U.S. World League Roster Features Four Top Setters

May 06, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
B.J. Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org

ANAHEIM, Calif. (May 5, 2008) - USA Volleyball has announced the 19-man roster that will be used for this summer's FIVB World League tournament. The FIVB World League consists of 16 of the top international men's volleyball teams playing in four groups of four over six weekends, with each team playing two home matches and two away against each other team in the pool. At the end of the six weeks, the four pool winners, plus the final-round host country and a wild-card pick compete in the final round. The U.S. Men placed third in the 2007 FIVB World League.

The 19-man World League roster is a pool from which U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon can pick 12 players before each weekend of World League. This year's World League pool-play matches take on a greater significance as McCutcheon and his staff determine the 12-man roster for the 2008 Olympic Games. The roster must be submitted to the U.S. Olympic Committee by July 1.

"We want to make sure we're taking the best team to Beijing," said McCutcheon, adding that this year's World League roster has not changed much from last year's. "I like the group that we have. Certainly they have proven themselves over the last season. We didn't see any need to make drastic changes. We just want to try and keep making improvements with the group that we have."

The 2008 roster includes four setters, which highlights the wealth of talent the team has at the position. Lloy Ball (Woodburn, Ind.) has played for the United States in the last three Olympics. Although he announced he was retiring from the U.S. Men's Team after the Athens Games, he returned to the team last summer and has said he would like to play in one more Olympic Games. Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) was the backup setter to Ball in Athens and moved into the starting role in 2005-06. However in March of 2007, Suxho partially tore his Achilles tendon while playing in Italy and was forced to sit out the season. Now he is looking to get his position back. Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.) joined the team in 2006 and was a backup to Suxho in the 2006 World League. After Suxho was injured in 2007, Hansen shared the World League setting duties with Brandon Taliaferro (San Clemente, Calif.). Hansen ended up starting the United States' final five pool play matches and the final-round matches in Poland, where the team won the bronze medal. He went on to start for the United States at the Pan American Games, where it won the silver medal. When Ball rejoined the team for the Americas' Cup in August, Hansen moved to the backup position and stayed there for the 2007 NORCECA Championship, the 2007 FIVB World Cup and the 2008 NORCECA Olympic Qualifier. Taliaferro was Suxho's backup setter for the 2006 World Championship and shared setting duties with Hansen for the 2007 World League. He was Hansen's backup for the 2007 Pan American Games, but did not travel with the team again once Ball returned.

"We have some good setters and obviously, with Donnie being healthy, we want to make sure he has a chance to compete for a spot," McCutcheon said. "Kevin has done very well for us in the last couple years. Brandon's had a nice season in Europe and he's come back better. Lloy's certainly in that mix as a veteran of three Olympics."

One player making his debut on a U.S. Men's roster is opposite Evan Patak (Pleasanton, Calif.), who finished up his collegiate career at UC Santa Barbara in 2007. Patak has played for the United States at the World University Games in 2003 and 2007.

"Evan's primary role would be as a serving substitute," McCutcheon said. "He's very good from the service line. He could perhaps get some work at opposite as well. Middle Delano Thomas could also come in as a serving specialist."

Three players on the roster are veterans of more than one Olympics. Besides Ball and Suxho, eight other players on the World League roster have Olympic experience. Veteran middle blockers Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.) and Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.; U.S. team captain) have each played in the last two Olympics. Middle blocker Phil Eatherton (Glencoe, Mo.), outside hitters Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) and Riley Salmon (League City, Texas) and opposites Brook Billings (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Gabe Gardner (San Clemente, Calif.) and Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawai'i) all played for the United States at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

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.

2008 U.S. Men's World League Roster
1 Lloy Ball (S, 6-8, Woodburn, Ind., Indiana-Purdue, Fort Wayne)
2 Sean Rooney (OH, 6-9, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
3 Evan Patak (Opp, 6-8, Pleasanton, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
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)
7 Donald Suxho (S, 6-5, Korce, Albania, USC bv)
8 Reid Priddy (OH, 6-5, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
9 Ryan Millar (MB, 6-8, Palmdale, Calif., BYU)
10 Riley Salmon (OH, 6-6, League City, Texas, Pierce College)
11 Brook Billings (Opp, 6-5, Santa Barbara, Calif., USC)
12 C Tom Hoff (MB, 6-8, Park Ridge, Ill., Long Beach State)
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)
19 Alfee Reft (L, 5-10, Oxnard, Calif., Hawai'i)

Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon
Team Manager: Marv Dunphy
Assistant Coach: Ron Larsen
Assistant Coach: John Speraw
Team Doctor: William Briner, Jr.
Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock