MEN'S VOLLEYBALL U.S. rallies to defeat Greece to reach semis



XATHENS, Greece -- A wild comeback lifted the United States from the brink of defeat against an inspired Greek team on Wednesday, putting the Americans in the Olympic volleyball semifinals for the first time in 12 years.
Kevin Barnett scored 20 points and Reid Priddy added 16 to lead the United States back from 2 sets to 1 down, a huge deficit in the fourth set and a match point in the fifth.
The victory -- 25-20, 22-25, 25-27, 25-23, 17-15 -- guarantees the Americans a spot in one of the medal games for the first time since they earned a bronze in 1992.
They'll play Friday against Brazil, which swept Poland. Also, Russia eliminated defending gold medalist Serbia-Montenegro and Italy beat Argentina -- both in four sets. The Russians and Italians will meet in the other semifinal.
Antrej Kravarik scored 26 points for Greece, which had a raucous crowd of 9,300 behind it the whole way, only to watch the United States fight back in arguably the tournament's most competitive match.
All appeared lost for the United States team when it went down 2 sets to 1 and fell behind 8-1 to begin the fourth set. When the score reached 20-12 in favor of the Greeks, the Americans wore the blank expressions of players just five points from elimination.
But Ryan Millar's kill fueled a rally that Barnett capped with a spike on set point.
With injured middle blocker Theodoros Chatziantoniou cheering from his back, Greece took a 14-13 lead in the final set. Kravarik's serve landed wide, and U.S. backup setter Donald Suxho -- faking a pass at the net -- flipped the ball into the Greek backcourt to give the Americans a 15-14 advantage.
Ryan Millar's kill made it 16-15. When Sotirios Pantaleon's spike attempt missed on U.S. match point, the Americans celebrated and the Greek players looked on in agony.
Greece captain Marios Gkiouradas went crazy, claiming an American player touched the net. He angrily grabbed the net before sprinting over and complaining to an official.
Associated Press
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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