COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 6, 2016) – With the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro looming in the distance, the FIVB World League takes on special significance for the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team.
The 2016 U.S. preliminary roster for the World League includes 19 players. U.S. Head Coach John Speraw and his staff can choose 14 players from the group for each of the three weekends of World League pool play and the Final Round (July 13-17 in Poland), if the U.S. qualifies.
The U.S. coaches will be using the World League matches to help determine their roster for the 2016 Summer Games. And while the U.S. can have 14 players on the World League roster for each weekend, only 12 can go to Rio.
“I think the biggest challenge of the (Olympic quadrennial) will be choosing 12 (to go to Rio),” Speraw said. “You’re going to leave behind someone who has been shoulder-to-shoulder with these guys, potentially.”
Six players on the 2016 U.S. World League roster have been to the Olympics before, led by three-time Olympian Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) at outside hitter and two-time Olympian David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) at middle blocker. Both have gold medals from the 2008 Games in Beijing.
Veterans of just the 2012 London Games who are on the roster are opposite Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), middle blocker Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.), outside hitter Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) and middle blocker David Smith (Saugus, Calif.).
The setters on the roster are Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii), Kawika Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii) and James Shaw (Woodside, Calif.). The opposites are Anderson, Murphy Troy (St. Louis, Mo.) and newcomer Ben Patch (Provo, Utah). The outside hitters are Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.), Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.), Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.), Thomas Jaeschke (Wheaton, Ill.), Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) and Garrett Muagututia (Oceanside, Calif.).
The middle blockers on the roster are Lee, Holmes, Smith, Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Dan McDonnell (Glendale, Ariz.). The liberos are Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii) and Dustin Watten (Long Beach, Calif.).
Speraw said his biggest concern with his team heading into the 2016 World League campaign is player health. Sander and Russell came back from their Italian clubs needing some time to rest and rehab. Christenson and Jaeschke both suffered ankle injuries while in Cuba to play two friendly matches.
“Once we get all of our guys, I feel like we can start working on getting better,” Speraw said. “Obviously when we get to Rio it will be a complete team effort, so we’re looking to make little improvements that will help us in the long run.”
The U.S. Men will open World League pool play in Rio de Janeiro on June 16-18 where they will play Argentina, Iran and Brazil. They will move on to Rome on June 24-26 to play Belgium, Australia and Italy. Finally, they will end pool play in Dallas where they will face Bulgaria, Australia and Russia.
After winning the 2014 FIVB World League title, the U.S. finished third in 2015. Overall, the U.S. has won World League twice (2008, 2014), finished second once (2012) and third three times (1992, 2007, 2015)
U.S. Preliminary Roster for the 2016 FIVB World League
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (Opp, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2. Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State)
3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
5. James Shaw (S, 6-8, Woodside, Calif., Stanford)
6. Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
8. Reid Priddy (OH, 6-4, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
9. Murphy Troy (Opp, 6-8, St. Louis, Mo., Southern California)
10. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
12. Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
13. Dan McDonnell (MB, 6-6, Glendale, Ariz., UC Irvine)
15. Ben Patch (Opp, 6-8, Provo, Utah, BYU)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
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
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Team Manager: Erik Sullivan
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Medical Support: Andrea Becker
Consultant Coach: Anton Brams
2016 U.S. Schedule for the FIVB World League
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
June 16: USA v Argentina
June 17: USA v Iran
June 18: USA v Brazil
June 24: USA v Belgium
June 25: USA v Australia
June 26: USA v Italy
July 1: USA v Bulgaria
July 2: USA v Australia
July 3: USA v Russia
Final Round: July 13-17 in Krakow, Poland