April 15, 2004 - In its first competition since qualifying for the 2004 Olympic Games back in January, the USA men's national volleyball team will travel to Japan for a series of four matches beginning on Saturday, April 24.
Team USA will arrive in Japan on Thursday, April 22 will train the next day. The first match of the tour will be on Saturday, April 24 in the city of Wakayama. The second match will be on Sunday, April 25 in Ootsu.
The teams will then have a travel and training day on Monday, April 26, before playing the third match of the tour on Tuesday, April 27 in Fukui. Following another travel and training day the, the teams will play the finale of the tour on Thursday, April 29 in Osaka. The United States squad will then begin the long journey home the following day.
"We are eager to go to Japan; it will be a good trip," said Team USA head coach Doug Beal, a member of the Volleyball Hall of Fame. "We have a long-term relationship with the Japanese federation. Their national team is in its final preparations for their Asian Olympic qualifier, which will be next month."
Team USA began the year by going 6-0 at the NORCECA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caguas, Puerto Rico from January 5-10.
After taking nearly one month off, the players that were not playing professionally overseas resumed training on February 9. Since then, a handful of overseas players have returned to the national team, including Kevin Barnett (Naperville, Ill.), Tom Hoff (Park Ridge, Ill.), Dave McKienzie (Littleton, Colo.), Clay Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii) and Erik Sullivan (Encinitas, Calif.).
"The players that have been here since February have been in the gym a long time," admits Beal. "They need something to look forward to. Also, some of the players that we are taking to Japan will not be on the Olympic team. Those players have worked hard, they deserve to play matches representing the USA, and they will do it well."
Following the Japan tour, the team will take a short break before resuming training on Monday, May 10.
"We will have one large training block right after Japan-more than six weeks until our next competition," said Beal. "That will be nice. It will give us an opportunity to integrate more of the overseas players back into the gym. I hope we can be in sync."