BEIJING, 10 August - The USA recovered from a Venezuelan surge to win a five-set thriller (25-18, 25-18, 22-25, 21-25, 15-10) at Capital Gymnasium on Sunday.
David LEE (USA) started off strong with quick hits and blocks. The USA side dictated the tempo of the match as they put up a strong block on the Venezuelan attackers. It was a steady start for Lloy BALL (USA) as he led the Americans in blocking as well as setting up his teammates on the kill. Clayton STANLEY (USA) got into the action with his unstoppable kills on the right side. The first set went to the USA 25-18.
The USA continued strongly in the second set. Ernardo GOMEZ (VEN) was Venezuela's offensive option as he successfully attacked the USA triple block. STANLEY made monstrous spikes on the right side as the USA took the lead 22-14. They then took the second set 25-18 from a Lloy BALL block.
Venezuela could not keep up with the quick attacks of the USA in the beginning of the third set until Luis DIAZ (VEN), Ernardo GOMEZ (VEN) and Ivan MARQUEZ (VEN) launched an attacking spree of their own. The Venezuelan side saw gaps around the court and capitalised on the opportunity. USA setter BALL was replaced by Kevin HANSEN. DIAZ scored crucial points on the attack and block for Venezuela as they took the third set 25-22.
Venezuela kept their momentum in the fourth set with a set of blocks against the power-hitting Americans. The set was close as Venezuela and the USA exchanged powerful attacks on both sides of the court.
Venezuela took a 21-19 lead through a strong Carlos LUNA (VEN) outside attack before a spectacular block gave them the set 25-21 and forced a tiebreaker.
Lloy BALL (USA) returned in the fifth set to organise the American offence. The USA tightened their defence and pulled away to win the match 15-10. STANLEY scored the last point.
Assistant coach Ronald LARSEN (USA) called in the plays for the USA squad in lieu of head coach Hugh McCUTCHEON (NZL).