Beal Blog: Six Days in Hiroshima

By Doug Beal | Sept. 14, 2015, 7 a.m. (ET)

USA Volleyball CEO Doug Beal joined the U.S. Men’s National Team for its first five matches at the FIVB World Cup in Hiroshima.

A brief update on the first leg of the men’s FIVB World Cup:

The U.S. Men have done exactly what they would have hoped during the five matches played so far; winning all five and losing only a single set to host JPN. They have defeated AUS, JPN, CAN, ITA and EGY.FIVB World Cup

The tourney now has two days off as teams move to their next city. The USA goes from Hiroshima to Osaka tomorrow and will play VEN, IRI and TUN starting on the 16th before heading to Tokyo for their final three matches with POL, RUS and ARG on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd. The team and staff know that some of their strongest opponents are in front of them, but they have also played some very good volleyball thus far. This very young team has improved and can compete and win against anyone in the world. 

As you would expect, the standings are very close, with only the USA and POL undefeated so far. RUS, ITA have one loss each, then ARG and JPN with two losses each. It would not be surprising to see this event come down to the last day or two before determining the top two finishers who will earn the two berths to the Rio Olympics. 

This is a very young USA team, with three starters who have finished college within a year. The team is getting better as the summer has gone along. The offense has been very strong, and the serving and blocking seem to be improving match by match. This has been an extraordinarily busy summer and we still have teams playing. Our Men’s Junior Team is at the FIVB World Championship in MEX. The U.S. Women’s Team will soon head to MEX also for the NORCECA Championship. We had beach teams competing in three different events this past weekend. We have just started the women’s collegiate season and the ’15-’16 USAV season is right around the corner. With the Rio Olympic Games starting Aug. 5 of this coming summer, and the qualifying heating up both indoor and on the sand, the events, prep, pressure and action is almost non-stop.

The World Cups have become a tradition and an institution here in Japan. The home teams are very popular and supported win or lose. The TV ratings are strong and the crowds large for the Japan matches. It could easily take going undefeated or having only a single loss to qualify. The teams at the top are very close.

I’ll be returning home before the men play again, but BJ Evans will continue her reporting of the event and Board Chair Lori Okimura is also here following the team. Most of the USA matches are broadcast by Universal and I hope you get a chance to watch this team fight for an Olympic berth! 

HiroshimaHere’s a couple of quick numbers to point up the team’s performances so far; in the five matches, USA has 48 serving aces to 15 for our opponents; we have 44 stuff blocks to 12 for our opponents! 

It would be inappropriate for me to end without a comment on this unique city and the very moving, sobering and somber memorial to the atomic bombing here in 1945 – both the single remaining building (the “Bomb Dome”), and the memorial park and memorial museum. I have been here five or six times, including on the anniversary of the bombing and visited the park, and museum several times. Our hotel is within a short couple of blocks from the sites and you can see both from my hotel window. I am always struck by how this city has been rebuilt, how the people here see this memorial and quite stark reminder daily and how the world is constantly reinventing itself and how life can and does inexorably move forward.

Hiroshima

I also had an opportunity while here to address a group of coaches who are just starting a Japanese Volleyball Coaches Association modeled after our own AVCA (in fact they consulted with Kathy DeBoer to fashion their own organization). Quite interesting that a country with such a rich volleyball history and culture didn’t have this kind of coaches organization till now. The meeting/clinic was held at the facility of one of the professional clubs (Japan Tobacco) and the gym/facility is named after the very famous Japanese setter from their gold medal winning 1972 team: Katsutoshi Nekoda. He has been gone for some years, and they have a beautiful wall relief of his image and face that is quite striking. 

All in all, a memorable week here and terrific start to the tourney for the U.S. Men!   DB