Tokyo, Japan, December 1, 2007: The United States stayed on course for Beijing with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Argentina in the first match of the day at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
The NORCECA champions breezed past the South American vice champions 25-16, 25-19, 25-18 to improve their World Cup win-loss record to 8-2 ahead of their Sunday showdown with Russia.
Ranked fifth in the world, the Americans were too fast, strong and experienced for the ninth-ranked Argentines, who dropped to 5-5.
The United States reached the first TTO ahead 8-6. Gardner was hit and miss with his right-wing attacks in the early stages, and Salmon was blocked by Stepanenko after a fiery serve from Garcia had thrown the Americans off balance.
However, good work at the net by Lee to deny Aschemacher, and a crunching Millar block on Quiroga suggested the Argentines would be in for a hard time on attack.
Garcia did his best to keep Argentina close, scoring three quick points with his fluid spiking on the left and a soaring attack from the back court which was too hot for the American defence.
USA, however, had the edge all round in attack, as Lee scored at the net and Salmon out wide. With a five-point advantage at the first TTO, 16-11, the Americans had already taken a grip on the match.
Priddy blazed one down the middle from a back court attack for 17-12, and then blocked Milinkovic for 18-12, forcing an Argentine TO.
Millar capitalised on a scrappy Argentine attack to punch an easy winner at the net, and Priddy soared on the left to spike across court for 20-12. Argentina called a second TO.
Salmon resumed with a delicately placed service ace past a disintegrating Argentine defence, and Priddy scored easily again on the left for 23-14. It was too easy for the Americans, while the Argentines had to work and think for every attack point. Lee finished it at the net, 25-16.
There were signs of an Argentine revival in the second set as Garcia continued to trouble the American block and Stepanenko worked hard at the net, but the Americans turned it round and led 8-6 at the first TTO. Millar blocked Milinkovic and Salmon finished off a dizzying rally with a back court swoop as the Americans regained their rhythm.
Trailing 10-8, a disgruntled Milinkovic was replaced by Chavez, and Argentine luck seemed to be in when a wild Quiroga serve struck Gardner on the base line for 10-10. A Chavez block on Salmon had Argentine coach Uriarte punching the air on the sidelines, and USA needed a TO down 12-11.
At 14-14, Uriarte made his second substitution, sending in Scholtis for Quiroga.
Leading 16-15 at the second TTO, USA pushed on with a Ball block on Scholtis and a typically athletic spike from Priddy. When Gardner blocked Garcia for 21-17, Argentina needed a TO to try and halt the American acceleration.
There was no escape, though, as Salmon soared and scored from the back court for 23-18 and Priddy chalked up an unlikely ace with a dipping serve that caught the Argentine defence napping. Lee finished it 25-19 for 2-0.
The start of the third set was marked by a series of service errors, enabling USA to lead 8-5. Argentina could not close the gap, and called a TO at 11-8.
The American block, with seven points from two sets, remained strong, frustrating any efforts Argentina made to come back. On their part, though, the Argentines did not help themselves with a series of service errors as a mistake-riddled third set stumbled along.
Priddy lit up the gym with a thundering spike from the back court, and Chavez replied with a crashing spike on the right to give the Argentine fans something to cheer.
Gardner brought up the second TTO at 16-13 USA with a powerful spike on the right, and poor Argentine reception helped the Americans on their way.
The Argentine attack broke down completely, leaving coach Uriarte with no option but to take them off for a TO down 20-15.
In contrast, the Americans hit hard on the counter, keeping Argentina under pressure in all phases of the game.
The end was quick, 25-18.