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U.S. bounces back from opening loss, defeats Dutch in five sets

High-jumping Robert Horstink attacks

Rotterdam, the Netherlands, June 14, 2009 - Team USA exacted revenge on the Netherlands Sunday with a five-set victory following a straight-sets loss to the hosts a day earlier.

USA twice took a one-set advantage sets but the Dutch fought back with the support of more than 3,000 home supporters. The Americans finally walked away with a 16-25, 32-30, 17-25, 25-19, 6-15 win.

Despite the loss, the Netherlands nevertheless top Pool A.

The American team started the match sharply, winning the first four points. Dutch head coach Peter Blangé tried to halt the onslaught by calling a timeout. However, not much changed and he called another timeout at 6-11. The Orange team had a hard time scoring because the American block and defense had adjusted its play to the Dutch based on the information it gleaned from their match a day earlier.

Blangé substituted his setter Yannick van Harskamp for Roland Rademaker at 7-13. At the second technical timeout the Americans led 8-16. The home team had heaps of problems with receiving the well-placed and powerful services of the United States. The set ended with a killing block from Sean Rooney (16-25).

The Dutch started the second set with greater concentration and aggression. Dutch captain Jeroen Trommel left the court in the first set to make way for Jeroen Rauwerdink who stayed on the court in the second set and was key to the Dutch revival. His spikes and serves made his team believe in themselves again. Although Rooney and Evan Patak kept scoring, the Dutch enjoyed a 16-14 advantage at the second technical timeout. On the strength of Patak's serves, the United States fought back to make it 21-22. A spike from Rauwerdink gave the Netherlands its first set point, 24-23. The Americans prevented the Dutch from winning that point but Matthew Anderson scored to give the visitors two set points of their own. At 31-30 the Orange team had its sixth set point, which Rauwerdink received and then won to take the set 32-30.

In the third set the Dutch struggled to recover their energy after expending so much of it in the previous frame. The Olympic Champions had an easy start (2-6) and maintained the difference. Holland did not have an answer to the attacks of Anderson and the gap had increased by the second technical timeout to 10-16 despite attacks from left-handed opposite Niels Klapwijk, who was on as a replacement for Kay van Dijk. Blangé's team could not find a way back in this set despite several changes in the side. A blocking point and a spike from middle-blocker Andrew Hein finished the set in favor of the United States, 17-25.

The roles were reversed in the next set with the Orange team on the verge of defeat. The Dutch started freshly with an wing-spiker Horstink scoring with ease to make it 8-4. Captain Trommel was back on the court again and he added to the score as well. Hein and Rooney added points for the U.S., though, and the score at the second technical timeout was 16-14. The Americans then drew level at 16-16. This woke the Dutch up and they geared it up on the service game of Klapwijk to take a 22-18 lead. Trommel scored on the first set-point to wrap it up at 25-19.

The final set took the same path as the first and third sets. Team USA made their presence felt early with the attacks of Sean Rooney. The Dutch players made too many mistakes in this set to have a chance of winning. The U.S. kept its concentration and scored on their first match-point, 6-15.

Dutch setter Yannick van Harskamp was disappointed after the match. "We kept fighting but we could not succeed. They played at a higher level than us."

His teammate Wytze Kooistra added that it is a tough loss to swallow but admitted the visitors were the better team on the day. "The USA played more consistently and deserved to win. Their service power especially made the difference," he said.

American captain David Lee was proud of his team. "We reacted very well after yesterday's match. Today it was a real fight. We have gained a lot of experience playing against a good team and in a great atmosphere."

American setter Donald Suxho said his team played with more passion. "Yesterday, we did not expect to lose with 3-0. We changed our tactics and played with more aggression."

  

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