Team USA places fifth at FINA World League Super Final


Stanford's Alex Bowen and Bret Bonanni each scored twice as the United States men's national water polo team beat Canada, 14-11, to claim fifth place at the FINA World League Super Final in Dubai on Saturday.

Bowen scored six goals in the Americans' 15-5 win over China on Friday.

The six goals were the highest of any individual athlete during a single game of this tournament. Bowen, who scored 12 goals in the tournament, was named to the media all-star team for the tournament.

"I haven't scored that many goals before in a tournament," Bowen said. "I'm pretty excited. We started working a lot for each other and sacrificing the body for everyone else. I was definitely working harder and my teammates worked for me and that actually opened up opportunities for me. It was really a team effort."

Team USA was off to a quick start, with four goals in the first quarter, as China was able to score once. During the second quarter, USA's men continued scoring a total of six goals, securing their lead, as China scored one goal.

At the start of the second half, China posted two goals, as Team USA scored once. Team USA cemented their win during the fourth quarter with four more goals, as China had a single goal, ending the game at 15-5.

Team USA coach Dejan Udovicic received a red card after obtaining a yellow card during a timeout earlier in the match. He served a one-match suspension, missing the game against Canada.

Men's volleyball

Bulgaria won its first FIVB Volleyball World League match on Saturday by ending Team USA's unbeaten streak.

Bulgaria beat the Americans in five sets, 24-26, 17-25, 25-14, 25-13, 15-12, at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates.

USA (7-1) goes on the road to play matches in Russia and Serbia over the next two weekends.

USA led in spikes 48-43, and in blocks 14-7, but Bulgaria led in aces 12-10.

The Americans won Friday's match in four sets, 20-25, 25-22, 25-16, 25-16, as Stanford grad Kawika Shoji played setter the final three sets. He recorded 53 attempts without an error and was credited with nine running sets.

Cardinal grad Erik Shoji, the U.S. libero, had four digs and 11 excellent receptions.

Women's volleyball

The U.S., ranked No. 2 in the world, hosts No. 1 Brazil in the four-match USA Volleyball Cup with the first two contests in Southern California.

The competition opens on July 5 at UC Irvine's Bren Center at 7 p.m., while the series shifts to USC's Galen Center on July 6 at 5 p.m. The final two matches will be played at the University of Hawaii on July 11-12.

The U.S. Women have lost to Brazil in the last two Olympics Games gold-medal matches in 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 (London). The U.S. women have never won a major volleyball gold medal in the program's history (Olympic Games, FIVB World Championship, FIVB World Cup) whereas their male counterparts have won Olympic gold three times.

In the second year of the Olympic quadrennial, the American team is building toward Olympic qualification. Team USA was 25-6 in 2013 playing a young roster that netted 13 wins against teams among the top 10 in the world.

Not only will they need to be their best to be one of the 12 teams to earn a spot into the Olympic Games once team qualifications start in 2015, but they will need to be their best in 2016 to overcome their arch rival, Brazil, which will have home court advantage at the 2016 Olympic Games.

"We are so fortunate to be able to host Brazil for this year's USA Volleyball Cup," Team USA coach Karch Kiraly said. "This series of matches will provide our team with an important opportunity to see how we measure up against the world's No. 1 team and how much harder we need to work to achieve our goals of becoming world No. 1 as well as Olympic champions. Having large pro-USA crowds on hand to support our effort will be essential. It will be a fun and exciting weekend of world-class volleyball that does not come to this area at this level very often."

The Americans lost to the Dominican Republic, 25-18, 25-18, 17-25, 25-21, in the championship match of the Pan Am tournament in Mexico City on Friday.

Stanford grad Cassidy Lichtman recorded nine kills for the U.S.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/USA Water Polo/USA volleyball

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