COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 21, 2016) – Four Olympic veterans, including two gold medalists, join eight newcomers on the U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team that will compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) has been named to his fourth Olympic team while middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) will join his third. Both players won gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
It will be the second trip to the Games for opposite Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), the four-time USAV Men’s Indoor Athlete of the Year and MVP of the 2015 FIVB World Cup, and middle blocker David Smith (Saugus, Calif.).
First-time Olympic team members are setters Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii) and Kawika Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii), libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii), outside hitters Thomas Jaeschke (Wheaton, Ill.), Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) and Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.), middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) and opposite Murphy Troy (St. Louis, Mo.).
Assembling the team has been a four-year process, U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said.
“I felt the team dynamic we’ve had the entire (Olympic) quadrennial has been great,” he said. “This is a tight-knit group. They are empathetic to the situation of teammates who don’t get to go to the Games. But now we have an opportunity to focus on the task at hand.”
The average age of the team is 27.8 and there are nine players younger than 30 on the roster. Speraw knows a lack of experience will be one of this team’s greatest challenges.
“The goal is to make sure we are the best team we can be in Rio,” Speraw said. “In order for us to achieve our goal, we are going to need one of the greatest collective efforts in USAV history. We don’t have the experience that past teams have had. For us to go through this is going to require all of us to be at our very best.”
At 38, Priddy will be the senior member of the team and only the second U.S. men’s volleyball player to play in four Olympic Games after setter Lloy Ball (Fort Wayne, Ind.). Priddy’s hopes for a fourth Olympics were almost derailed in 2014 when he tore his ACL. But after double knee surgery (doctors used a ligament from his good knee to repair the damaged one) he has worked hard to return to the court in top form.
Speraw brings his own Olympic experience to the table, having served as an assistant coach at the Games in Beijing (2008) and London (2012). Erik Sullivan will serve as team leader. Sullivan is a two-time Olympian who is now an assistant women’s volleyball coach at the University of Texas.
“Erik Sullivan is one of my best friends who also is a great volleyball mind,” Speraw said. “He brings a perspective and thought process that is respected by me and everyone on staff.”
Speraw has built a dedicated staff over the past three years, including assistant coaches Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall, technical coordinator Nate Ngo, sports psychologist Andrea Becker and athletic trainer Aaron Brock. Springfield men’s volleyball coach Charlie Sullivan and former U.S. Men’s technical coordinator Anton Brams will serve as scout coaches. David Dantes will provide technical support.
The U.S. Men qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games by winning the 2015 FIVB World Cup.
The U.S. Men have qualified for 10 previous Olympic Games: 1964, ’68, ’84, ’88, ’92, ’96, 2000, ’04, ’08 and ’12. They won the Olympic gold medal in 1984, ’88 and 2008 and won bronze in 1992. The U.S. Men finished tied for fifth at the 2012 Olympic Games.
The U.S. Men will begin play in the 2016 Olympic Games on Aug. 7 against Canada.
The team is playing this weekend (June 24-26) in the FIVB World League in Rome and will be back in the U.S. on July 1-3 to play World League matches in Dallas.
All athlete and staff nominations to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee.
U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team Roster
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)
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, 6-7, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Leader: Erik Sullivan
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Sports Psychologist: Andrea Becker
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Scout Coach: Anton Brams
Scout Coach: Charlie Sullivan
Technical Support: David Dantes