out of qualification it could come down to us in NORCECA, but who knows — maybe they can win out and qualify here. It’s a great opportunity for us. The more times you see an opportunity, the better you know them. Obviously we’ll enter the match tomorrow 100 percent focused.

USA player Matthew Anderson: As Reid [Priddy] said I thought it was a good match. Argentina played very well in every sense. But we served well, keeping pressure and keeping our serves in. Brian Thornton did good job of setting, as we have five players in double digits. It didn’t allow them to focus in on one player. I think all around we played really well on a team.

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