LONDON — We interrupt the U.S. men’s volleyball medal quest, which continued Tuesday at Earls Court with a straight-sets victory over Germany, for some Philosophy 101.
“The temptation is to go big picture when you need to stay on the task at hand,” three-time Olympian Reid Priddy said. “When you go to the Olympic Games, you learn the rhythm and cadence of this tournament and how important it is to go one play, one point, one opponent at a time.”
Such coach-speak from players usually makes coaches swoon, but U.S. leader Alan Knipe wouldn’t even take credit for any ownership following the tidy 25-23, 25-16, 25-20 victory in 89 minutes.
“That’s a mantra that’s been going on from before I was coaching the team,” said Knipe, who took over in 2009 when Hugh McCutcheon switched to the U.S. women’s national team. “It’s about managing the moments and staying in the present. It’s easy to talk about it and very cliche, but you’re seeing it right now.
“We’ve got a couple key veterans who are real good at keeping us in the moment and making sure guys on the court aren’t wandering and worrying about things they shouldn’t. We’re getting really good veteran leadership from Clay [Stanley] and Reid.”
Their play hasn’t been bad, either. Stanley posted a team-high 13 spikes and added two aces, both of which came to wake the U.S. from a 4-0 deficit in the first set that forced Knipe to burn an early timeout.
“My comment to them was we didn’t need to get it all back in one serve,” Knipe said. “But then Clay went back and did that.”
Priddy added his typical all-around effort with seven spikes, four digs and two aces. For the second straight match, Donald Suxho made the offense go with precise passing. And Russell Holmes and David Lee combined for seven kill blocks as Knipe praised the blocking defense immediately in his post-match comments for the second straight time.
Team USA hasn’t lost a set and plays Brazil, ranked No. 1 in the world, on Thursday. The Brazilians prevailed in four sets at their last meeting in November 2011 at the World Cup.
“We’re in this really difficult pool and it’s easy to start thinking ahead,” Priddy said.
But everyone around Team USA knows that won’t happen.
In other Group B matches Tuesday, Serbia beat Tunisia, 3-1, and Brazil beat Russia, 3-0; in Group A, Bulgaria beat Poland, 3-1; Italy beat Argentina, 3-1; and Australia beat Britain, 3-0.