The United States men's volleyball needed something extra. Not only did the Americans need to beat Russia in order to stay alive for contention into the FIVB World League Final Round, they needed to sweep.
It was easier said than done as the Americans edged the Russians, 25-21, 27-25, 25-23, at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas Friday night.
A tight second set nearly did in Team USA, which managed to squeak by with a 27-25 win in the set, courtesy of a clutch kill from Stanford grad Kevin Hansen, normally the team's setter. He had two kills on the evening.
The Americans still need to win Saturday's final preliminary round match, also at 7 p.m. in Wichita but there's some leeway now. The U.S. has to win by at least a 3-1 count.
It took a pair of veterans to turn the tide against Russia, with 32-year-old William Priddy tearing up the courts in the first set and joining 2008 Olympic MVP Clay Stanley with a successful combination in the second set.
Russell Holmes, who set his collegiate career high of 19 kills against Stanford in 2008, made his presence felt in the third set.
The U.S. led most of the way in the third set, only to watch as Russia took a 23-21 lead. That was the last point of the match for the Russians as the Americans won the next four points for the important sweep, with Holmes setting the stage for match point.
The U.S. Women's Junior National Team defeated Mexico 25-19, 25-14, 25-14 on Friday in the semifinal match at the NORCECA Women's Junior (U-20) Continental Championship held in Tijuana, Mexico.
The U.S. qualified for the 2011 FIVB Women's Junior World Championship (U-20) in Peru as a result of the victory and remains undefeated heading into the gold-medal match on Saturday.
"The most important thing is that USA has qualified for the World Championships," American coach Rob Browning said. "It was a great performance by our team. We must now prepare for a very talented Dominican Republic team. We've obtained one of our goals; the other is to defend the Championship."
Browning started captain Carly Wopat, who had six kills and two blocks in the match. Stanford incoming freshman Samantha Wopat subbed in all three sets.
The U.S. team of Cardinal grad Matt Fuerbringer and Nick Lucena, seeded 13th, completed pool play undefeated and advance into Saturday's elimination round at the $600,000 1to1 energy Grand Slam in Gstaad, Switzerland, part of the SWATCH FIVB World Tour.
Fuerbringer and Lucena meet the third-ranked team from Spain and are two matches away from Sunday's semifinals.
Fuerbringer and Lucena, who had to qualify for the main draw, won their first pool play match over Russia's 20th-ranked Serguei Prokopiev and Yury Bogatov, 2-1 (21-19, 18-21, 15-13) in 56 minutes. They won their second match against and Switzerland's 29th-ranked Martin Laciga and Jefferson Bellaguarda, 2-1 (21-18, 32-34, 15-12) in 1:09, the longest men's match of the day.
They advanced into the elimination round when the fourth-ranked team from China, which had already lost its first two matches of pool play, was forced to withdrew due to injury.
After losing its first two pool play matches on Wednesday, the 18th-ranked U.S. women's team of Lauren Fendrick and Stanford grad Ashley Ivy advanced to Thursday's first round by defeating Great Britain's 31st-ranked Lucy Boulton and Denise Johns, 21-14, 21-14 in 37 minutes.
Fendrick and Ivy lost in the first round of elimination to Germany's sixth-ranked Laura Ludwig and Sara Goller, 21-13, 21-15.
USA Track and field
Stanford sophomore Karynn Dunn was named to the United States World Junior Championship roster and will compete in the long jump at the 13th IAAF World Junior Championships, which begin July 19 at Stade Moncton 2010 Stadium in Moncton, Canada.
Dunn earned her spot on the team by winning the long jump (20-4 1/2) at last month's USA junior championships in Des Moines.
At the National club championships at San Francisco State, Stanford grad Nicholas Welihozkiy won the men's hammer throw with a best of 216-3 on Friday.