U.S. Men Gear Up to Face Poland and Thousands of Fans

Aug. 10, 2006, 12 a.m. (ET)

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

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Aug. 10, 2006) – The U.S. Men’s National Team is on the road again for the 2006 FIVB World League, traveling to Poland this weekend and then to Serbia for matches on Aug. 18-19.

The U.S. Men, Poland and Serbia & Montenegro are all tied for first place in Pool A with records of 5-3. The U.S. Men are in first place thanks to the tie breaker, which is the points differential. Japan sits in last place in the pool at 1-7 and also has to travel to Europe over the next two weekends to play first Serbia & Montenegro and then Poland.

The U.S. Men are hoping to show improvement over their last encounter with Poland, on Aug. 14-15 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Team USA lost both matches 1-3 (Aug. 14: 25:22, 23:25, 23:25, 23:25; Aug. 15: 24:26, 13:25, 25:20, 22:25). However, since then, they have only lost one match to Serbia & Montenegro.

“This kind of competition is why we’re playing in the World League,” U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon said Aug. 4 after the loss to Serbia & Montenegro. “If we learn from a match like this and are a better team because of it, then I guess the pain of a night like this will have been worth it.”

Sure enough, the U.S. Men came back Aug. 5 and won 3-1. However, there will be more learning to do in Poland.

The U.S. matches against Poland will be played at Spodek Hall in Katowice and both matches are sold out, so there could be up to 10,000 people cheering on the Polish team at each match. The matches will be at 6:30 p.m. local time, which means they will start at 9:30 a.m. PDT (12:30 p.m. EDT) on Saturday and Sunday. The matches will not be televised, but live scoring updates will be available on the FIVB web site.

Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.) will return to the U.S. team at middle blocker following the birth of his first child. He has not played in the World League since the matches against Poland on July 14-15 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Millar will replace David Lee (Alpine, Calif.), who played in all four matches against Japan and the U.S. matches against Serbia & Montenegro.

For Poland, the only question is at middle blocker, where middle blocker Daniel Plinski is suffering from a seriously twisted ankle.

“I had problems with this ankle already two years ago. I twisted it quite seriously, there were complications and calcifications appeared,” Plinski said in a press release. “But now swelling is down and the physicians say I can play on Saturday. We know how important our matches against the Americans in Spodek Hall will be, played with full stands.”

Poland is led in scoring by 6-foot-3 outside hitter Sebastian Swiderski and 6-4 opposite Mariusz Wlazly. Swiderski has 123 points on 111 kills, eight blocks and four aces. Wlazly has 120 points on 102 kills, 10 aces and eight blocks.

For the United States, 6-4 outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) continues to lead the way with 135 points on 113 kills, 17 blocks and five aces. Outside hitter Jim Polster (Laguna Niguel, Calif.), 6-6, is second on the team with 95 points on 73 kills, 15 blocks and seven aces.