Photo of Lee courtesy FIVB and USA Volleyball
Getting great play in the fourth set from some of its younger athletes, the U.S. Men’s Volleyball Team, including former 49ers David Lee and Paul Lotman, held off three set points to defeat Finland, 3-1 (18-25, 25-23, 25-21, 28-26) on Saturday in an FIVB World League match in Tampere, Finland.
The U.S. Men improved their record to 2-2 in Group C and they sit in second place as they return to the United States to play two pool play matches against Egypt (1-3) on June 18-19 in Concord, N.C.
Middle blocker David Lee once again led all players in blocks with six. He added five kills and an ace for 12 total points. Outside hitter Paul Lotman also scored 12 points on 12 kills (0.52 kill percentage).
The match looked to be going to a fifth set as Finland reached set point at 24-22. However Lotman came up big, scoring on two straight kills, the second on a Finland overpass, to fight off two set point opportunities and tie the score at 24-24. Finland took set point again at 25-24 with a kill that the official said was off a Team USA tip. The U.S. protested to no avail, and so came back with a Patak kill to tie the score at 25-25. The U.S. Men then reached match point on a Rooney pipe kill that was off Patak’s bump set from out of bounds.
Finland Head Coach Mauro Berruto called timeout and Finland responded with a kill for a 26-26 tie. But Patak was not finished, using a kill to give the U.S. match point. Patak then went back to serve and gave Finland a ball that it could only pass right back to the United States. Setter Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) gave the ball to Patak who emerged from the back row to send it down the line for the U.S. victory.
The U.S. Men out-blocked Finland 16-11. The teams were tied in aces with five apiece. Finland led in kills with 65 as compared with 51 for the United States. But Finland was hurt by 24 team errors that often came at the worst times while the U.S. committed only 14.
Report by USA Volleyball's B.J. Evans