Kyoto, Japan, November 19, 2013 - Japanese fans were pumped to support their home team at Kyoto Prefectural Gymnasium, as they hosted the USA to open 2013 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Grand Champions Cup. A strong USA squad ran into a speedbump in the third set, but managed to take the win from the home side, winning 3-1 (25-18, 25-17, 21-25, 25-20). " />
USA bring the block party to Kyoto, beating host team Japan
Leading the victorious USA in scoring was player of the match Matthew Anderson with 21 points. He was supported by middle blocker Maxwell Holt, whose 18 points including a remarkable 8 blocks. The USA outblocked Japan 17 to 7 in the match. For the home team, it was Tatsuya Fukuzawa leading the way with 12 points.
The USA got the block party going right out of the gate, with David Lee and Reid Priddy frustrating Kunihiro Shimizu on three consecutive points to go up 8–3. A powerful Jeffrey Menzel spike down center put the USA in total control at 17–8, and despite some excitement off the bench from Japan’s Yusuke ‘Gottsu’ Ishijima, the host side couldn’t get much rolling. Anderson pitched in two hard spikes to put his side ahead 21–12, and from there the captain Reid Priddy closed it out with a cross-court smash, 25–18, taking the first set.
The USA carried this momentum into the second set, posting 7 uninterrupted points until a Shimizu spike made it 7–1. The Kyoto fans lent their support with chants of ‘Gori! Gori!’ a reference to the southpaw’s famously long arms. This seemed to briefly energize the home team in the middle of the set, as Tatsuya Fukuzawa and Yuta Yoneyama found some daylight between the USA block to make it 15–8. But the USA lead proved insurmountable, as Holt helped close the set with a stunning block stuff on a flying Fukuzawa to make it 23–16, and then a hard kill to finish it 25–17, two sets zero.
To the delight of the home crowd, Japan did get out in front of the USA in the third set, sparked by an enthusiastic Kazuyoshi Yokota who delivered some smart play at the net, helping his team ahead 10–5. One of the highlights of the set came when Shigeru Kondoh posted a block on an attacking Priddy to make it 15–11, but Priddy - no stranger to the highlight reel himself - fired right back, unfazed, on the next point for a kill. Japan was fortunate late in the set, withstanding an offensive onslaught from Matt Anderson, whose four points brought the USA within two at 23–21. But Fukuzawa would shut him down on set point, with a block stuff to take the set 25–21 (two sets to one for the USA).
Fukuzawa put his side up 2–0 with an ace to start the fourth set, but Holt responded for the USA with more spectacular blocking, posting his sixth and seventh block stuffs consecutively to go ahead 4–2. He’d put his eight on a frustrated Gottsu to make it 13–9, but Koshikawa brought Japan back to within one with an ace and a spike, 17–16. But Micah Christenson’s third block of the match, on Gottsu, put the USA ahead 20–17, and from there they would close it out on an Anderson score, 25–20.