U.S. Men Face World League Rematch with Japan

July 26, 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. (July 26, 2006) – The U.S. Men’s National Team is back in pool-play action at the 2006 FIVB World League this weekend and it is facing a very familiar foe: Japan.

The two teams played just last weekend in Hiroshima, Japan, and the U.S. Men improved their standings in World League Pool A on July 22-23 from last to second by winning both matches. In fact, the United States swept six straight games from the Japanese, winning by scores of 25-15, 25-22, 25-17on July 22 and 25-12, 25-21, 25-18 on July 23.

It was a far cry from the first weekend of World League, when the U.S. Men dropped two straight matches to Poland at the “E” Center in Salt Lake City, Utah (July 14: 22-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23 and July 15: 26-24, 25-13, 20-25, 25-22).

But the United States knows that Japan is going to come back strong when the two teams meet at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., on July 29-30. The games will start at 7 p.m. CDT each night and will be shown live on CSTV.

“(Japan) clearly didn’t play as well as it could have,” said U.S. outside hitter Jim Polster (Laguna Niguel, Calif.), who lived in St. Paul, Minn., until he was 17 years old. “They’re a much better team than that. They’re going to make some adjustments.”

“It’s always tough playing the same team for four straight matches,” U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said. “There’s a possibility that some complacency could come into it.

“I think our guys know that if we don’t step on the court and bring our best game, Japan could beat us.”

One big change between the first weekend and the second for the United States was its starting lineup. David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) and Phil Eatherton (Glencoe, Mo.) started at middle blocker and David McKenzie (Littleton, Colo.) joined the starting lineup at opposite. McCutcheon is not planning any changes in the lineup for Minneapolis. The other starters are Polster, Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.), Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) at setter. Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) is the U.S. libero.

Priddy has led the U.S. in kills in every World League match so far. Ryuji Naohiro and Yusuke “Gottsu” Ishijima led Japan in the two matches in Hiroshima.