B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Phone: (719) 228-6800
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 17, 2012) – Less than one week after qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team will begin its FIVB World League campaign in Florence, Italy.
The U.S. Men are happy to have the weight of Olympic qualification off their backs as they head into their second important tournament of the season.
“Olympic qualifying was our first goal for the season,” U.S. Head Coach Alan Knipe (Huntington Beach, Calif.) said. “With that out of the way, our coaches and players can focus on giving a strong World League performance heading into the Olympic Games.”
Due to the 2012 Olympic Games, World League will have a different format this year as all the teams in the pool will travel to each location for three matches per weekend for four weekends. The U.S. Men open in Florence where they will play France on May 18 (8 a.m. PT), Korea on May 19 (8 a.m. PT) and Italy on May 20 (11:30 a.m. PT).
After the Italy weekend, there will be an almost four-week break before the next weekend on June 15-17 in Lyon, France. The break is for the FIVB World Olympic Qualification Tournaments, which will be the final opportunity for teams to qualify for London.
The U.S. Men and Italy both qualified for London by winning their confederation qualification tournaments. France and Korea will compete at the World Olympic Qualification Tournaments. So it is possible that by the second weekend of World League on June 15-17, the U.S. pool could include four Olympic qualifiers.
The U.S. Men will play their third weekend of World League on June 22-24 in Gwangju, Korea. They will complete pool play on June 29-July 1 at the Dallas Convention Center Arena in Texas. They will play Korea at 7:30 p.m. CT on June 29 (France will play Italy in the first match at 5 p.m. CT). The United States will take on France at 7:30 p.m. CT on June 30 (Italy will play Korea in the first match at 5 p.m. CT). The series finale will pit the U.S. Men against Italy at 7:30 p.m. CT on July 1 (France will play Korea in the first match at 5 p.m. CT).
Only the four World League pool winners, the best second-place team and the host country of Bulgaria will qualify for the World League Final Round on July 4-8 in Sofia.
The winning World League team is awarded $1 million.
The teams were allowed 25-player rosters for 2012, from which 14 players may be selected for each weekend and 12 are allowed to suit up each night.
For the first weekend in Italy, Knipe is bringing the 12 players from the NORCECA Qualification roster, plus outside hitter Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.) and opposite Gabe Gardner (San Clemente, Calif.), who both won gold medals at the 2008 World League Final Round and the 2008 Olympic Games with the U.S. Men.
“Many of our guys went straight from overseas teams to practices for the NORCECA Qualifier,” Knipe said. “So while we will take World League seriously, we will also take opportunities to rest our players when they need it. We have a deep pool of talent to pick from.”
Starting opposite Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii), the 2008 Olympic men’s volleyball most valuable player who had to have arthroscopic knee surgery in December after playing a half season in Russia, appears to be back to almost 100 percent. He was named the most valuable player of the NORCECA Tournament, finishing with 61 points on 40 kills (55.6 kill percent, .500 hitting efficiency), a team-leading 10 aces and 11 blocks.
Starting outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), coming off a stellar winter season in Italy, led the team in scoring and was named the best spiker. He finished with 64 points on 52 kills (63.4 kill percent, .585 hitting efficiency), four blocks and eight aces along with 19 digs.
Starting outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.), a 2008 gold medalist who won the league title with his Russian team over the winter, was the United States’ third-leading scorer with 47 points on 35 attacks (46,7 kill percent, .400 hitting efficiency), six blocks and six aces.
Starting middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.), a 2008 gold medalist, also had a successful winter season in Russia and came home to help lead the U.S. Men to Olympic qualification. He was named the tournament’s best blocker as he finished with 43 points on 30 kills (81.1 kill percent, .784 hitting efficiency).
At the other middle blocker spot, Knipe split time between 2008 gold medalist Ryan Millar (Alpine, Utah) and Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.). Holmes finished with 33 points on 21 attacks (75.0 kill percent, .714 hitting efficiency), eight blocks and four aces. Millar scored 11 points on eight kills and three blocks.
Setter Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania), a 2004 Olympian, had a good winter season in Italy and worked his way into the starting position for the Olympic Qualifier. He was credited with 87 assists and three faults for the tournament and set the team to a 58.8 kill percent and a .536 hitting efficiency.
Libero Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.), a 2008 gold medalist, finished the tournament with 38 digs (2.37 per set) and 58 receptions.
The other players on the 14-man roster for the first weekend include outside hitters Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) and Riley Salmon (League City, Texas), a 2008 gold medalist, opposite Dave McKienzie (Littleton, Colo.) and setter Brian Thornton (San Clemente, Calif.).
The U.S. Men are ranked No. 6 in the world by the FIVB. Its only World League title came in 2008. It has finished third in 2007 and 1992.
Italy is the top ranked team in the pool at No. 3. It has won World League eight times, the last time in 2000. It last medaled when it finished second in 2004. The U.S. Men have a record of 23-39 against Italy going back to 1981. The U.S. went 3-1 against Italy in pool play during the 2009 World League, but fell to the Europeans at the 2010 World Championship.
Korea is ranked No. 20 in the world and has never medaled at World League. The U.S. Men are 45-7 against Korea since 1981 and last faced the Asian side in 2007 when the U.S. Men defeated them in three sets at the FIVB World Cup.
France is ranked No. 21 in the world. France won its only World League medal in 2006 when it finished second. The U.S. Men are 37-16 against France since 1981. The teams last met at the 2012 FIVB World Championship where the U.S. Men won in three sets.
Among teams in other pools, Russia, ranked No. 2 in the world, is the defending World League champion. It also won the 2011 FIVB World Cup. Brazil leads all countries with nine World League titles.
To reach the FIVB World League web site, click here.
To reach the USA Volleyball World League web site, click here.
U.S. World League Roster for May 18-20 in Florence, Italy
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)
9. Ryan Millar (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Utah, BYU)
10. Riley Salmon (L, 6-6, League City, Texas, Pierce College)
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)
15. Gabe Gardner (Opp, 6-8, San Clemente, Calif., Stanford)
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: Gary Sato (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: John Speraw (Irvine, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Ron Larsen (Lafayette, Calif.)
Technical Coordinator: Chris Jackson (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Medical Support: Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)
U.S. World League Schedule/Results
(All times PT unless noted)
In Florence, Italy
May 18 at 8 a.m. USA vs. France
May 19 at 8 a.m. USA vs. Korea
May 20 at 11:30 a.m. USA vs. Italy
In Lyon, France
June 15 at 9:30 a.m. USA vs. Italy
June 16 at 8 a.m. USA vs. Korea
June 17 at 9 a.m. USA vs. France
In Gwangju, Korea
June 22 at 12:30 a.m. USA vs. Italy
June 23 at 12:30 a.m. USA vs. France
June 24 at 12:30 a.m. USA vs. Korea
In Dallas, Texas
June 29 at 7:30 p.m. CT USA vs. Korea
June 30 at 7:30 p.m. CT USA vs. France
July 1 at 7:30 p.m. CT USA vs. Italy