The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team had little trouble winning their first match of the NORCECA Men’s Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament as they swept Trinidad & Tobago on Monday, 24-9, 25-10, 25-14 at the Pyramid in Long Beach.

The U.S. Men open tournament pool play with a 1-0 record and will play Costa Rica (0-1) at 8 p.m. PT on Tuesday. Trinidad & Tobago will play Mexico at 3 p.m. PT.

The U.S. dominated Trinidad & Tobago, leading 12-0 in aces, 7-2 in blocks and 33-14 in attacks.

“It was our first match,” U.S. Head Coach Alan Knipe said, coaching in the building he’s more accustomed to seeing as the head coach of Long Beach State. “I thought it was important that we play with the right mentality and a good sense of urgency.”

U.S. middle blocker David Lee (a Long Beach State alum) led all scorers on Monday with 11 points on a match-high eight attacks (72.7 kill percent, .636 hitting efficiency), two blocks and one ace.

Outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) added nine points on six attacks, one block and two aces. Outside hitter Paul Lotman (another LBSU alum), who started only the third set, totaled seven points on five kills and two aces.

Outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) finished with six points on two kills, one block and a match-high three aces. Opposite and team captain Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii) totaled six points on six attacks.

“We did a great job behind the service line,” Stanley said. “Our block was good and it put a lot of pressure on Trinidad.”

Opposite Dave McKienzie (Littleton, Colo.) scored five points on four kills and one ace. Setter Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) finished with four points on two blocks and two aces. Middle blocker Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) added three points on one kill, one block and one ace.

Middle blocker Ryan Millar (Alpine, Utah) finished with one point on one attack.

Suxho set the U.S. Men to a 67.3 kill percent and a .571 hitting efficiency.

Libero Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) led in digs with 11 and was credited with four excellent serve receptions. Anderson led the team in excellent receptions with eight.

Trinidad team captain Nolan Tash paced the Caribbean team with six points on six attacks.

U.S. Men’s Head Coach Alan Knipe started Anderson and Priddy at outside hitter, Lee and Millar at middle blocker, Suxho at setter, Stanley at opposite and Lambourne at libero.

Lotman started the third set for Priddy. Holmes took over for Millar in the second set and started the third. McKienzie played as a substitute as did outside hitter Riley Salmon (League City, Texas).

The U.S. took an 8-4 lead at the first technical timeout (TTO) of the first set and led 13-6 when Anderson took the serve and opened with an ace. He served for the next six points, including another ace. His run finally ended when he served in the net and the U.S. Men were leading 21-8. Trinidad and Tobago scored once more on a U.S. service error, but the U.S. Men cruised to the set victory.

The U.S. took an 8-3 lead in the second set, scoring on two kills from Lee and one each from Priddy, Millar and Stanley. Coming out of the break, the U.S. scored on a Trinidad mistake and Millar block to increase the lead to 10-3 before Tash came back with a kill to end the run. The U.S. led 16-7 at the second TTO. The U.S. Men led 19-10 when Stanley scored with a kill, giving the serve to Priddy opened with an ace. The U.S. got three more kills from Anderson, Stanley and Holmes as they won the set.

The U.S. led 8-4 at the first TTO of the third set, scoring on two kills from Lee and one by Lotman, who also had an ace. The U.S. also had two blocks. Trinidad did not give up and pulled to within three points at 12-9, but it was called for a net violation and then had a passing error to put the U.S. Men back up by five. With the U.S. leading 15-11, Anderson scored with a kill and block and Lotman had an ace to give the U.S. an 18-11 lead. Tash came back with a kill, but Trinidad served out of bounds and the U.S. scored on a McKienzie kill and Holmes ace to lead 21-12 and roll to the victory.

Sports Guy Mike Guardabascio has been writing professionally for a decade, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards and is the author of the historical book "Football in Long Beach."

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