Rob Browning with the U.S. Men at the '09 World League
2009 World League
ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (June 13, 2009) – The Olympic gold medal on USA's chest was used as a target tonight in Rotterdam and the Netherlands played with intensity and purpose to control the match from beginning to end in defeating USA three sets to none. Although USA kept things close on the scoreboard the entire match the defending World League champs were never able to find a rhythm, mostly because the Netherlands would not let them.
In the first set, USA traded points with the Dutch until they got to 20. Netherlands then created some distance with a couple of aces that finally got the crowd into the match. All night long it felt as though USA was just a play or two behind the Dutch. It felt as though if USA could have pulled out the 3rd set the entire complexion of the match would have changed. However, at 24-24 with NED serving Sean Rooney hit a back-row attack hard to the deep corner and the Dutch libero, Jelte Maan dove and stuck his left fist out, digging the ball perfectly up to the net in the middle of the court. The Netherlands counter attacked with a back row attack of their own for a kill and match point. That was the story of the match as NED always had an answer for whatever USA was able to bring. NED played great defense, served and passed the ball well, and hit for a great efficiency.
Head Coach Alan Knipe did all he could to find the right combination of players as 11 saw action tonight. The subs played well, but in the end the story of the match was the Netherlands.
Tonight’s World League match marked the beginning of USA’s defense of the 2008 World League title. While there are lots of faces missing from the 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medal team, there is a good mix of veterans and youth representing the USA this weekend in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Not only are gold medalists Rich Lambourne, David Lee, Kevin Hansen, Scott Touzinsky and Sean Rooney on the roster, but former 2004 Athens Olympians Donald Suxho and Brook Billings add solid experience to the team.
The site of this weekend’s matches is where USA competed in the 2000 World League Finals—Rotterdam’s Ahoy arena. In 2000 USA cruised through their World League group of Brazil, Poland and Spain only to falter in the finals. USA also drew Netherlands in their group following the 2000 Olympics, playing their pair of away matches against Holland in Amsterdam.