U.S. Men Hope to be Big in Japan

June 21, 2007, 12 a.m. (ET)
B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800

ANAHEIM, Calif. (June 21, 2007) - In 2006, the U.S. Men's Volleyball Team held the FIVB World League pool lead, only to see it disappear during its final two road matches in Poland and Serbia.

The U.S. Men have a chance to make up for last year during their final four 2007 World League pool play matches in Japan and Italy. The road trip gets started at 10 p.m. PDT on Friday (2 p.m. Saturday in Japan) when the United States will face Japan at the Kumamoto Prefectural Gymnasium. Kumamoto is on Kyushu Island in southern Japan.

Live scoring and statistics are available on the FIVB World League web site at www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2007/LiveScore/?sm=121.

Team USA leads Pool B with a 6-2 record coming off a two-match sweep of Italy on June 15-16 in Chicago. Japan is last in the pool at 1-5 and is coming off two losses to host France. After losing the first match 3-0 (25-19 25-22 25-20), Japan came back tough in the second match and lost 3-2 (25-13 25-19 22-25 20-25 15-12).

The United States already defeated Japan twice on June 1-2 in Green Bay, Wis., winning each match by a score of 3-1 (June 1: 25-17, 23-25, 27-25, 25-19; June 2: 20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-18).

France, which sits in second place in Pool B at 5-3, will play two home matches this weekend against an Italian team that has been hobbled by illness and injuries.

But the U.S. Men are trying to focus on their own play and not worry so much about he competition.

"I think for us it's better to focus on our side of the net," U.S. Team Captain Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.) said. "We shouldn't spend time or energy on what (the opponent) is going to do."

U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) has taken the same 12 players to Japan and Italy that he used in Chicago, where he changed the starting lineups between matches.

McCutcheon has said repeatedly that he is using World League to evaluate players and rotations in preparation for Olympic qualifying. However, he has also said that he wants to win.

"I was very happy with this group," McCutcheon said following the second victory over Italy. "Having guys who have been around the block makes a difference."

The United States already defeated Japan twice on June 1-2 in Green Bay, Wis., winning each match by a score of 3-1 (June 1: 25-17, 23-25, 27-25, 25-19; June 2: 20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-18).

Two members of Japan's 2006 FIVB World Championship squad have returned for this weekend's matches. Libero Katsutoshi Tsumagari (6-foot-0) and middle blocker Kota Yamamura (6-7) have been included in Japan's 12-man roster for the first time this season. Tsumagari comes in for Osamu Tanabe, and Yamamura completes a full roster after Japan played in France last weekend with only 11 players following an injury in training to Ryu Morishige.

Outside hitter Yusuke Ishijima (6-5) is leading Japan in scoring with 90 points on 79 kills, seven blocks and four aces. Outside hitter Yu Koshikawa (6-3) is second with 82 points on 72 kills, seven aces and three blocks.

But the United States has plenty of scoring power of its own and knows that it needs to focus on making as few mistakes as possible while using its hitters and blockers to the best possible advantage.

U.S. outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) continues to lead all World League scorers with 140 points on 114 kills, 15 blocks and 11 aces. Middle blocker Ryan Millar (Palmdale, Calif.) is second among all blockers with 24 blocks on 58 attempts.

All U.S. matches and the World League finals are scheduled to be shown on ESPNU.

The U.S. World League home matches are presented by GL7, the Official Sports Drink of USA Volleyball.

Results, statistics and photos are available on the FIVB World League Web Site at www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2007.

The USA Volleyball FIVB World League web site is www.usavolleyball.org/national/wl07.asp.

The 2007 U.S. Men's media kit is available at www.usavolleyball.org/media/national/us_men_mediakit07.pdf (please note that this is a large .pdf file).

2007 FIVB World League

Standings (as of June 21, 2007)

Pool A
1 Brazil 8-0
2 Finland 5-3
3 Korea 2-6
4 Canada 1-7

Pool B
1 USA 6-2
2 France 5-3
3 Italy 2-4
4 Japan 1-5

Pool C
1 Russia 7-1
2 Cuba 5-3
3 Serbia 4-4
4 Egypt 0-8

Pool D
1 Bulgaria 8-0
2 Poland 8-0
3 China 0-8
4 Argentina 0-8

Twelve-man roster
(Teams can adjust 12-man rosters between weekends)

No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
2 Sean Rooney (OH, 6-9, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
3 Jim Polster (OH, 6-6, Laguna Niguel, Calif., Long Beach State)
4 Brandon Taliaferro (S, 6-5, San Clemente, Calif., UCLA)
5 Rich Lambourne (L, 6-3, Tustin, Calif., BYU)
6 Phil Eatherton (MB, 6-9, Glencoe, Mo., Ball State)
7 David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
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)
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 Gabe Gardner (OH, 6-9, San Clemente, Calif., Stanford)

U.S. World League Schedule
Date: May 26-27
Opponent: France
Location: Portland, Ore. - The Chiles Center Arena
Match 1: France def. USA, 3-2 (13-25, 25-19, 25-17, 24-26, 15-13)
Match 2: USA def. France, 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 22-25, 25-20)

Date: June 1-2
Opponent: Japan
Location: Green Bay, Wis. - The Resch Center
Match 1: USA def. Japan, 3-1 (25-17, 23-25, 27-25, 25-19)
Match 2: USA def. Japan, 3-1 (20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-18)

Date: June 8-9
Opponent: France
Location: Lyon, France - Palais des Gerland
Match 1: France def. USA, 3-1 (25-22, 19-25, 38-36, 25-18)
Match 2: USA def. France, 3-1 (22-25, 29-27, 25-23, 25-21)

Date: June 15-16
Opponent: Italy
Location: Chicago, Ill. - The Convocation Center
Match 1: USA def. Italy, 3-1 (25-21, 25-21, 25-27, 29-27)
Match 2: USA def. Italy, 3-0 (25-19, 30-28, 25-23)

Date: June 23-24
Opponent: Japan
Location: Kumamoto - Kumamoto Prefectural Gymnasium

Date: June 29
Opponent: Italy
Location: Napoli - PalaBarbuto

Date: July 1
Opponent: Italy
Location: Avelino - Pal Del Mauro

World League Final
Date: July 11-15
Location: Katowice, Poland