Beijing, China, July 21, 2004 ĘC The Australian Volleyball men's team started its specific match preparation for the Athens Olympics, with its two matches in a 4 test series against the 8th ranked team in the world, Argentina.
In the first match that was as close as their last encounter, the opening match of the 2002 World Championships, the local team was just too strong for Australia, with each set being decided by narrow margins. The final scores were 3 - 1 (22 - 25, 23 - 25, 26 - 24, 25 - 27), according to reports received here.
Argentina started well and skipped to an 8 - 5 lead, and then extended the lead to 18 - 11 before David Ferguson came back to serve. His aggressive jump serving turned the set around as he served for 8 consecutive points. Consecutive stuff blocks by Dan Howard helped extend the run to a 20 - 18 lead. Unfortunately for the visitors,this was followed by some good serving by the Argentinean opposite, they regained the lead and closed out the set 25 - 22.
After losing the second set 25-23, the Australians fought back bravely in the third set with Australia keeping pace through superior blocking, taking a 19ĘC16 lead. The local team fought back but could not close the gap, Australia winning 26 - 24.
In the fourth set, Australia once took a 14 - 13 lead. But good serving by Argentina stole back the lead. Hardy late in the set killed a transition attack to level the scores at 24 - 24 but the visitors couldn't finish the job going down 25 - 27.
In the second match, the Australian team was beaten again 3 - 0 (23 - 25, 23
- 25, 23-25). Australia started more aggressively, leading in the first and second sets, but Argentina again proved to be tougher at the end of sets, taking the sets with the same scores 25-23. I
In the third set, Argentina raced away to a good lead as Australia trailed 11 - 16 at the 2nd technical timeout. However, Australia still showed some real self-confidence in their fight back as they clawed their way back into the set. Argentina held match point at 24 - 21, but the Aussies weren't done yet. An attack point and then a block by Howard brought Australia back to within a point, before Argentina finally won the final set, again 25 - 23.