Priddy rates American men stronger than four years ago
London, Great Britain, July 28, 2012 – Defending Olympic champions USA are even a stronger team than the one that claimed the gold medal four years ago in Beijing, according to one of the veteran players of the squad.
Reid Priddy, who is taking part in his third Olympics, seems to be pretty confident of the offensive firepower of this edition of the American squad.
Talking after a scrimmage game against Argentina in preparation for the start of the men’s competition on Sunday, Priddy was asked to compare the two teams.
“This squad is stronger than the victory team at Beijing,” the 1.93 meters tall outside hitter said. “Four years ago we were a very stable group but we had to grind out some of the victories.”
“This time we have more firepower from the attacking players and the service line,” he added. “We have more peaks and valleys this time but the peaks are much higher.”
The United States earned the right to return to defend its men’s volleyball title with a 28-26, 25-18, 25-20 gold-medal victory over Canada during the NORCECA Men’s Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament in Long Beach, California last May. Clayton Stanley turned in a USA-high 15 points while Priddy contributed 12 points.
The USA, ranked sixth in the latest FIVB World ranking compared to Canada’s No. 18 ranking, has now qualified for each of the last four Olympic Games through the NORCECA Men’s Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament. However, the 2012 event marks the first time the Americans have qualified on USA soil as a sell-out crowd watched the gold-medal match.
Since volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1964, the United States team have won three Olympic gold medals (Los Angeles in 1984, Seoul in 1988 and in Beijing). They also took the bronze in Barcelona in 1992.
Beijing’s MVP Stanley, who led USA team in scoring in seven of the eight matches in the 2008 Games, joins Priddy as a three-time Olympian.
Three other players from that team were also included in the roster. They are, middle blocker David Lee, outside hitter Sean Rooney and libero Rich Lambourne. Another player with Olympic experience is setter Donald Suxho, who competed in Athens 2004 but was absent in Beijing.
USA team, who finished second in this year’s FIVB World League, were crowned in the men’s premier annual event of FIVB before grabbing the Olympic gold in 2008. The team went undefeated, upsetting top-ranked Brazil in the final match under Coach Hugh McCutcheon.
The Americans will open the London Games against Serbia on Sunday.
“It's an interesting and very talented team,” Lambourne said about the first opponent here. “They play a high level of volleyball. They're an all-round team. They are a very challenging team to play against.”
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