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U.S. Men Adopt Younger Look for World League

June 04, 2013, 8:23 p.m. (ET)

The 2013 U.S. Men's National Team for World League
  Players and staff on the U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team for the 2013 FIVB World League.
  Missing are Jayson Jablonsky and Russell Holmes

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2013 U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team World League Media Kit

2013 FIVB World League TV Schedule

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 4, 2013) – The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team, ranked No. 5 in the world by the FIVB, took second at the 2012 FIVB World League with a 12-man Final Round team with an average age of 31.1.

The average age of the 22-man roster for the 2013 FIVB World League is 27.1. If you remove Rich Lambourne (Tustin, Calif.) and David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) – the only two veterans on the roster from the 2008 U.S. Team that won World League and the Olympic gold medal – the average age drops to 25.7.

That youth will be on display on June 7-8 when the United States when the United States takes on Argentina in Wichita, Kan., in the first weekend of World League for both sides. (To purchase World League tickets, click here)

First-year U.S. Men’s Head Coach John Speraw (Irvine, Calif.) made it clear from the start that he was going to use the first World League of his tenure to assess new talent, even if it meant some growing pains; and he has followed through on that promise.

“I think it’s about turnover and who the young guys are and how much experience we can get them early,” Speraw said. “I think we’re going to have to get some new blood in here and take a look at some new young players and see what they can do, particularly early in the (quadrennial). I think the coach needs empowered to take some risks even if it means there are some early failures, because I think it’s going to mean success in the long run.”

Working with younger players has brought new enthusiasm to practices and has also made it easier for Speraw to implement change in the gym. 

“We have been working on establishing the system we want to run over the next four years,” Speraw said of his first days in the gym with the team at the American Sports Centers (ASC) in Anaheim, Calif. “We want to establish the culture that we want to compete with the best in the world.”

The roster for Wichita includes 2012 returnees Lee, Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.), David Smith (Saugus, Calif.) and Brian Thornton (San Clemente, Calif.).

Those last five, who were considered “rookies” in London, are now the ones who are advising even younger players such as Tony Ciarelli (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Erik Shoji (Honolulu) who are both 23.

“It will definitely be a new experience for me, being one of the older guys,” said Lotman, 28. “I’m looking forward to it. The first two weeks I was back in the gym, I had a minor injury so I acted as more of a coach.”

The Team

Middle blocker is a strong position for the U.S. Men’s Team as three players return from the 2012 Olympic Team: Holmes, Lee and Smith.

Behind them, Max Holt (Cincinnati), who was a 2012 Olympic Team alternate, had a strong winter season in Italy’s Serie A league, where his team advanced to the league final and won the CEV Challenge Cup. Matt Rawson (Westchester, Calif.) has played at the Pan American Games and Pan American Cup and played the winter of 2012-13 in France.

At outside hitter, three-time Olympian Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) is taking some time off, although he has still been training at the ASC. Look for 2012 USA Volleyball men’s indoor athlete of the year and Olympian Matt Anderson to step into a leadership role after a winter break spent playing in Russia. Paul Lotman, another 2012 Olympian, should also play a greater role after helping his Polish team to the league championship over the winter.

Newcomers looking to break through will be Ciarelli and Lawson as well as Jayson Jablonsky (Yorba Linda, Calif.) and Garrett Muagututia (Oceanside, Calif.). Ciarelli and Lawson were both college standouts who have played on the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team. Ciarelli, Jablonsky and Muagututia have all played on Pan Am Cup teams.

Thornton, a 2012 Olympian who started at setter for the U.S. Men for much of the 2010 and 2011 seasons, is the veteran of the setting corp. Setter Kawika Shoji (Honolulu) has played on U.S. youth, junior and Pan American Cup teams and spent the winter leading his German team to the league championship.

Setters Kyle Caldwell (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Ryan Ammerman (Denver) will be looking to help as well. Caldwell, who played in the 2011 Pan American Games, competed over the winter in Belgium. Ammerman was on the 2012 Pan Am Cup team and played over the winter in Croatia.

Jeff Menzel (Santa Barbara, Calif.), who competed in the 2011 World University Games and Pan American Cup and spent the winter of 2012-13 playing in Italy, is training at both outside hitter and opposite.

Opposite Clay Stanley (Honolulu), a three-time Olympian and 2008 Most Valuable Player in Beijing, will also miss World League this year, opening the door for Murphy Troy (St. Louis, Mo.), Carson Clark (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Evan Patak (Pleasanton, Calif.). Troy played over the winter in Italy, while Clark was in France and Patak in Puerto Rico and France. Patak has the most international experience with the U.S. Men’s Team, having been the starting opposite for much of 2009 while Stanley rested.

