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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Stanley helps U.S. sweep Netherlands in volleyball

Advertiser News Services

ATHENS, Greece — As they streamed off the court yesterday afternoon, victorious in the Olympics for the first time since 1996, the U.S. men's volleyball team slapped hands wildly with the American flag-flashing legions in the stands.

USA's Ryan Millar (9) and Kevin Barnett (14) compete at the net with the Netherlands' Mike van de Goor (7) and Richard Schuil (6) during their match. The United States won, 26-14, 25-20, 25-18.

Associated Press

The celebration might have seemed too exuberant, given that the Americans had just swept the Netherlands, 26-24, 25-20, 25-18, in pool play in front of some 3,000 spectators at Peace and Friendship Stadium.

But this was a special occasion: The Americans, who lost to Italy Sunday and lost all five preliminary matches at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, won for the first time at the Olympics since 1996 in Atlanta.

Hawai'i's Clay Stanley was most responsible for the U.S. breakthrough. He scored 21 points on team highs of 15 kills, three blocks and three of the Americans' six aces.

"There is no game plan left when you get outserved," Netherlands coach Bert Goedkoop said.

When the Dutch led 23-19 in the first game, it was Stanley who powered a 7-1 U.S. rally. He had four points in the critical run, including a wicked jump-serve ace down the line and a pair of back-row, cross-court kills that blew through blockers and sent passers into desperate but fruitless dives.

Stanley was lethal, burying 54 percent of his spike attempts. The rest of the Americans kept the Dutch off-balance with pressure serves, a trio of blockers sliding to the outside, and a skilled three-man serve-receive formation that opened up the offense for Stanley.

"All the best teams have a solid offensive star," U.S. captain and setter Lloy Ball said, "and we're going to ride him (Stanley) when he's the one hitting, blocking and serving well."

"It was by far our best team effort since I've been on the national team," said middle blocker Ryan Millar, who scored six points. "Clay played great; Tom (Hoff) played great; Lloy set a great match. Our outside hitters were fantastic."

Dominican Republic topples U.S. women

Placed in a difficult pool, the United States appeared to have one easy foe on the preliminary schedule. Try telling that to the Dominican Republic

Milagros Cabral de la Cruz had the match-winning kill in the fifth set today as the Dominicans upset the Americans, 26-24, 22-25, 27-25, 23-25, 19-17.

Former University of Hawai'i All-American Heather Bown had 10 points, including eight kills, for the Americans, who dropped to 1-2.