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Local Olympians: Men's volleyball clinches top seed with win over Tunisia

Saugus' David Smith scores eight points to help U.S.

Posted: August 6, 2012 3:22 p.m.
Updated: August 6, 2012 3:22 p.m.

United States player and Saugus High graduate David Smith, left, reaches for the ball as Tunisia's Ahmed Kadhi defends during Monday's match on Monday in London.

 

LONDON (AP) — David McKienzie scored 17 points and the defending champion U.S. men's volleyball team clinched a top tournament seed at the London Olympics on Monday with a win over Tunisia.

Sean Rooney added 12 points in the 25-15, 25-19, 25-19 win, which set up a quarterfinal against Italy on Wednesday. Tunisia finished the competition at Earls Court without a win.

U.S. middle blocker and Saugus High graduate David Smith saw the most court time he's seen so far in the Olympics. He finished with eight points, including two aces and a team-high 10 blocks.

The United States was coming off a five-set loss to Russia, which ended an 11-match winning streak in Olympic play, dating to the Americans' undefeated march to the gold medal in the Beijing Games.

The Americans' preliminary round was highlighted by a four-set victory over top-ranked Brazil, a rematch of the Beijing final.

The fifth-ranked U.S. men weren't considered among the medal favorites at the London Games, but they claimed silver in the recent World League tournament before opening the Olympics with dominant straight-set victories over Serbia and Germany.

Against No. 20 Tunisia, coach Alan Knipe rested veterans Clay Stanley, Reid Priddy and David Lee. The team didn't need them, claiming the first set on Matt Anderson's spike and cruising the rest of the way. David Smith spiked for match point.

"We have some guys that haven't played much that are extremely talented volleyball players. On one side they're fresh so you knew they were going to be full of energy and really excited about getting their opportunity," Knipe said. "And on the other side of that we got some guys who have played a lot of sets.

"So we have important matches hopefully coming up. We wanted to manage both and I think we accomplished that tonight."

Stanley, a three-time Olympian who was named MVP of the Beijing Games, appreciated the break before the knockout round.

"It's nice when you have 12 guys who can all get the job done," he said.

The United States landed in a difficult pool in London with Brazil, Russia, Serbia, Germany and Tunisia. The top four teams, based on a point system, advance to play in the quarterfinals.

The top finishers in each pool face the fourth-place finishers in the opposite pool, while the other matches are determined by drawing lots.

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