After two Olympic Games, Lambourne continues to be a solid force at libero. Erik Shoji (Honolulu) and Alfee Reft (Oxnard, Calif.) will also be looking for playing time. Reft was the backup to Lambourne in 2009 and 2010 before leaving the team to try full-time coaching. He returns after playing over the winter in France. Shoji has played on U.S. youth and junior teams along with the 2011 World University Games team.

The Competition

The United States has competed in World League 15 times since the start of the competition in 1990, including every year from 2006-12.

If the U.S. Men qualify for the World League Final Round in 2013, it will be the third straight time they have made it and the fifth time since 2005. Prior to the 2012 World League silver medal, the U.S. Men won the gold medal in 2008, bronze in 2007 and bronze in 1992.

One benefit to finishing second at the 2012 FIVB World League is that the U.S. Men got a particularly favorable schedule. They will get to play three matches in the United States against some lower-ranked teams before they travel to play Poland, ranked No. 4 by the FIVB and the defending World League champions, and Brazil, the world’s No. 1 ranked team and the nine-time World League champion.

The U.S. will open World League against No. on June 7-8 in Wichita, Kan., against No. 9 Argentina. In 2012, the U.S. Men won two preseason scrimmages against Argentina and also defeated the South Americans at the Pan American Cup. Argentina finished 10th at the 2012 World League and fifth at the 2012 Olympic Games. Argentina will be without its top outside hitter Facundo Conte, who recently underwent shoulder surgery. The U.S. Men are 43-8 against Argentina since 1980.

On June 14-15, the U.S. Men will be in Tulsa to face No. 15 France. The two teams were in the same pool in 2012 and the U.S. Men went 2-2 against the European team. In fact, the U.S. Men had to win it final pool play match against Italy in order to keep France from winning the pool. France finished seventh at World League. It did not qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games. The United States is 39-8 against France since 1980. Four players on the U.S. World League Team – Patak, Clark, Reft and Smith – played in France’s professional league during the winter of 2012-13.

After a week off, the U.S. Men’s Team will be in Reno, Nev., on June 28-29 to face No. 8 Bulgaria. In 2012, the U.S. Men faced Bulgaria on its home turf in Sofia in the World League Final Round and came away with a victory in front of 10,500 fans. Bulgaria finished fourth in World League and went on to place fourth in the Olympic Games. The United States is 23-13 against Bulgaria since 1980.

The U.S. Men will play in two different Polish cities during their trip to Eastern Europe. On July 5 they will play in Katowice while on July 7 they will be in Wroclaw. The United States played Poland once in 2012, losing in the World League final. After winning World League, Poland finished tied for fifth at the Olympic Games. U.S. players Lotman and Holmes have both played in Poland the last two winters. The U.S. Men have a 33-18 record against Poland since 1980.

Pool play will end for the U.S. Men on July 13-14 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which is just a short hop from where the Final Round will be held in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The U.S. Men defeated Brazil twice in 2012, once at the Pan American Cup and once in pool play at the Olympic Games. However Brazil bounced back from that loss and ended up winning the silver medal in London. It finished sixth at World League. The U.S. Men have a 64-75 record against Brazil since 1980.

Six teams will qualify for the World League Finals on July 17-21 in Mar del Plata, Argentina: The top two teams from Pools A and B, plus the winners of Pool C and the host country. As Argentina is in Pool A and is already among the qualified teams, the best ranked team of Pool A – not already qualified – will be selected.

2013 U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team
12-Man Roster for FIVB World League on June 7-8 in Wichita, Kan.

No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (OH, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
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., USC)
10. Tony Ciarelli (OH, 6-6, Huntington Beach, Calif., USC)
11. Brian Thornton (S, 6-3, San Clemente, Calif., UC Irvine)
13. Matt Rawson (MB, 6-7, Westchester, Calif., Hawaii)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-8, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

Head Coach: John Speraw (Irvine, Calif.)
Team Manager: Chris Jackson (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Assistant Coach: Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Mike Sealy (Santa Monica, Calif.)
Consultant Coach: Andrea Becker (Martinez, Calif.)
Physiotherapist/Athletic trainer: Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)
Technical Coordinator: Anton Willert (Berlin, Germany)
Doctor: Andrew Gregory (Nashville, Tenn.)

2013 U.S. Men’s World League Schedule

June 7-8: Argentina at USA, Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kan. - BUY TICKETS
June 14-15: France at USA, Tulsa Convention Center Arena in Tulsa, Okla. - BUY TICKETS
June 28-29: Bulgaria at USA, Reno Events Center in Reno, Nev. - BUY TICKETS
July 5: USA at Poland, Spodek in Katowice, Poland
July 7: USA at Poland, Centennial Hall in Wroclaw, Poland
July 13-14: USA at Brazil, Maracanazinho in Rio de Janeiro

Related Athletes

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Matt Anderson

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Carson Clark

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David Lee

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Paul Lotman

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Garrett Muagututia

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Erik Shoji

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Kawika Shoji

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David Smith

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Murphy Troy