Teams Start Engines for Champions Cup

By BJ Evans | May 20, 2015, 10:33 p.m. (ET)

DETROIT, Mich. USA (May 20, 2015) – The four top-ranked NORCECA men’s volleyball teams hope to start their road to Rio de Janeiro this week at the Champions Cup in the Motor City.

The United States, ranked No. 1 in NORCECA, Cuba (No. 2), Canada (No. 3) and Mexico (No. 4) begin round-robin play Thursday (May 21) and continue Friday (May 22) and Saturday (May 23) at Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL.

NORCECA Champions Cup
   John Speraw does a TV interview at Joe Louis Arena.

At the end, the top two finishers will qualify for the FIVB World Cup on Sept. 8-23 in Japan. The top two World Cup finishers qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

CHAMPIONS CUP LIVE FEED | U.S. MEN'S HOME PAGE | MEN'S UPDATE: TV AND ONLINE

Canada enters the competition with some momentum, having beaten Cuba two nights in a row in FIVB World League competition on May 16-17. Cuba suffered injuries to two players during the matches and comes to Detroit with only 10 players.

The Champions Cup will be the first major competition of the season for the United States and Mexico.

Matches will be played at 4 and 6 p.m. each day, with the United States competing in the 6 p.m. matches against Mexico, Cuba and Canada respectively.

Matches will also be live streamed at bit.ly/NORCECACC.

U.S. Roster for NORCECA Champions Cup

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)
9. Murphy Troy (Opp, 6-8, St. Louis, Mo., Southern California)
10. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
12. Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
16. Jayson Jablonsky (OH, 6-5, Yorba Linda, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
21. Dustin Watten (L, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
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: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock

John Speraw (USA)
Detroit has been great. We haven’t had a chance to get out too much because we have been training and preparing. People here have been great. A lot of our guys have been playing professionally overseas for the last eight months. They’re finally home and they would love to take a rest. We’re asking them to get together and in two weeks get ready for a really important tournament. It’s a challenge for them. We do appreciate getting to play in front of a home crowd.

Glenn Hoag (Canada)
Our goal is to qualify for the World Cup, which is the first qualifier for the Olympics. It’s a really important event for us. We hope to get through in the top two. The guys just came back from their leagues. They were pretty successful in their league this year. We’re changing balls (from World League last weekend to NORCECA this weekend) so that adds another variable. We’re just trying to get our game going. The guys are focused, although I think some of them are pretty tired. Their focused and happy to be training together again.

Rodolfo Luis Sanchez (Cuba)
This is a unique opportunity to participate in a strong NORCECA tournament and also fight to reach the World Cup in Japan, which is the main objective. We have prepared hard to play hard against all the teams. All good teams are difficult to beat, but we can be equally good. We have 10 players available at the moment, but that will not be a problem to deliver a great show for the fans.

Juan Roberto Vilches (Mexico)
The tournament is going to be very strong. The competition is going to be hard, mostly because the U.S. is a strong team and they are playing at home with their starting lineup for the World League. Canada has a high level of competition and they have already started World League. Even Cuba, which has been restructuring, has a good team. The competition is going to be hard. All the teams have very strong squads. We bring a team that is half young members and half experienced members, which we believe can be competitive and be the surprise of the tournament.