Determined not to let history repeat itself, the U.S. Men’s national volleyball team defeated Puerto Rico in straight sets (25-21, 25-23, 25-22) late Tuesday to win its pool and advance to the semifinals of the NORCECA Men’s Continental Olympic Qualification Championship at Hector Sola Bezares Coliseum in Caguas, Puerto Rico.
Team USA (3-0) rested on Wednesday while Puerto Rico (2-1) played Mexico (1-2) and Cuba (2-1) played Dominican Republic (1-2) in the quarterfinals.
On Thursday, the U.S. Men and Canada will play the winners of each of the quarterfinals in the semifinals.
The tournament winner will qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The United States came close to qualifying for Beijing at the 2007 FIVB World Cup. However, Puerto Rico upset Team USA and the United States went on to finish fourth.
On Tuesday, Puerto Rico put up another fight, taking the lead in all three sets. But the U.S. Men were determined to win and found a way to come back every time they needed to. Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii) led the U.S. scorers with 14 points on 10 kills and a match-high four blocks. Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.) added 12 points 11 kills and one block.