Aug. 12, 2005
By: Debbie Darrah - IZMIR, Turkey -The USA men's volleyball team nearly overcame a 2-0 set deficit, but the rally fell short as the Americans fell to France, 25-14, 25-23, 25-27, 23-25, 15-13, in the second match of pool play at the Summer World University Games.
"We started slow, but the great thing about volleyball is that time doesn't run out," said USA head coach Joe Wortmann (Stockton, Calif.), who also serves as the head coach at the University of the Pacific. "We made some corrections, and we played well. We played with guts and fire and put ourselves in all of the last four games. Unfortunately we came out on top in only two of those games."
France opened the first set by scoring the first two points. It never lost the lead and held a 15-13 advantage before going on a 10-1 scoring run to end the frame.
France again posted a 2-0 lead in the second set and eventually built its largest lead at 15-8. The Americans then went on a six-point run, which included three aces by Andy Hein (Carol Stream, Ill./Pepperdine), to get within 15-14. USA eventually tied the score at 16 on a Robert Tarr (Rockledge, Fla./Long Beach State) kill through the block. The Americans also tied the score at 18 and 20 before France scored four consecutive points. USA fought off three set points before a service error ended the set and gave the French a 2-0 lead.
The French appeared in position to win the match in three sets before USA rallied, fighting off three match points to win the third set. France took its first lead of the set at 8-7 and built its biggest lead at 15-11. USA got within a point four times - 18-17, 19-18, 20-19 and 23-22 -- before France was serving for the match at 24-22 following a questionable touch call on USA. Back-to-back USA kills evened the score, but a serve into the net put France at match point for the third time. Hein posted a block and Tarr followed with consecutive kills to give USA the win and force a fourth set.
USA took its first lead of the fourth set at 5-4, but the advantage was short lived as France tallied four straight points to build what would be its biggest lead of the closely contested set. The French maintained a narrow 17-16 lead when a kill by Tarr tied the score and marked the start of a three-point run by USA. France tied the score at 19 and again at 22 before a Tarr kill put USA up, 23-22. Setter Tyler Hildebrand (Mesa, Ariz./Long Beach State) put USA at set point with a dump. A service error cut the lead to one before Tarr put down one of his match-high 25 kills to send the match to a fifth game.
"We were coming out on top, because we were targeting our serve much better again, and some guys came through with some big swings," Wortmann said. "On the other hand, France has a lot of firepower, and to their credit, they did not back down and played very well."
France built a 9-5 advantage in the final game, but USA fought back and tied the score at 10. The teams then exchanged points until back-to-back kills gave France a 14-12 edge. Tarr fought off one match point with a kill before France setter Ferrand Carletti dumped the ball for the match-clinching point.
In addition to kills, Tarr led USA with 27 points. Hein also posted double figures in kills and points with 10 and 17, respectively.
"France knows Andy Hein," Wortmann said. "They have seen him before and know he is the guy. They did a marvelous job of neutralizing him, and that was a huge difference in the match."
Nils Nielsen (Fallbrook, Calif./Cal State Northridge) came off the bench to post 11 points, and Jimmy Pelzel added 10 points.
Andy Cess took high-point honors for France with 17.
"This was the kind of match that could have gone on and on and still be close," Wortmann said. "We have to let it go and learn from it. We need to jump on teams, because it is harder to climb back.
"That is what we are looking for tomorrow: jump out early, be more efficient and try and control the match from a different vantage point."
USA continues pool play Saturday against China, which is coming off a three-set loss to Slovakia. First serve is at 3 p.m. at Gursel Aksel Sports Hall.
"China is a completely different team," Wortmann said. "A faster tempo and a lot of off-speed. They try to keep the ball in play and hope for a mistake.
"We watched them play, and we have some good ideas for who to serve on their team. Having watched them play is a big key. If they can't pass very well, it is difficult for them because they are shorter and don't have the firepower. So hopefully we can set up a good block and block some balls."