Long Beach, USA, July 1, 2011 – The United States rallied after a fourth-set comeback by Puerto Rico and prevailed 3-2 (25-27, 25-22, 25-12, 25-27, 15-8) in an FIVB World League match on Friday at the Walter Pyramid.
Thanks to losses by Bulgaria and Serbia on Friday, the U.S. is now one win away from a berth in the World League Final Round. The U.S. and Puerto Rico will play again on Saturday at the Pyramid.
After falling behind 2-1, Puerto Rico came back to win the fourth set. But the U.S. took a 6-1 lead in the tiebreaker and Puerto Rico couldn’t rally.
The United States’ Reid Priddy led all scorers with 21 points on 19 kills and two blocks. Clay Stanley added 17 points on 11 kills, four blocks and two aces.
Juan Figueroa led Puerto Rico with 18 points on 18 kills. Jose Rivera added 12 points.
The U.S. out-blocked Puerto Rico 20-3, led by Ryan Millar with six and David Lee with five. The U.S. out-attacked Puerto Rico 82-67 and had four aces to Puerto Rico’s two.
Puerto Rico opened the first set strong while the U.S. looked shaky. Soto scored with two kills for Puerto Rico as it built a 6-2 lead, causing the U.S. to call timeout. Priddy scored on a back-row attack coming out of the break, but then the U.S. lost the serve on an error. Priddy came back with another kill followed by a Millar ace to pull the U.S. to within two at 7-5, but a block by Puerto Rico’s Enrique Escalante gave his team the lead at the first technical timeout. After the break, the U.S. scored on two blocks from Lee and a kill by Priddy to pull to within one at 8-9 and Puerto Rico called timeout. A kill from Angel Perez gave Puerto Rico a 16-13 lead at the second TTO. Another U.S. hitting error after the break caused Knipe to call timeout for the U.S. The strategy worked as Puerto Rico’s next serve went out of bounds. But Puerto Rico still held a four-point lead at 21-17 when the U.S. scored on straight kills from Stanley and Anderson to pull to within two. With Puerto Rico leading 23-21, the United States scored on a Stanley kill and Priddy block to tie the score and Puerto Rico called timeout. Soto came back with a kill to give Puerto Rico setpoint, but Lee answered with a block. A kill by Jose Rivera gave Puerto Rico its second setpoint, but Anderson answered with a block. Finally, Angel Perez used a setter dump to give Puerto Rico its third set point and Roberto Muniz ended the set with a block. Priddy led the U.S. with six points on four kills and two blocks. Soto had five points on five kills.
The teams traded points to open the second set. With the score tied 7-7, Muniz connected on an attack to give Puerto Rico the lead at the first TTO. Puerto Rico increased its lead to 9-7 on a tip from Figueroa. Lee answered with a tip and a block to tie the score at 9-9. With the score 14-14, an attack by Rivera and a U.S. net violation gave Puerto Rico a 16-14 lead at the second TTO. A Rivera kill down the left side put Puerto Rico ahead by four at 19-15 and they were still three points ahead at 21-18 when the U.S. scored on blocks by Priddy and Stanley to pull to within one. Cardona called timeout and the U.S. had a service error. But the U.S. scored the next three points on quick kills from Millar and a Puerto Rico hitting error to lead 23-22. Puerto Rico called timeout, but Priddy came back with a kill and Puerto Rico hit the ball out to give the U.S. the set. Stanley scored six points for the U.S. in the set. Figueroa had five for Puerto Rico.
The U.S. momentum carried into the third set and they went 5-2 up led by Millar with a kill and two straight blocks. Puerto Rico called timeout, but Paul Lotman, who started the set for Anderson, answered with an ace. A Puerto Rico hitting error gave the United States a 7-2 lead before Perez won a joust to score for Puerto Rico. But another Millar attack gave the U.S. an 8-3 lead at the TTO. A Puerto Rico double-contact call increased the U.S. lead to 9-3 and they continued to lead by six at 12-6 when Rivera scored with a kill off the block. Two straight U.S. blocks had Puerto Rico calling timeout at 7-14 and the U.S. led by eight at the second TTO. Millar had two straight blocks coming out of the break to increase the U.S. lead. Lotman had two tips and a kill as the U.S. went on to win the set 25-12. The U.S. had six blocks in the set while Puerto Rico had none.
Puerto Rico replaced Soto with Steven Morales in the fourth set and the new opposite had three kills as the teams played to a 6-6 tie. Lotman scored for the U.S. on a kill, and a Puerto Rico hitting error gave the U.S. an 8-6 lead at the first TTO. The U.S. held a three-point lead at 13-10 when Rivera scored on two straight kills and Muniz tied it on a block. The U.S. had a 16-14 lead at the second TTO and were four points ahead at 20-16 when Puerto Rico called timeout again. A Muniz kill followed by two straight U.S. hitting errors pulled Puerto Rico to within one at 20-19 and it was the United States’ turn to call timeout. Puerto Rico’ s next attack went into the net and the U.S. took a two-point lead on Russell Holmes’ block. Puerto Rico tied it again on a U.S. serving error and two straight kills from Figueroa. Puerto Rico reached setpoint first at 24-23 when the U.S. sent a Morales attack out of bounds. The U.S. fought off one more setpoint before Puerto Rico took a 26-25 lead on a Figueroa kill and then won the set when a U.S. attack went long. Morales had seven points for Puerto Rico and Figueroa added six.
The U.S. took a 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker, scoring on a kill and block by Millar and a Puerto Rico hitting error. Puerto Rico called timeout and scored on a Muniz strike. But the U.S. came back with a Priddy block and kills by Millar and Stanley to lead 6-1 as Cardona called timeout again. The U.S. lead increased to 7-1 before Puerto Rico scored on an attack. Rivera took the serve and the U.S. passed his first serve out of bounds and his second fell for an ace to pull Puerto Rico to within three at 7-4. Knipe called timeout. A U.S. tip gave them an 8-4 lead as the teams changed sides. The teams traded kills but the U.S. stretched its lead and reached matchpoint at 14-8 on Stanley’s attack. Priddy’s back-row strike then won the match for the U.S.