KRAKOW, Poland (Aug. 30, 2014) – The 2014 FIVB Men’s World Championship began Saturday as 62,000 fans watched the Polish team defeat Serbia at the National Stadium in Warsaw.
At a press conference held on Saturday in Krakow for the captains and coaches playing in Pool D, U.S. Men’s Volleyball Head Coach John Speraw (Los Angeles) praised Poland’s great support of volleyball.
| Someone seems to have come between David Lee and
John Speraw at the FIVB press conference on Saturday.
“We always have such a great time competing in Poland,” Speraw said. “For me, personally, my very first summer with the National Team as an assistant coach was in 2007 and we played in the World League finals in Katowice. When I saw the crowds for the first time in Spodek Arena, I couldn’t believe what was happening there.”
The U.S. Men, ranked No. 4 in the world, will open the World Championship against No. 24 Belgium on Sunday 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.)
“We have an immense amount of respect for all the teams we’re going to be competing against,” Speraw said. “We’re not looking forward beyond our match against Belgium because we know how difficult that first match will be. And then we will move on to the second one from there.”
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At the same press conference on Saturday, U.S. Team Captain David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) was asked about the team’s training session near the Vistula River, which runs through Krakow.
Lee said that the team had seen the “fire-breathing dragon.” A metal statue of the “Dragon of Wawel Hill,” from a Polish folk tale, sits near the river.
The press conference moderator asked Lee if he had “sent the dragon a message,” to which Lee replied, jokingly, “Don’t burn me, please.”
What Lee didn’t know is that people sending a text message to a certain number can cause the dragon to breathe fire.
LOTMAN LOOKS BACK
Outside hitter Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) is playing on his second straight World Championship team. We asked the 2012 Olympian what he remembered most about the 2010 World Championship in Italy, where the U.S. Men advanced to the third round, but suffered a tough loss to Italy and ended up finishing sixth after a loss to Russia in the fifth-place match.
“We didn’t play that great throughout the tournament,” he said. “We had to win some tough matches against Mexico and Cameroon. But we still had a good draw and we still had a good chance to go to the semifinal. We were right there, so close and we didn’t do it. This tournament is going to be different I think. We are in a much more difficult pool and our road to the semifinals is a lot harder. But we’re just going to have to get a good start.”<