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U.S. Men Begin 2014 World League in Bulgaria

By BJ Evans | May 21, 2014, 6:23 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 21, 2014) – After winning the NORCECA World Championship Qualifier in Colorado Springs, members of the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team went straight to Varna, Bulgaria, where they will begin the 2014 FIVB World League on May 23-24.

U.S. Men's National Team
  Reid Priddy (8) leads the U.S. Men's Team off the court.

Although they did not compete in the qualifier, U.S. players Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio), Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) and Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii) were all training in Colorado Springs to prepare for World League.

“I feel like we did get some good work in,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw (Los Angeles) said. “Most teams don’t have enough training time before World League so we’re just like everyone else.”

The U.S. Men, ranked No. 4 in the world by the FIVB, had a disappointing 12th-place finish in the 2013 World League. The United States was in first place in the pool before going on the road and losing four straight matches to Poland and Brazil.

“I’m excited. The team is better than it was last year at this time,” Speraw said. “I hope we can have a better World League. We will have to see.

TICKETS

  • June 6-7 USA vs Russia at Long Beach, Calif.: longbeachstate.com/WL, Phone: 562-985-4949
  • June 13-14 USA vs Serbia at Chicago: ticketmaster.com, Phone: 800-745-3000
  • June 20-21 USA vs Bulgaria at Hoffman Estates, Ill.: searscentre.com, Phone: 888-SEARS-TIX
  • Group Ticket Discounts for Serbia and Bulgaria matches: Call 847-649-2368
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“Obviously we have some very tough teams in our pool and I’m sure they have improved as well.”

Those teams would be Russia, ranked No. 2 in the world, No. 6 Bulgaria and No. 9 Serbia.

For 2014, there are 28 teams competing in World League, but only eight are competing in the two “power pools.” While the U.S. is competing in Pool B with Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia, Pool A includes No. 1 Brazil, No. 3 Italy, No. 5 Poland and No. 12 Iran.

The top two teams from each of the power pools will advance to the Final Round on July 16-20 in Florence, Italy, along with host Italy and the winner of the finals from pools C, D and E.

Following the Bulgaria matches, the U.S. Men will have a weekend off before playing Russia on June 6-7 at the Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif. They will follow that with two matches against Serbia at the University of Illinois at Chicago (June 13-14) and two against Bulgaria at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill. (June 20-21).

After that, they will hit the road again for two matches in Kaliningrad, Russia (June 27-28) and two more in Serbia (Novi Sad on July 4 and Beograd on July 6).

Russia is the defending Olympic champion and also won the 2013 European Championship and the 2013 World League. However it finished second to Brazil at the 2013 FIVB Grand Champions Cup.

Bulgaria finished fourth in World League in 2013 and also at the European Championship.

Serbia placed eighth at the 2013 World League and third at the European Championship.

“I’m ready to play against opponents that are world class,” U.S. middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) said. “I’m excited. I want to go to World League finals again. It’s a great tournament for us to be in to elevate our level.”   

The U.S. roster for the first two matches in Bulgaria is comprised of World League veterans, with two exceptions.

Setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii), who just finished his junior season at USC, will be making his World League debut after joining the senior U.S. Men’s Team last season for the NORCECA Championship.

Also on his first World League roster is outside hitter Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who recently finished at BYU and was the 2014 AVCA Player of the Year.

U.S. World League Roster
May 23-24 in Varna, Bulgaria

No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (OH, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2. Sean Rooney (OH, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
6. Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
8. Reid Priddy (OH, 6-4, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
12. Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Manager: Andrea Becker 
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Technical Coordinator: Anton Willert
Consultant Coach: Erik Sullivan and Mike Sealy
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Team Doctor: William Stetson


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