Powerful Russiarolls past U.S. men
XATHENS, Greece -- After starting the Olympic tournament with a loss, Russia has found its rhythm. For opponents, that makes winning a formidable challenge -- in case the United States needed a reminder.
Overcoming a slow start, the Russians played their patient, serve-and-block game to near perfection and beat the Americans in four sets, 22-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-23 on Thursday.
Stanislav Dineykin had 20 kills and three blocks for Russia, which has won two straight since an opening defeat to the Netherlands in five sets.
"Both teams played very well, but we made less mistakes," Dineykin said.
That's exactly how the Russians succeed: take advantage of their height at the net, put pressure on the other team with consistently powerful serves and make the smart play on offense.
Dineykin, one of two 7-footers on the team, helped limit the impact of American opposite Clay Stanley.
"I need to do a better job of seeing that they're there -- or hitting it a little sharper or hitting it more down the line," said Stanley, who still finished with 22 points.
"I took a few good swings down the line and I was feeling good on that," he said, "but you can only take so many before they start to figure it out."
Stanley's teammates need to help him out more, too.
"What's tough is when guys are beaming the ball that hard on the serve, it puts Clay in a difficult situation," outside hitter Reid Priddy said. "Unfortunately, we didn't get on a roll on our own service line, which really puts them on their heels."
They did at the beginning of the first set, when -- with Stanley serving -- the U.S. scored seven straight and took a 7-1 lead.
Brazil remained the only unbeaten team in Pool B with a four-set victory over the Netherlands. Italy, bouncing back from a five-set loss to Brazil, stayed right behind with a sweep over Australia.
In Pool A, Argentina is 3-0 after handing host Greece its first loss. France picked up its first win by beating Poland in three sets, and defending gold medalist Serbia-Montenegro swept Tunisia.
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