U.S. Men in Serbia for World League Final Round

July 21, 2009, 5:56 p.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800

The U.S. broadcast schedule for World League, including the Final Round matches, is available here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 21, 2009) – The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team will begin its quest for a third straight FIVB World League medal on Wednesday when it takes on host Serbia (11 a.m. PT) in its first Final Round pool play match at Beogradska Arena in Belgrade.

In 2007, the U.S. Men won bronze and in 2008, they took the gold.

The 2009 season brings a new coach in Alan Knipe (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and several new starters. But the goal is the same.

“Advancing to the final round is a great way for our team to develop,” said Team Captain Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.). “Obviously, our hope is to go and win.”

Team USA advanced to the Final Round with a 9-3 record, the second best behind Brazil, which finished 11-1 in Pool D. The United States lost one match each to Finland, Italy and China.

Outside hitter Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.) has been the team’s leading scorer, and eighth overall, in pool play with 167 points on 149 kills, 15 blocks and three aces. Opposite Evan Patak (Pleasanton, Calif.) was second among U.S. players with 114 points on 91 kills, six blocks and 17 aces. Patak’s 17 aces gave him an average of 0.38 per set to put him third among all World League competitors.

Middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) has led the team in blocking and is fourth overall with 30 blocks on 80 attempts and an average of 0.67 per set.

Libero Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) leads the United States in digging with 83 digs in 162 attempts and an average of 1.84 per set. Lambourne also leads the team in receiving with 94 “excellents” and five faults in 217 attempts for an efficiency percentage of 41.01.

There will be some fierce competition hoping to block United States’ road to the podium, including three teams that last lost to Team USA at the 2008 Olympic Games – Serbia, Russia and Brazil – and are probably anxious for some payback.

“We’re going to take it one set at a time and respect the competition no matter who it is,” Knipe said.

Serbia opened its 2008 World League Final Round with a 3-0 victory over the United States that made it look like Team USA would not advance from pool play. But the U.S. Men came back to defeat Poland in the second pool play match to advance. It met Serbia again in the gold medal match, where the United States won 3-1 (26-24, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22).

The two teams played again in the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games, where the U.S. won 3-2 (20-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-18, 15-12) on its way to the gold medal. The United States is 10-11 against Serbia (previously Serbia & Montenegro and Yugoslavia) since 1981.

Serbia won Pool B this year with an 8-4 record, losing once each to France and Korea and twice to Argentina. Its leading scorers in pool play have been Bojan Janic, a 6-6 outside hitter, who has 123 points on 97 kills, 21 blocks and five aces, and Sasa Starovic, a 6-9 opposite, with 122 points on 112 kills, seven blocks and three aces. Marko Podrascanin, a 6-8 middle blocker, leads the team in blocking, and is second among all world league blockers, with an average of 0.7 per set.

The U.S. must also watch for 6-9 opposite Ivan Miljkovic, consistently one of the best players in the world.

The United States last played Russia in the semifinals of the 2008 Olympic Games, where Team USA pulled out a 3-2 (25-22, 25-21, 25-27, 22-25, 15-13) win. Russia finished second to Cuba in World League Pool C. Russia and Cuba both shared an 8-4 record, but Cuba had 26 point to Russia’s 23. Russia lost twice to Cuba in pool play and once each to Bulgaria and Japan.

The United States is 55-38 against Russia since 1981.

Russia has been led in World League scoring by 6-9 opposite Semen Poltavskiy who has 133 points on 116 kills, 11 blocks and six aces. Alexander Volkov, a 6-11 middle blocker, has 114 points on 85 kills, 22 blocks and seven aces.

Alexey Kazakov, a 7-0 middle blocker, leads Russia in blocking with 27 blocks in 108 attempts with an average of 0.6 per set.

In the other pool, seven-time World League champion Brazil looks to be the team to beat with a 9-1 record out of pool play. It lost one match to Finland. Murilo Endres, a 6-3 outside hitter, led the team in scoring in pool play with 122 points on 94 kills, 15 blocks and 13 aces.

The U.S. Men last faced Brazil in the 2008 Olympic gold medal match, which the United States won, 3-1 (20-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-23). Team USA has a 60-69 record against Brazil since 1981.

Cuba won World League Pool C with an 8-4 record. It has been led in scoring by 6-7 outside hitter Wilfredo Leon Venero, who has 171 points on 132 kills, 17 blocks and 22 aces. The United States is 71-67 against Cuba since 1981.

Argentina finished second to host Serbia in World League Pool B with a 7-5 record. It has been led in scoring by Alejandro Spajic, who has 133 points on 100 kills, 32 blocks and one ace. The United States is 39-8 against Argentina since 1981.

To visit the FIVB World League web site, click here.

For the U.S. Men's World League Media Guide, click here.

2009 U.S. World League Roster for the Final Round

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 Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7 Donald Suxho (S, 6-5, Korce, Albania, USC)
8 Andrew Hein (MB, 6-11, Carol Stream, Ill., Pepperdine)
10 David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
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)
16 Jayson Jablonsky (OH, 6-5, Yorba Linda, Calif., UC Irvine)
18 Scott Touzinsky (OH, 6-6, St. Louis, Mo., Long Beach State)
19 Alfee Reft (L, 5-10, Oxnard, Calif., Hawai'i)

Head Coach: Alan Knipe
Team Manager: Edward Rapp
Assistant Coach: Gary Sato
Trainer/Therapist: John Hawks
Technical Coordinator:
Chris Jackson
Team Doctor: Andrew Gregory
Medical Support: Aaron Brock

2009 FIVB World League Final Round Schedule

Pool E
July 22: Serbia vs. USA, 11:30 a.m. PT
July 23: USA vs. Russia, 11:30 a.m. PT
July 24: Russia vs. Serbia, 11:30 a.m. PT

Pool F
July 22: Argentina vs. Cuba, 8:30 a.m. PT
July 23: Cuba vs. Brazil, 8:30 a.m. PT
July 24: Brazil vs. Argentina, 8:30 a.m. PT

July 25: Semifinals
  Pool F Winner vs. Pool E Second Place, 8:30 a.m. PT*
  Pool E Winner vs. Pool F Second Place, 11:30 a.m. PT*
  *As host country, Serbia will always play the late match so this schedule may be reversed.

July 26: Medal Matches
  Bronze Medal, 8 a.m. PT
  Gold Medal, 11 a.m. PT