Reggio Calabria, Italy, September 25, 2010 - Olympic champions USA came back from two sets behind to clinch a five-set thriller against Mexico 22-25, 19-25, 25-18, 25-22, 15-11 after 118 minutes of exciting action at the PalaCalafiore. The Mexican opposite spiker Gerardo Contreras was the star of the first half with his unstoppable hits before USA’s giant star Clayton Stanley took over and led USA to three successive sets. Both players scored 22 points and finished as match top scorers.
Mexico struggled at the start to cope with the strong spikes of the Americans who led 8-7 at the first technical timeout (FTT) thanks in no small part to the skilful combination play between setter Kevin Hansen and opposite spiker Stanley. Mexico then began to play better with Contreras penetrating the USA block on a number of occasions and scoring several crucial points. USA led 16-14 at the second technical timeout (STT) but Mexico responded again and drew level at 22-22 after a string of hits from Carlos Guerra. Contreras then scored a critical point at 23-22 before Mexico clinched the opening set 25-22.
Mexico continued in the ascendancy at the start of the second set with the impenetrable block of Tomas Aguilera and Samuel Cordova helping them into an 8-5 lead at the FTT. USA came back and drew level at 14-14 with Stanley again scoring regularly and Sean Rooney providing good support. But Mexico regained their rhythm through the brilliance of setter Pedro Rangel, who led his team with all the right combinations at the net. USA were then guilty of making frequent mistakes in reception and digging, allowing the Mexicans to win the second set 25-19.
USA used their renowned spike service to upset the Mexicans’ receiving and came from three points behind to lead 8-7 at the FTT in the third set, a lead that was extended to 16-12 by the STT thanks once more to Stanley’s spiking and serving. The fitness levels of the Mexicans then dropped, allowing USA to dominate the net action and forcing the Mexican coach to rest star men Contreras and Rangel with USA leading 22-15 before comfortably taking out the set.
USA deployed a different strategy at the start of the fourth set, mounting quick attacks through the centre, especially Russell Holmes, and they moved 8-5 ahead at the FTT. Mexico used the same weapon and Aguilera scored two points from quick combinations allowing them to draw level at 12-12. The set became very tight at 16-16 before Stanley and Rooney again asserted themselves to give USA the set and take the match into the tiebreak where Stanley again made the difference. He served frequent aces and sent sharp hits to enable the Americans to turn around 8-7 in front. USA then increased their lead to 12-9 before finishing the set 15-11 to win an exciting marathon.