U.S. Men Begin World League Journey in Finland

June 12, 2008, 11:09 p.m. (ET)

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

ANAHEIM, Calif. (June 12, 2008) - The U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team, ranked third in the world, begins its 2008 World League quest on June 13-14 in Espoo, Finland (both matches are at 8:30 a.m. PDT. Live scoring is available on the FIVB World League Web site at www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2008).

Finland and the United States are in the World League Pool C along with Bulgaria and Spain.

The U.S. Men won the World League bronze medal in 2007, but repeating or improving on that feat will not be easy, U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said.

"We are excited to get started with the World League competition. Like all the teams, I'm sure, we wish we had more time to train," McCutcheon said. "Finland is a good team. We expect it to be a difficult weekend."

McCutcheon has said that he will use the early World League matches to help determine his Olympic 12-man roster, which must be decided by July 1.

The U.S. Men have a 13-1 record so far this season, with the only loss coming to China at the Four Nations' Tournament in Germany, which Team USA still won. The U.S. Men also won the NORCECA Men's Continental Qualifier in January in Puerto Rico and, most recently, a young U.S. Men's team won the Pan American Cup in Winnipeg.

The United States has not played Finland since 1984. In fact, the last time the teams played, it was as part of a tournament in Banska Bystrica, Czechoslovakia, a country that does not exist anymore. Banska Bystrica is now part of Slovakia. In the days long before rally scoring, the United States won that match 15-13, 15-9, 15-5.

The two teams also played five times in 1983 - four times in Finland as part of the Michelob Light Friendship Cup, and once the Soviet Union at the Savvine Invitational Tournament. The U.S. Men won all five matches, giving them a 6-0 record against Finland heading into the 2008 FIVB World League.

Finland first played in the FIVB World League in 1993, when it finished 12th. It did not play in World League again until 2006, when it tied for seventh with Korea and the United States with a 4-8 record. In 2007, it tied for seventh again, this time with Cuba, with a 7-5 record.

Now ranked 22nd in the world, Finland has been making moves to climb the ladder.

Italian Mauro Berruto, who had coached in the Italian A1 League and also served as an assistant coach for Italy's national team, was brought on to coach Finland's men's team in February 2005. Among Finland's recent top players have been outside hitter Mikko Oivanen, setter Mikko Esko and outside hitter and team captain Tuomas Sammelvuo.

While Finland has had its struggles, it does seem to be improving. After never finishing better than seventh at the European Championship, it finished fourth in 2007.

Berruto is expecting his team's World League experience to be challenging.

"This year we have the World League again as our main goal," Berrto said. "We will face three teams from the top of the world: USA, Bulgaria and Spain. Our pool is like a mini Olympics. USA and Bulgaria will play in Beijing and Spain is the current European Champion. This is the hardest pool we have ever played in the World League. This will give us a great opportunity to develop our team again better and better."

WORLD LEAGUE TICKETS: Tickets for the FIVB World League matches in Hoffman Estates, Ill. (June 20-21 vs. Bulgaria), Green Bay, Wis. (June 27-28 vs. Finland) and Bloomington, Ill. (July 11-12 vs. Spain) are now on sale. To purchase tickets, go to the USA Volleyball World League site at www.usavolleyball.org/national/08WL.asp.

View the U.S. Men's World League Media Guide at www.usavolleyball.org/media/national/08WL_MNTMediaGuide.pdf.

The U.S. World League site is www.usavolleyball.org/national/08WL.asp.

The FIVB World League site is www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2008.

2008 FIVB World League

U.S. Roster for June 13-14
4 David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
5 Rich Lambourne (L, 6-3, Tustin, Calif., BYU)
6 Phil Eatherton (MB, 6-9, Glencoe, Mo., Ball State)
8 Reid Priddy (OH, 6-5, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
9 Ryan Millar (MB, 6-8, Palmdale, Calif., BYU)
C 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 Gabe Gardner (Opp, 6-9, San Clemente, Calif., Stanford)
16 Brandon Taliaferro (S, 6-5, San Clemente, Calif., UCLA)
17 Delano Thomas (MB, 6-7, Sacramento, Calif., Hawai'i)
18 Scott Touzinsky (OH, 6-6, St. Louis, Mo., Long Beach State)

Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon
Team Manager: Marv Dunphy
Assistant Coach: Ron Larsen
Assistant Coach: John Speraw
Team Doctor: Michael Terry
Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock

FIVB 2008 World League Pools (click on link to view team profile):

Pool A: Brazil, France, Serbia, Venezuela
Pool B: Russia, Cuba, Korea, Italy
Pool C: USA, Bulgaria, Spain, Finland
Pool D: Poland, Japan, China, Egypt.

U.S. World League Schedule

Date: June 13-14
Opponent: Finland
Location: Helsinki, Finland (LänsiAuto Arena)

Date: June 20-21 (7 p.m. local both nights)
Opponent: Bulgaria
Location: Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Date: June 27-28 (7 p.m. local both nights)
Opponent: Finland
Location: Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis.

Date: July 4 and 6
Opponent: Spain
Location: Madrid, Spain

Date: July 11-12 (7 p.m. local both nights)
Opponent: Spain
Location: U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, Ill.

Date: July 18-19
Opponent: Bulgaria
Location: Varna, Bulgaria

Date: July 23-27
Event: World League Final (must qualify)
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil