U.S. Men Hit the Road for World League

July 20, 2006, 12 a.m. (ET)
ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 20, 2006) - The U.S. Men's National Team will play its first "away" matches of FIVB World League competition on July 22-23 at the Hiroshima Green Arena in Hiroshima, Japan. The games will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday in Japan, which translates to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 p.m. Saturday, PDT.

The U.S. men find themselves in last place in Pool A after losing two straight matches to Poland on July 14-15 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Poland leads the Pool at 2-0 while Japan and Serbia & Montenegro are each 1-1 after splitting their weekend matches.

Japan meanwhile has some momentum after beating Serbia & Montenegro, ranked third in the world, in three games in their opening match on July 15 in Tokyo. Serbia & Montenegro came back to win 3-1 in the second match. Japan went into World League play ranked 12th in the world.

"We've been preparing for Japan specifically this week," said U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon. "They play a different type of offense (from Poland)."

"But our bigger issue is for us to step up and play at the level we know we can. That was the most disappointing thing about the losses to Poland. We weren't playing at our highest level."

The look of the U.S. team will be different as David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) takes over at middle blocker for Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.) whose wife is having their first child. David McKenzie (Littleton, Colo.) has also been added to the roster at opposite, replacing Brook Billings (Santa Barbara, Calif.).

The U.S. team will miss usual starting outside hitter Riley Salmon (League City, Texas), who continues to rehabilitate an injured shoulder.

The U.S. men have won the last four meetings between the two teams. Their last meeting was at the 2005 World Grand Champions Cup in Japan, where the U.S men won 3-1 (25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23). The United States holds a 127-59 advantage going back to 1981.

"We played quite well in the World Grand Champions Cup in Japan at the end of last year, and, under head coach Tatsuya Ueta, we have trained hard on the fundamental skills," said Yu Koshikawa, 22, Japan's best scorer in the double-header against Serbia & Montenegro, with 40 kills and aces. "In addition to that, we have some young players this season. So overall we are getting better."

An important addition to the Japanese squad this year is Yusuke Ishijima. The burly outside hitter who carries his nickname from junior high school, "Gottsu" (meaning 'strong' or 'tough'), on the back of his No. 16 shirt, supported Koshikawa with 30 points last weekend, 22 of them in the second game.

Japan's veteran captain, Masaji Ogino, who was on the roster last weekend but did not play in either match due to a right hand injury, has been replaced on the 12-man roster by southpaw Takahiro Yamamoto, who has recovered from a slight back problem. Akira Masuno comes in at libero for Katsutoshi Tsumagari in the only other change.

For more U.S. World League information, go to http://www.usavolleyball.org/National/06worldLeague.asp

The FIVB World League web site is http://www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2006/

U.S. Roster
USA at Japan
July 22-23, 2006 in Hiroshima, Japan
(Twelve-man rosters can be updated between World League weekends)

1. David Lee (MB, Alpine, Calif.)
2 Pieter Olree (OH, Reading, Pa.)
3 Jim Polster (OH, Laguna Niguel, Calif.)
5 Rich Lambourne (L, Tustin, Calif.)
6 Phil Eatherton (MB, Glencoe, Mo.)
7 Donald Suxho (S, Korce, Albania)
8 Reid Priddy (OH, Richmond, Va.)
12 Tom Hoff (MB, Park Ridge, Ill.)
13 Clay Stanley (OPP, Honolulu, Hawaii)
14 Kevin Hansen (S, Newport Beach, Calif.)
15 Gabe Gardner (OH, San Clemente, Calif.)
16 Dave McKienzie (OPP, Littleton, Colo.)

U.S. World League Schedule

Date: July 14-15
Opponent: Poland
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah - The "E" Center
Match 1: Poland defeats USA 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23)
Match 2: Poland defeats USA 3-1 (26-24, 25-13, 20-25, 25-22)

Date: July 22-23
Opponent: Japan
Location: Hiroshima Green Arena

Date: July 29-30
Opponent: Japan
Location: Minneapolis, Minn. - Target Center

Date: Aug. 4-5
Opponent: Serbia & Montenegro
Location: Spokane, Wash. - Spokane Memorial Arena

Date: Aug. 12-13
Opponent: Poland
Location: Katowice - Spodek

Date: Aug. 18-19
Opponent: Serbia & Montenegro
Location: Beograd - Hall Pionir

World League Final
Date: Aug. 23-27
Location: Russia

2006 World League Pools

Pool A-Japan, Poland, Serbia and Montenegro, USA
Pool B-Argentina, Brazil, Finland, Portugal
Pool C-China, France, Italy, Russia
Pool D-Bulgaria, Cuba, Egypt, Korea