U.S. Men Look to Defend NORCECA Title

Oct. 07, 2009, 4:25 p.m. (ET)

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

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Oct. 7, 2009) – Throughout the summer of 2009, first-year U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team Head Coach Alan Knipe emphasized that the season would be a learning experience for both him and his players.

Now it is time to put the education into effect as the U.S. Men travel to Bayamon, Puerto Rico for the 2009 NORCECA Men’s Continental Championship on Oct. 12-17.

The U.S. Men, ranked third in the world and first in NORCECA, are the three-time defending champions of the event, having last won in Anaheim, Calif., in 2007. In fact, the United States and Cuba are the only two countries that have ever won the tournament.

The team that wins this year’s NORCECA Championship will qualify for the FIVB Grand Champion Cup on Nov. 18-23 in Japan.

The U.S. Men will play in Group B with Canada, Mexico and Panama while Group A will include Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Cuba has recently improved its FIVB world ranking from 18th to 12th after a fourth-place finish in the 2009 World League. Puerto Rico will enjoy a home-court advantage.

But Knipe is more concerned about how his team will play.

“A big chunk of our team has already gone to their pro clubs,” Knipe said. “The important thing for us to do is be really concerned with our side of the net and how we prepare for each opponent.”

Included on the U.S. Men’s preliminary roster for the first time this year are 2008 Olympic gold medalists outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) and middle blocker Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.). Neither has competed with the U.S. Men's Team since the Olympics. Both had been training with the team at the American Sport Center in September in Anaheim; however Priddy left to be with his Russian club team, Lokomotiv Novosibirsk, at the end of September.

Their return to the long list means that, depending on who is chosen for the final 14-man roster, the U.S. Men could have as many as 10 athletes from the 2008 Olympic and World League championship teams in Puerto Rico: Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.), Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.), Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.), David Lee (Alpine, Calif.), Millar, Priddy, Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.), Riley Salmon (League City, Texas), Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii) and Scott Touzinsky (St. Louis, Mo.).

“It’s the first time all summer that we have had the opportunity to choose our roster from almost all the guys in the program,” Knipe said. “We’re excited to get down there.”

However, there are plenty of other athletes on the roster who can contribute as well.

At setter, Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania), a 2004 Olympian, was the team’s starting setter during the 2009 World League along with Hansen. Newcomer Jonathan Winder (Irvine, Calif.) earned praise from Knipe for his performance during the team’s recent tour of Brazil.

At outside hitter, Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) was playing well in World League pool play before contracting pneumonia and saw plenty of court time during the team’s Brazil tour. Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) was the team’s leading scorer in Brazil and also played well at the 2010 FIVB World Championship Qualifier.

At middle blocker, Andy Hein (Carol Stream, Ill.) started during World League along with Lee and finished as the 12th leading blocker among all players in pool play. Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) was one of the team’s leading scorers in the recent Brazil tour.

At opposite, Evan Patak (Pleasanton, Calif.) shared starting duties at World League with Stanley and was named the MVP and Best Server of the 2010 FIVB World Championship Qualifier. Brook Billings (Santa Barbara, Calif.) is a 2004 Olympian who played in 2009 World League pool play matches.

The only players guaranteed a trip to Bayamon are Lambourne and Alfee Reft (Oxnard, Calif.) since a team must have two liberos in order to have 14 players on the roster.

NORCECA Men’s Continental Championship
Oct. 12-17 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico

U.S. Men’s Preliminary Roster
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)

1 Matt Anderson (OH, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
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 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 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 Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
16 Andy Hein (MB, 611, Carol Stream, Ill., Pepperdine)
17 Jonathan Winder (S, 6-8, Irvine, Calif., Pepperdine)
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: Bill Neville
Assistant Coach: Gary Sato
Therapist/Trainer: Charlie Sullivan
Team Doctor: Andrew Gregory
Technical Coordinator: Chris Jackson
Medical Support: Aaron Brock

Pool Play Schedule (All times PDT)
Group A
Oct. 12
3 p.m. Cuba vs. Dominican Republic
5 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. Barbados
Oct. 13
1 p.m. Barbados vs. Cuba
5 p.m. Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico
Oct. 14
1 p.m. Dominican Republic vs. Barbados
5 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. Cuba

Group B
Oct. 12
11 a.m. USA vs. Mexico
1 p.m. Canada vs. Panama
Oct. 13
11 a.m. Mexico vs. Canada
3 p.m. Panama vs. USA
Oct. 14
1 p.m. Mexico vs. Panama
3 p.m. USA vs. Canada

Past NORCECA Champions
1969: Cuba (USA, third)
1971: Cuba (USA, second)
1973: USA
1975: Cuba (USA, third)
1977: Cuba (USA, fifth)
1979: Cuba (USA, fifth)
1981: Cuba (USA, second)
1983: USA
1985: USA
1987: Cuba (USA, second)
1989: Cuba (USA, third)
1991: Cuba (USA, second)
1993: Cuba (USA, second)
1995: Cuba (USA, second)
1997: Cuba (USA, second)
1999: USA
2001: Cuba (USA, second)
2003: USA
2005: USA
2007: USA