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Local Olympians: David Smith, men's volleyball open Olympics with sweep

U.S. team beats Serbia 3-0

Posted: July 29, 2012 10:55 a.m.
Updated: July 29, 2012 10:55 a.m.

United States player Richard Lambourne, left, and teammate Donald Suxho celebrate scoring a point against Serbia during a men's preliminary volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday in London.

 

LONDON (AP) — Matt Anderson scored 18 points and the defending gold medal-winning U.S. men's volleyballteam opened play at the London Games with a sweep of Serbia on Sunday.

Captain Clay Stanley added 13 points in the 25-17, 25-22, 25-21 victory at Earls Court.

Saugus High graduate David Smith didn't accumulate any statistics in the match.

The U.S. team was not considered among the favorites going into the Olympics, despite a silver-medal finish in the recent FIVB World League tournament. But they appeared strong and confident in the dominating performance over the Serbians.

Marko Podrascanin had 13 points, including two aces, for Serbia.

Four years ago, the United States won the gold medal in Beijing, going undefeated and upsetting favorite Brazil in four sets in a thrilling final. That team was coached by Hugh McCutcheon.

The U.S. run in Beijing was emotional after McCutcheon's father-in-law was stabbed to death at a popular Chinese tourist attraction just before the opening ceremony. The coach left the team for several matches to be with his family.

McCutcheon shifted over to the U.S. women's team following Beijing, and Alan Knipe took a leave of absence as head coach of Long Beach State to coach the men for London.

The United States is ranked No. 5 by volleyball's international governing body. The team is in a difficult pool in London, joining top-ranked Brazil, perennial powerhouse Russia, Serbia, Germany and Tunisia. The other pool includes Italy, Poland, Argentina, Bulgaria, Australia and host Britain.

Serbia, which won the gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Games, finished fifth in Beijing.

The United States jumped out to an 18-7 lead in the first set and the public address announcer at Earls Court proclaimed it an "absolute mauling." David Lee spiked for set point.

But Serbia rebounded, going up 6-2 early in the second set. The United States caught up, and while the Serbians held the Americans off for three sets points, a return error capped it.

David Suxho's ace made it 15-7 in the third and the United States cruised the rest of the way — prompting chants of "U.S.A!" from the crowd.

Since volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1964, the U.S. men have won three gold medals, at the Los Angeles Games in 1984, the Seoul Games in 1988 and in Beijing. The men won the bronze in 1992.

In early matches on Sunday, Bulgaria swept Great Britain, 25-18, 25-20, 26-24. Russia also defeated Germany in straight sets, 31-29, 25-18, 25-17.

Australia, coached by Jon Uriarte, lost to Argentina in straight sets (25-21, 25-22 25-20). Son Nicolas Uriarte is a setter on the Argentinian team.

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