USA Volleyball Features U.S. Men Begin Next ...

U.S. Men Begin Next Quest for Championship

By BJ Evans | Aug. 27, 2014, 6:47 p.m. (ET)

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 27, 2014) – Five weeks after winning the second FIVB World League title in the team’s history, the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team will begin its quest for a second FIVB World Championship title on Aug. 31 in Krakow, Poland.

The U.S. Men's Volleyball Team
  The U.S. Men celebrate during the World League Final Round.

The U.S. Men, ranked No. 4 in the world, will open the World Championship in Pool D against No. 24 Belgium on Sunday, Aug. 31 at 10:30 a.m. ET. (U.S. World Championship matches will be shown LIVE on BeIN Sports TV and online. Check your local listings for more information.)

The U.S. Men last won a World Championship in 1986 in Paris, two years after winning their first Olympic gold medal in Los Angeles. The United States won the bronze medal at the 1994 World Championship in Athens.

U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said winning the World League title does not mean the U.S. Men are the World Championship favorites.

“I think the most important thing about World League is what we learned about what we need to do to continue to improve,” he said. “The thing I take from World League is a sense of optimism, but also the knowledge that we have a long way to go.

“We have, for sure, the most challenging pool opening up World Champs.”

After Belgium, the U.S. Men will play No. 11 Iran (Sept. 2 at 7 a.m. ET), No. 21 Puerto Rico (Sept. 4 at 7 a.m. ET), No. 13 France (Sept. 6 at 7 a.m. ET) and No. 3 Italy (Sept. 7 at 2:15 p.m. ET).

Overall, Speraw said, world No. 1 Brazil and No. 3 Russia are still the teams to beat.

“I still think Russia (ranked No. 2 in the world) has proven to be a top team in the world,” Speraw said. “I think the teams at the top on any given day are better than most. We played well against (world No. 1) Brazil in the World League final, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t one of the top teams in the world.

“If we have any hope of breaking into the top group, we are going to have to play at a high level more consistently, and we have not yet reached that place.”

At the beginning of the season, the team no doubt expected that 2008 gold medalist outside hitters Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) and Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.) would be a big part of the World Championship team. However Priddy tore his ACL during the first weekend of World League and Rooney is also injured. Leaving them off the roster.

That puts to focus on 2012 Olympian Matt Anderson, who has played both opposite and outside hitter this season and emerged from World League as the leading scorer.

A happy surprise for the U.S. Men has been the emergence of outside hitter Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who was named World League MVP in his first season with the senior team, shortly after finishing his eligibility with BYU.

“I’m just going to have fun and be myself,” Sander said of World Championships. “Just because I won that award, I don’t think anything has changed. I still think I need to get a lot better. That’s how I am going to approach it.”

Middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.), a two-time Olympian who won a gold medal in 2008, will serve as team captain and provide veteran leadership. Other 2012 Olympians on the roster are outside hitter Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) and middle blocker David Smith (Saugus, Calif.). Both players have proven they can come through when called.

There are a total of 24 teams competing, split up into four pools of six teams. The top four teams from each pool advance to the second round. The top three teams from each of the two second-round pools advance to the third round.

The top two teams from each of those pools will play in the semifinals. The third-place teams will play for fifth place.

U.S. Men Go 1-1 in Friendly Matches with Germany

The U.S. Men are spending the week before the World Championship training and competing with the German National Team.

On Tuesday, the teams played a friendly match in Leipzig with the U.S. Men winning 25-22, 25-17, 18-25, 25-23.

The U.S. led in kills (48-43) and aces (6-5) while Germany led in blocks (11-9).

Outside hitter Taylor Sander led the U.S. in scoring with 16 points on 15 kills and one block. Outside hitter Garrett Muagututia (Oceanside, Calif.) added 13 points on 13 attacks. Middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati) totaled 12 points on seven attacks, two blocks and a match-high three aces.

Opposite Carson Clark (Santa Barbara, Calif.) scored 11 points on nine attacks, one block and one ace. Middle blocker David Lee added six points on one kill, a match-high four blocks and one ace. Setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii) had five points on three kills, one block and one ace.

Sander was credited with 33 receptions, 61 percent positive. Muagututia had 21 receptions, 57 percent positive. Libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii) added 15 receptions, 73 percent positive.

Denis Kaliberda paced Germany with 18 points on 16 kills, one block and one ace.

On Aug. 27, the two teams played a second friendly match in Nordhausen, which Germany won, 25-15, 21-25, 15-25, 25-21, 15-13.

U.S. Head Coach John Speraw started Christenson at setter, Clark at opposite, Tony Ciarelli (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) at outside hitter, David Smith and Nick Vogel (San Diego, Calif.) at middle blocker and Alfee Reft (Oxnard, Calif.) at libero.

U.S. Roster for the FIVB World Championship
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (OH/Opp, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
6. Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
10. Tony Ciarelli (OH, 6-6, Huntington Beach, Calif., USC)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
19. Alfee Reft (L, 5-10, Oxnard, Calif., Hawaii)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
21. Nick Vogel (MB, 6-9, San Diego, Calif., UCLA)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Manager: Andrea Becker 
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Technical Coordinator: Anton Willert
Consultant Coaches: Tyler Hildebrand, Kathy DeBoer, Tim Pelot
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Doctors: David Dyck and Christopher Lee

2014 FIVB World Championship Pool D
Belgium
France
Iran
Italy
Puerto Rico
USA

2014 FIVB World Championship Schedule – Pool D
Kraków, Poland (all times ET)

Aug. 31
7 a.m. Italy vs Iran
10:30 a.m. Belgium vs USA
2:15 p.m. Puerto Rico vs France

Sept. 2
7 a.m. USA vs Iran
10:30 a.m. Belgium vs Puerto Rico
2:15 p.m. France vs Italy

Sept. 4
7 a.m. Puerto Rico vs USA
10:30 a.m. Iran vs France
2:15 p.m. Italy vs Belgium

Sept. 6
7 a.m. USA vs France

Related Athletes

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Matt Anderson

Olympic
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Micah Christenson

Olympic
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Carson Clark

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Max Holt

Olympic
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David Lee

Olympic
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Paul Lotman

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Garrett Muagututia

Volleyball
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Taylor Sander

Olympic
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Erik Shoji

Olympic
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Kawika Shoji

Olympic
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David Smith

Olympic