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LONDON 2012 : MEN'S VOLLEYBALL

U.S. makes fast work of Serbia

Anderson and Priddy lead 25-17, 25-22, 25-11 victory that takes only 90 minutes.

July 30, 2012|K.C. Johnson
  • Jeff Roberson / Associated Press
Jeff Roberson / Associated Press (m7xnr2pd20120729104338/600 )

LONDON — Busy with training responsibilities for his Korean club team, Matthew Anderson didn't watch any of the U.S. men's volleyball matches from their galvanizing run to gold at the Beijing Olympics.

But last year, after a disappointing sixth-place finish at the FIVB World Cup, somebody popped in a DVD of the gold-medal match.

"It was pretty cool," Anderson said.

Expectations for a repeat are low, but the U.S. opened its defense in impressive fashion Sunday at Earls Court. Thanks in large part to Anderson's relentless attacking, the U.S. swept defending European champion Serbia, 25-17, 25-22, 25-11, in 90 minutes.

Anderson joked he was nervous he'd be nervous, but his 16 spikes and two kills suggested otherwise.

"I thought Matt played very similar to how he has played the last two years; and that is, you wouldn't really notice it was an Olympic debut," Coach Alan Knipe said.

"And that's maybe his best quality besides his skill set. There aren't a lot of peaks and valleys to his demeanor."

It's an approach abetted from listening to old standbys William Priddy, Clayton Stanley and Richard Lambourne, three of the five veterans from the 2008 squad.

"In training, things will happen and they'll say, 'Remember this. It's going to happen in a big-time match,' " Anderson said. "And you have to be able to come back from that."

The U.S. displayed impressive resiliency in the second set after Donald Suxho put his fingerprints all over a dominant first set. Trailing early, the U.S. didn't lead until 20-19 on a point featuring Priddy and Russell Holmes combining for a block that appeared to land out of bounds.

Priddy and Holmes followed with clean block kills and when Bojan Janic committed Serbia's fifth service error on set point, a test had been passed.

"We were able to chip away and not show a lot of panic," Knipe said. "I'm proud of the guys for that."

Priddy was everywhere, diving for a dig here, acing a third-set serve there.

"[He] was the driving force to us staying focused on the little things," Knipe said.

The U.S. hopes little things can turn to big things, and Germany is next on Tuesday in a stacked pool that also features top-ranked Brazil. The Germans beat the Americans in a taut five-set match at the World League finals in May.

Anderson, as is his nature, is undaunted.

"I think we have a chance to win the gold," Anderson said. "We're a good team. It just takes one match and you can move on. Hopefully, we can do that."

In other matches Sunday, Bulgaria swept Britain, Argentina swept Australia, Russia swept Germany, Italy beat Poland, 3-1, and gold-medal favorite Brazil swept Tunisia.

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kcjohnson@tribune.com

twitter.com/kcjhoop

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