U.S. Men Hope to Repeat History in Sofia
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SOFIA, Bulgaria (July 4, 2012) – The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team wouldn’t mind repeating a little history as it heads into the FIVB World League Final round this week in Sofia, Bulgaria.
In 2008, the team won the FIVB World League in Brazil, then went on to win the Olympic gold medal in Beijing.
Team USA, ranked No. 6 in the world by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), will get another opportunity at that one-two punch starting on Thursday when it begins pool play in the World League Final Round.
The U.S. Men will take on Germany (No. 13) at 8:45 p.m. local time (10:45 a.m. PT) on Thursday and then Bulgaria (No. 9) on Friday.
The pool winner and second-place team will cross over to play the second-place team and winner of Pool A, which includes Brazil (No. 1), Poland (No. 4) and Cuba (No. 5), in the semifinals on Saturday. The medal matches will take place on Sunday.
The winning World League team earns $1 million.
But money aside, U.S. Head Coach Alan Knipe emphasizes the importance of the U.S. Men being able to play several teams that have also qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“It is very important for us to get ready for those teams over in London,” Knipe said. “It will give as opportunity to see those teams and then after that we will have 10 days to prepare for London. But there is no price you can put on playing quality opponents.”
The players who were part of the 2008 World League team agree.
"It gave us confidence," said U.S. libero Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) of the World League title. "It let us know that we could win."
Several U.S. players completed the final round among the World League individual leaders.
Setter Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) finished first among all setters. He was credited with 331 sets and four faults and an average of 7.2 assists per set.
Outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) finished fifth among all scorers with 190 points on 156 attacks, 24 blocks and 10 aces. Opposite Clay Stanley (Honolulu) finished ninth with 154 points on 117 kills, 24 blocks and 13 aces.
Libero Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) completed pool play ranked fourth among liberos. He ranked fourth in digs with an average of 2.02 per set. He ranked sixth in excellent receptions with an efficiency of 53 percent. Anderson was seventh in receptions with an efficiency of 50.9 percent.
U.S. middle blocker Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) is sixth among all blockers with an average of .67 blocks per set. Stanley is eighth in aces with an average of .28 aces per set.
The U.S. Men advanced to the Final Round by winning Pool C with a 9-3 record over France, Italy and Korea.
Among the other teams, Cuba won Pool A over Russia, Serbia and Japan with a 10-2 record. Poland won Pool B with a 10-2 record while Brazil finished as the best second-place team at 8-4. Germany won Pool D with a 10-2 record over Bulgaria, Argentina and Portugal. Bulgaria advanced as the Final Round host country.
U.S. Men’s Roster for 2012 World League Final Round
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. Donald Suxho (S, 6-5, Korce, Albania, USC)
8. Reid Priddy (OH, 6-5, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
11. Brian Thornton (S, 6-3, San Clemente, Calif., UC Irvine)
12. Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
13. Clay Stanley (OPP, 6-9, Honolulu, Hawai'i, Hawaii)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
21. David McKienzie (Opp, 6-4, Littleton, Colo., Long Beach State)
Head Coach: Alan Knipe (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
Team Manager: Rob Browning (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: John Speraw (Irvine, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Gary Sato (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Ron Larsen (Lafayette, Calif.)
Technical Coordinator: Chris Jackson (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Medical Support: Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)
World League Final Round Schedule and Results
July 4: Bulgaria vs. Germany (10:45 a.m. PT)
July 5: Germany vs. USA (10:45 a.m. PT)
July 6: USA vs. Bulgaria (10:45 a.m. PT)
July 4: Cuba vs. Brazil (7:30 a.m. PT)
July 5: Brazil vs. Poland (7:30 a.m. PT)
July 6: Poland vs. Cuba (7:30 a.m. PT)
July 7: F1 vs. E2 (7:30 a.m. PT)
July 7: E1 vs. F2 (10:45 a.m. PT)
July 8: Bronze medal (7:30 a.m. PT)
July 8: Gold medal (10:45 a.m. PT)