U.S. Men Begin Worlds Campaign Saturday

Sept. 23, 2010, 11:25 p.m. (ET)

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

For the U.S. Men's 2010 World Championships Media Guide, click here.

NOTE: The semifinals and finals of the FIVB Men's Volleyball World Championship on Oct. 8-10 are scheduled to be shown live from Rome on Universal Sports.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 23, 2010) – Just two years after one of the best seasons in its history, the U.S. Men’s Volleyball Team has a much different look as it goes into the 2010 FIVB World Championships on Sept. 25-Oct. 10 in Italy.

Half the players on the 14-man roster (12 players will be chosen to play in each match) return from the 2008 team that won gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Beijing and the FIVB World League.

The other half joined the team in 2008 or later. In fact, one World Championship team member - Carson Clark (Santa Barbara, Calif.) is making his debut with the senior national team. Clark still has two years of eligibility at UC Irvine (to read more about the players competing at the World Championships, click here).

“It’s not necessarily the team we would have chosen on paper to start the summer,” said U.S. Head Coach Alan Knipe (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who took over as head coach in 2009. “But that’s why you have training blocks and you get into the gym. Guys play themselves into position.”

The World Championships will begin 11 weeks after the U.S. Men ended their 2010 World League campaign with a loss to Russia in pool play. The fact that the team did not reach the World League final round, as it had the previous three years, was hard to take said captain and outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.).

“We were extremely disappointed,” Priddy said. “I think those two weeks when we were on vacation instead of the World League final were extremely hard.

“We started this block with a team meeting. Everybody is working hard to make up the ground we lost; coming together and becoming one cohesive unit.”

Knipe has also emphasized team commitment during the pre-Worlds training block, as well as the importance of every point and every set of a match. They also used intense three-day training session to try to prepare for the rigorous World Championship schedule. He also emphasizes that every player on the 14-man roster will be called on to play during the tournament.

“For the first time in two years, we’ve had time to really train as a group. We’ve worked a lot on cohesiveness and the overall team system,” Knipe said.

“The overall lesson learned in World League was the value of playing every set, every match, ever point. Ultimately, (World League) came down to, ‘We didn’t put away teams when we could have.’”

The U.S. Men’s Team has not fared well in recent World Championships, finishing 10th in 2006 and ninth in 2002. The United States won its only Men’s World Championship gold medal in 1986. Its only other world championship medal was a bronze in 1994.

Heading into the 2010 World Championships, the U.S. Men are ranked third in the world behind Brazil (No. 1) and Russia (No. 2).

The U.S. Men begin World Championship competition with the first round of pool play in Reggio Calabria, Italy, on Sept. 25 against Mexico at noon PT. On Sept. 26, they will play Venezuela at noon PT and on Sept. 27, the will play Argentina at noon PT. Their results in the first round will determine where the team goes next.

Twenty-four teams have qualified for the World Championships, including the top 15 teams ranked by the FIVB. The U.S. Men cannot expect to have any easy matches.

The 24 teams will play in six pools in the first round in six different Italian cities. The last-place team in each pool will be dropped while the remaining 18 teams will be broken in to six new pools with three teams each and will play Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Catania, Milan and Ancona.

Again, the last-place teams will be eliminated and the remaining 12 teams will play the third round in four pools of three teams on Oct. 4-6. The venues will be in Rome and Florence.

The four first-place teams will move on to Rome to play in the semifinals. The four second-place teams will head for Modena to play for fifth-eighth place. The four third-place teams will play for ninth-12th in Florence.

The semifinals and finals will be on Oct. 8-10 and will be shown live on the Universal Sports cable channel.

The Competition

The former Soviet Union has won the most FIVB Men’s World Championship titles with six (1949, 1952, 1960, 1962, 1978, 1982), followed by Italy with three (1990, 1995, 1998). But there is little surprise that Brazil has won the last two World Championships (2002, 2006) and is a favorite to win again in 2010 after winning the last two FIVB World League titles.

But Knipe made it clear that the United States’ first priority is getting out of its pool.

“For us, the most important teams right now are Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina,” Knipe said. “If we start looking beyond that we could get into trouble.”

The U.S. Men have a 23-0 record against Mexico since 1981 and they are 39-8 against Argentina, which last defeated the U.S. during a 2006 exhibition tour in Argentina.

But Venezuela has had some recent success against the United States. In 2006 it stunned the U.S. Men by defeating them in the opening match of the World Championships, 3-1 (18-25, 25-20, 21-25, 18-25).

Two years later at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Venezuela took the U.S. Men, who were without Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) due to a family tragedy, to five sets before Team USA finally put the South Americans away. Overall, the United States is 10-3 against Venezuela.

Among the other pools, Pool A includes host Italy, Japan, Egypt and Iran in an even looking group. The home side will be hoping it can carry over its performance from the World League, which saw it win nine matches in the preliminary rounds. Japan and Egypt will aim to use their recent momentum in continental tournaments to boost their chances.

Pool B will offer a mouth-watering clash as world No.1 Brazil will face off with NORCECA champion Cuba. They are joined by Spain, which has performed well in Europe recently, and Tunisia in Verona.

Pool C will see 2010 FIVB World League runner-up Russia play Puerto Rico, Australia and Cameroon in Modena.

China will have to face off against some of Europe’s finest in Pool E as it plays France, Czech Republic and the always impressive Bulgaria, which will be seething after narrowly missing out on a final round place at this year’s FIVB World League. All four teams will be playing in Torino.

Finally, Serbia, Poland, Germany and Canada will battle it out in Pool F in Trieste. Poland and Germany have already played several close matches against each other this year. Add in 2010 World League bronze medalist Serbia and this will be a tough group.

To reach the 2010 FIVB Men's World Championship page, click here.

2010 FIVB World Championship
Sept. 25-Oct. 10 in Italy

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)
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 Jonathan Winder (S, 6-8, Irvine, Calif., Pepperdine)
8 Reid Priddy (OH, 6-5, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
10 Riley Salmon (OH, 6-6, League City, Texas, Pierce College)
13 Clay Stanley (OPP, 6-9, Honolulu, Hawai'i, Hawai'i)
14 Kevin Hansen (S, 6-5, Newport Beach, Calif., Stanford)
15 Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
16 Carson Clark (Opp, 6-5, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
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: Greg Vernovage (Susquehanna, Pa.)
Assistant Coach: Gary Sato (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Trainer: Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.)
Technical Coordinator:
Chris Jackson (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Team Doctors: Andrew Gregory (Nashville, Tenn.) and Keith Feder (Manhattan Beach, Calif.)
Medical Support:
Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)

Pool D First Round Schedule (all times PT)

Sept. 25: Venezuela vs. Argentina, 8 a.m.
Sept: 25: USA vs. Mexico, noon
Sept. 26: Argentina vs. Mexico, 8 a.m.
Sept. 26: USA vs. Venezuela, noon
Sept. 27: Venezuela vs. Mexico, 8 a.m.
Sept. 27: USA vs. Argentina, noon