The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team showed off their talent in July by beating Puerto Rico and qualifying for the FIVB World League Final Round—and they did it all in their own backyard.
The U.S. was able to celebrate their World League victory against Puerto Rico on their home turf, an unusual honor for the team as most World League games are played abroad. The game was held at the Long Beach State’s Walter Pyramid, where fans filled its 4,000 seats to support their favorite players.
The stakes were high for both teams, as only one could go on to the Final Round in Poland. Though the U.S. started out strong in the first set, there were some close calls in the second and third sets when Puerto Rico stepped up its game. Puerto Rico led 6-0 in the second set until the U.S. caught up, first tying with Puerto Rico and then beating them 25-22. The two teams were tied through much of the third set until the U.S. came back with a vengeance and teammates Clay Stanley, David Lee and Scott Kouzinsky scored the winning points. The U.S. scored 25-13, 25-22, 25-19, ending the round with a triumphant sweep of their opponents.
This win was the U.S. team’s ticket to advance to the Final Round, which was held in Gdansk-Sopot, Poland in July. The U.S., along with Poland and the other World League pool winners, played in the Final Round to win one million dollars. The U.S. may not have gone on to win the World League Finals, but their victory at home was an unforgettable—and rare—moment for the team and their fans.
Originally published in September/October 2011