VOLLEYBALL U.S. men's team still has life after victory
XATHENS, Greece -- The United States men's volleyball team preserved its chance of advancing to the medal round by beating Australia in four sets on Saturday.
Middle blocker Ryan Millar, in his best match of the Olympics, led the American attack in a 25-19, 23-25, 25-13, 25-19 victory.
The U.S. team (2-2) positioned itself for the fourth and final quarterfinal berth in its group. The Americans finish the preliminary competition Monday against top-ranked Brazil, but they might not need to win to advance.
Millar, who sprained his ankle this summer and played sparingly in the opener against Italy, has steadily worked his way back into form. He came up with several key blocks and spikes with his powerful, compact swing.
The Australians fell to 0-4 despite a strong game at the net by Zane Christensen. The Americans pulled away in the final two sets.
The Aussies finished eighth as the hosts of the 2000 Games, and middle blocker Daniel Howard was named the tournament's best attacker. They're a fledgling program with limited international experience, but they've earned respect in the Athens Games.
Though prone to more mistakes than polished teams like Brazil, Italy and Russia, Australia has a formidable attack with Howard and Christensen, both 6-foot-10, and 6-foot-9 Hidde van Beest at the net.
The Aussies won their first set against the Brazilians and took the Russians deep into sets twice, losing 26-24 and 25-23.
The Americans wanted to avoid a letdown in the day's opening match. They succeeded.
The United States never trailed in the first set and turned it on down the stretch, scoring five of the last six points to go ahead 1-0. Reid Priddy ended it with a spike from the left side.
Australia surged to an 8-2 advantage in the second set, leading the entire way until a serve by Donald Suxho nicked an Aussie defender on its way out of bounds to tie it at 19.
A floater by Millar, one of the weakest U.S. servers, sneaked inside the line to even the set at 23. But Australia won the final two points for its only game in the match.
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