U.S. Men, Bulgaria Will Meet Again in Beijing

July 18, 2008, 2:55 a.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800               

ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 17, 2008) – At first glance, it might seem that the FIVB World League matches on Friday (July 18) and Saturday (July 19) between the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team and Bulgaria in Varna are meaningless.

The U.S. Men have already won Pool C with a 9-1 record and second-place Bulgaria (6-4) has no chance of even a wild-card berth in the final round as the FIVB has already announced that Japan will get the sixth slot to Rio.

But consider that after this weekend, the next time the U.S. Men will play Bulgaria is at the Olympic Games in Beijing (Aug. 14 at Capital Indoor Stadium), and suddenly the matches have a whole new meaning.

So there is a bit of gamesmanship going on, as each team tries to learn as much as possible about the other without giving away too much of its own strategy.

“We don’t know what Bulgaria will do,” U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said. “My guess is they will use their top guys since this is their final major competition before the Olympics. But we will see.”

McCutcheon has chosen to leave four of his starters at home: setter Lloy Ball (Woodburn, Ind.), middle blocker Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.), outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) and opposite Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawai’i), to let them recover from the past five weeks of World League competition and prepare for the Olympic Games.

In their places will be opposite Brook Billings (Santa Barbara, Calif.), middle blocker Phil Eatherton (Glencoe, Mo.), setter Brandon Taliaferro (San Clemente, Calif.) and middle blocker Delano Thomas (Honolulu, Hawai’i).

The matches will be played at 5:30 p.m. local time (7:30 a.m. PDT) at Varna’s Palace of Culture & Sports.
Live scoring is available on the FIVB Web site.

Going into Friday’s match, Priddy was third among all World League hitters with 82 kills on 154 total attempts for a success percentage of 53.29. Millar was second among all blockers with an average of .81 blocks per set. Stanley was fourth among servers with an average of .35 aces per set while Priddy was sixth with an average of .29. Ball was eighth among setter with an average of 5.68 running sets per set. Libero Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) was third among receivers with an efficiency percentage of 65.10.

The World League final round will be played July 23-27 in Rio de Janeiro. The confirmed teams are the United States as the winner of Pool C, Japan as the wild card, Brazil as the host country and Russia as the winner of Pool B. 

Poland and China are still fighting to win Pool D. Poland leads with a 7-3 record going into this weekend’s matches against Egypt. China will host Japan.  Meanwhile, Brazil is leading Pool A, but already has a slot in the final round as the host, so second-place France (6-4) is battling third-place Serbia (5-5) in Serbia to determine which team advances.

View the U.S. Men's World League Media Guide at www.usavolleyball.org/media/national/08WL_MNTMediaGuide.pdf.   

The U.S. World League site is www.usavolleyball.org/national/08WL.asp.  

The FIVB World League site is www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2008.  

2008 FIVB World League
U.S. Men's Roster

2 Sean Rooney (OH, 6-9, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
4 David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
5 Rich Lambourne (L, 6-3, Tustin, Calif., BYU)
6 Phil Eatherton (MB, 6-9, Glencoe, Mo., Ball State)
7 10 Riley Salmon (OH, 6-6, League City, Texas, Pierce College)
11 Brook Billings (Opp, 6-5, Santa Barbara, Calif., USC)
12 C Tom Hoff (MB, 6-8, Park Ridge, Ill., Long Beach State)
14 Kevin Hansen (S, 6-5, Newport Beach, Calif., Stanford)
15 Gabe Gardner (Opp, 6-9, San Clemente, Calif., Stanford)
16 Brandon Taliaferro (S, 6-5, San Clemente, Calif., UCLA)
17 Delano Thomas (MB, 6-7, Sacramento, Calif., Hawai’i)
18 Scott Touzinsky (OH, 6-6, St. Louis, Mo., Long Beach State)

Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon
Team Manager: Marv Dunphy
Assistant Coach: Ron Larsen
Assistant Coach: John Speraw
Team Doctor: William Briner, Jr.
Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock

FIVB 2008 World League Standings as of July 17 (click on link to view team profile):

Pool A
Brazil 8-2
France 6-4
Serbia 5-5
Venezuela 1-9

Pool B
Russia 9-1
Italy 6-4
Cuba 5-5
Korea 0-10

Pool C
USA 9-1
Bulgaria 6-4
Spain 3-7
Finland 2-8

Pool D
Poland 7-3
China 5-5
Egypt 4-6
Japan 4-6

U.S. World League Schedule and Results

Date: June 13-14
Opponent: Finland
Location: Helsinki, Finland (LänsiAuto Arena)
June 13: USA def. Finland, 3-1 (25-18, 25-19, 23-25, 25-20)
June 14: USA def. Finland, 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-16)

Date: June 20-21
Opponent: Bulgaria
Location: Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
June 20: USA def. Bulgaria, 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-16)
June 21: Bulgaria def. USA, 3-2 (12-25, 25-16, 25-20, 12-25, 15-13)

Date: June 27-28
Opponent: Finland
Location: Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis.
June 27: USA def. Finland, 3-1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-17, 25-20)
June 28: USA def. Finland, 3-1 (25-17, 22-25, 25-18, 25-18)

Date: July 4 and 6
Opponent: Spain
Location: Madrid, Spain
July 4: USA def. Spain, 3-2 (25-23, 25-22, 29-31, 20-25, 18-16)
July 6: USA def. Spain, 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-23)

Date: July 11-12 (7 p.m. local both nights)
Opponent: Spain
Location: U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, Ill.
July 11: USA def. Spain, 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 27-25)
July 12: USA def. Spain, 3-1 (24-26, 25-22, 25-13, 25-18)

Date: July 18-19
Opponent: Bulgaria
Location: Varna, Bulgaria

Date: July 23-27
Event: World League Final (must qualify)
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil