Clay Stanley scored 16 points and the U.S. men's volleyball team improved to 2-0 in preliminary pool play at the London Olympics with a three-set victory over Germany on Tuesday.
West Seneca's Matt Anderson added 15 points in the 25-23, 25-16, 25-20 win for the defending Olympic champions. The Germans were led by Georg Grozer with 12.
The United States opened preliminary pool play with a three-set sweep of Serbia on Sunday. The men's and the women's volleyball teams play on alternating days at London's Earls Court.
< < Anderson, left, spikes the ball over Germany's Gyorgy Grozer during a men's preliminary volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
United States' Matthew Anderson, right, spikes the ball past Germany's Max Gunthor, left, and Bjorn Andrae during a men's preliminary volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Germany's Gyorgy Grozer, center, tries to spike the ball between United States' Matthew Anderson, left, and David Lee during a men's preliminary volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
No jitters for first-time Olympian
(AP) As an Olympic rookie, West Seneca's Matt Anderson was nervous he'd be nervous.
So the 6-foot-10 outside hitter for the U.S. men's volleyball team was pleasantly surprised when he wasn't fazed by the big stage at the London Games.
"When it comes down to it, it's volleyball. We're on a court that's the same dimensions as when we're training or playing anywhere else," he said. "So I try to take that mindset into the matches and just play."
Anderson, the youngest player on the team at 24, had 18 points when the United States opened competition on Sunday with a three-set sweep of Serbia. Up next is Germany on Tuesday as the preliminary rounds continue at Earls Court.
The U.S. men, under the hand of Alan Knipe, are the defending Olympic champions after rolling undefeated through the competition in Beijing and beating favorite Brazil in the final.
The United States is ranked No. 5 by volleyball's governing body. The team is in a difficult pool in London, joining top-ranked Brazil, perennial powerhouse Russia, Serbia, Germany and Tunisia. In the other pool are Italy, Poland, Argentina, Bulgaria, Australia and host Britain.
The top four teams from each group in the preliminary round will advance to the quarterfinals, and the gold medal match in London is set for Aug. 12.
The Americans are not considered a favorite in London despite a silver-medal finish in the recent FIVB World League tournament. Brazil has struggled of late, and the team failed to make the semifinals in the recent FIVB World League for the first time since 1998. But the Brazilians swept Tunisia in the Olympic tournament's opening match, while Russia won in thee sets over Germany.
But they were formidable against Serbia, which won the Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000 and finished fifth in Beijing in 2008.
Anderson was one of the reasons why.
"I think we have a chance to win the gold," he said. "We're a good team, and we're strong."
Born in Buffalo, Anderson led West Seneca West High School to a perfect 17-0 record his senior year. He also played club volleyball.
He went on to star at Penn State, which won the 2008 NCAA championship his junior year. He skipped his senior year to play professionally in Korea. Most of the top U.S. volleyball athletes play professionally overseas, where the opportunity can be lucrative.
On the U.S. men's national team, he says he has benefited from the experience of captain Clay Stanley, wing spiker Reid Priddy and libero Richard Lambourne, all veteran Olympians. The team is split between six players with Olympic experience and six first-timers.
"Just along the way, in matches and training, things will happen and they'll say, 'Remember this. It's going to happen in a big-time match, and you have to be able to come back from that.'"