Over the past decade, U.S. Men's Volleyball team has been looking to return to the greatness it experienced in the 1980s and '90s when it won two Olympic gold medals (1984 and '88) and a bronze (1992) as well as an FIVB World Cup (1985) and World Championship (1986).
In 2006, the team moved its headquarters from the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., to the American Sports Center in Anaheim, Calif. While the move did not pay dividends immediately -- the team finished 10th at both the 2006 World League and World Championship -- things improved greatly in 2007.
Now ranked third in the world following a third-place finish at the 2007 World League and a fourth-place at the 2007 World Cup, the U.S. Men could be on the verge of greatness, thanks to a roster of veterans and younger players led by Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon.
USA made it to the final round of the World League (in Katowice, Poland) last year for the first time since 2000 and they defeated hometown favourite Poland, 3-1 for a third-place finish.
Third place is the best World League finish for the United States since 1992, when it also placed third. U.S. libero Rich Lambourne was named Best Libero for the 2007 World League.
Team USA started brilliantly at the 2007 World Cup by defeating Brazil in three sets. But that victory was followed by two straight losses to the lower-ranked Puerto Rico and Spain. They recovered in the subsequent matches but a five-set loss to Russia in their final match meant Brazil, they missed out on the available Olympic spots.
A few weeks later, the U.S. Team made sure of a place in Beijing in the NORCECA Men's Continental Olympic Qualifier in Caguas, Puerto Rico. The U.S. Men won the tournament with a 5-0 record and without dropping a set, downing Puerto Rico in the Final.
Four members of the U.S. Men's National Team were honored for their play. Rich Lambourne was named best libero and best receiver. Rooney won best spiker. Millar was named top blocker and Stanley took best server.
The U.S. Men were looking to improve on their 2007 World League performance at the 2008 World League shortly before leaving for the Beijing Games.