U.S. Men in Russia to Begin World League

June 02, 2010, 5:44 p.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: (719) 228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 2, 2010) – The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team has begun its annual exercise in accruing frequent flier miles and is in Ekaterinburg, Russia this week for the first weekend of the 2010 FIVB World League.

The U.S. Men, ranked No. 2 in the world by the FIVB, will play two matches against No. 3 Russia on June 4-5. Both matches will be at 6 p.m. in Russia (8 a.m. EDT, 5 a.m. PDT). They will stay in Europe to play two matches against Finland on June 11-12.

After winning their first World League title in 2008, the U.S. Men met their goal of taking their pool – which included Italy, China and Netherlands – in 2009. But at the final round, the United States lost in straight sets to both Russia and Serbia in pool play and did not advance to the semifinals. Team USA finished sixth. Russia went on to place third while Brazil won its eighth World League title, defeating Serbia in the gold medal match.

While some might view the United States having to play its first matches in Russia against one of the world’s top teams as a burden, U.S. Men’s Head Coach Alan Knipe (Huntington Beach, Calif.) is looking at the trip as an opportunity.

“I think it’s a great schedule,” Knipe said. “I like the fact we’re playing both matches in Europe back to back. It’s nice to have a lengthier trip out of the gate. Good bonding and team dynamics come out of longer road trips.”

There are a few factors working in the United States’ favor on this trip, including the return of 2008 Olympic gold medalists Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) at outside hitter and middle blocker Ryan Millar (Alpine, Utah) to the team. Neither athlete played in the 2009 FIVB World League, needing a break after a rigorous schedule in 2008.

Priddy, who is serving as the U.S. team captain for World League, is returning to Russia less than a month after he left following the completion of the Russian Super League playoffs in which his team, Lokomotiv Novosibirsk, finished fourth. Three other U.S. players making the trip to Russia also competed in the Russian league during the past winter: middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) also plays for Novosibirsk; setter Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.) and outside hitter Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.) played for Fakel Novy Urengoi.

Opposite Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii), who also played in Russia during the winter of 2009-10 for Zenit Kazan, the league champion, did not make the trip to Europe.

Having U.S. players who have competed in Russia is a definite asset, said Rooney, who was the USA Volleyball Male Indoor Player of the Year in 2009 and was the United States' leading scorer in both pool play and the final round of the World League competition.

“The Russian team has made some changes There are going to be a couple new faces,” he said. “They’re going to be strong. Being over there in that league is definitely beneficial to us.”

Among the faces to watch are Dmitry Ilinykh, 23, Dmitri Musersky, 21 and Denis Birukov, 21, all of whom played for Lokomotiv Belogorie in the Russia league playoff.

Outside hitter Semen Poltavskiy, middle blocker Alexander Volkov and opposite Maxim Mikhaylov, who led Russia in 2009, are also back on its roster.

However, Russia will be missing veterans Sergey Tetukhin, who retired from the national team last year, and Alexey Verbov and Alexey Kuleshov, who are both expected to join the team later this season.

Russia is coached by Italian Daniele Bagnoli, who took over at the beginning of 2009.

Other U.S. Men’s players who will be making the European trip are outside hitters Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) and Riley Salmon (League City, Texas); middle blockers Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) and Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio); liberos Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) and Alfee Reft (Oxnard, Calif.); opposite Evan Patak (Pleasanton, Calif.) and setter Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania).

The U.S. Men have a record of 55-39 against Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) since 1981, but are 3-9 against it since 2000. One of the biggest victories came in the semifinal match of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where the United States won 3-2 (25-22, 25-21, 25-27, 22-25, 15-13).

The United States will host Russia for World League on July 9-10 in Wichita, Kan.

For the U.S. Men's World League Media Guide, click here.

The USA Volleyball page for World League information is http://usavolleyball.org/events/2878.

To visit the FIVB World League page with photos, statistics and live scoring, click here

2010 FIVB World League
June 4-5 in Ekaterinburg, Russia
U.S. Roster

No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1 Matt Anderson (OH, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2 Sean Rooney (OH, 6-9, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
3 Evan Patak (Opp, 6-8, Pleasanton, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
4 David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
5 Rich Lambourne (L, 6-3, Tustin, Calif., BYU)
6 Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7 Donald Suxho (S, 6-5, Korce, Albania, USC)
8 C Reid Priddy (OH, 6-5, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
9 Ryan Millar (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Utah, BYU)
10 Riley Salmon (OH, 6-6, League City, Texas, Pierce College)
14 Kevin Hansen (S, 6-5, Newport Beach, Calif., Stanford)
15 Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
17 Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
19 Alfee Reft (L, 5-10, Oxnard, Calif., Hawai'i)

Head Coach: Alan Knipe (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
Team Leader: Rob Browning (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Gary Sato (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Trainer: Ron Larsen (Lafayette, Calif.)
Technical Coordinator: Chris Jackson (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Team Doctor: William Schobert (Mission Viejo, Calif.)
Medical Support: Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)

2010 U.S. World League Schedule

Pool Play
June 4-5
Opponent: Russia
Location: Ekaterinburg, Russia

Date: June 11-12
Opponent: Finland
Location: Tampere, Finland

Date: June 18-19 (7 p.m. both days)
Opponent: Egypt
Location: Cabarrus Arena in Concord, N.C. - www.visitcabarrus.com

Date: June 25-26 (7 p.m. both days)
Opponent: Finland
Location: Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Date: July 2-3
Opponent: Egypt
Location: Cairo, Egypt

Date: July 9 at 7 p.m.; July 10 at 6 p.m.
Opponent: Russia
Location: Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kan. - www.wichitasports.com/

Final Round (must qualify)
Date: July 21-25
Location: Cordoba, Argentina