Colorado Springs, Colo, March 29, 2005 - The USA Menís National Volleyball Team opens the 2005 season with three matches against the Netherlands in Washington, Idaho and Oregon, respectively, from June 2-5, it was announced Tuesday.
The matches will be Team USAís first international competition of the 2005 season and the first under new head coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand). McCutcheon was named head coach on Feb. 3.
Itís great that we get such a quality opponent to start the season, said McCutcheon. We are very happy that Holland is able to come and play us. At that stage we are going to have some younger guys on the roster, so itís just wonderful that we get to play such a quality team this early in our season. Itís going to be a good experience. For the team and for the program itís a great way to begin.
The opportunity to play these matches here in the United States is wonderful, McCutcheon added. We would like to play a lot more events here in the U.S., obviously. The people that are going to come out and see these matches are going to see some quality Volleyball and a couple of international powerhouses going at it. It should be good.
Last year, Team USA posted a record of 20-9 and finished fourth at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. The men, ranked No. 5 in the world to start the 2005 season, showed glimpses of its potential to return to the upper echelon of the Volleyball world last season, posting wins over three of the top four teams in the world (No. 1 Brazil, No. 3 Serbia and Montenegro and No. 4 Russia twice).
The United States won Olympic gold medals in 1984 in Los Angeles and 1988 in Seoul and earned the bronze medal in 1992 in Barcelona.
The Dutch, who finished tied for ninth at the Athens Olympics, begin the year ranked No. 11 in the world. The Netherlands captured the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta after earning a silver medal at the 1992 Olympics.
These two teams met last summer in Athens as the Americans overcame deficits of 17-12 and 23-19 in the first set and posted a stunning 26-24, 25-20, 25-18 victory to end a nine-match Olympic losing streak. The win helped propel Team USA to the No. 3 spot in the pool and all the way to the bronze medal match, where they lost to Russia.
For the Dutch, who defeated 2000 Olympic silver medalist (and eventual 2004 bronze medalist) Russia in five sets in the first match of pool play, the loss proved to be a key reason they did not advance to the medal round. The Netherlands then lost to Brazil and Italy before beating Australia in the final preliminary match and finished fifth in Pool A with a record of 2-3 behind Brazil (4-1), Italy (3-2), USA (3-2) and Russia (3-2).
Following the three-match series, both teams will travel to Seattle, Wash., to compete in the Pacific Rim Sports Summit from June 8-12. Teams from Australia and China will join the Netherlands and the United States in the four-team tournament at the Qwest Field Event Center.