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USA to face much-improved Italian side

Sean Rooney (2) of the United States hits over Italy's Andrea Sala and Giacomo Sintini when the teams faced each other in Italy

Hoffman Estates, Illinois, July 7, 2009 - The United States finds itself in a must-win situation this weekend when it plays Italy in two 2009 FIVB World League matches at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

The U.S. Men, No. 2 in the world, lead World League Pool A with a 6-2 record. But No. 6 Italy is hot on its trail at 5-3 having beaten visiting Netherlands twice on July 3 and 5.

"We are definitely looking forward to playing in the U.S. again," said U.S. coach Alan Knipe, who just returned with the team from China where the U.S. split two matches with the Chinese. "I know they had great crowds in Hoffman Estates for the World League last year, so we are really looking forward to seeing a lot of fans of both the U.S. and Italy."

Team USA defeated Italy twice when the teams played in Italy on June 19 and 21. The scores were 3-1 (25-21, 30-28, 21-25, 25-21) and 3-1 (25-19, 18-25, 25-22, 25-20). The United States is now 22-37 against Italy since 1981.

"I think Italy will be much improved from when we faced them," Knipe said. "We will need to play our best volleyball."

Outside hitter Sean Rooney of Wheaton, Illinois, who played on both the FIVB World League championship team and also the 2008 Olympic gold medal team, will have plenty of family and friends in the stands for the matches, which will take place July 10-11 at 7 p.m. both days.

Rooney is leading the U.S. Men in World League scoring with 121 points on 109 kills, 11 blocks and one ace. He is 10th overall among all World League scorers. Rooney's 109 kills in 212 attempts puts him fifth among all spikers with a 51.42 success percentage.

Also making a homecoming of sorts will be middle blocker Andy Hein from Carol Stream, Illinois, who has started every 2009 World League match, while Ryan Millar takes the summer off.

Hein is the second leading blocker for the U.S. Men (behind David Lee) with 17 blocks in 43 attempts and an average of 0.53 blocks per set. He is 11th among all World League blockers.

Outside hitter Cristian Savani leads Italy in scoring with 124 points on 109 kills, 11 blocks and four aces. He is tied for seventh among all World League scorers and third among all spikers with a success percentage of 52.4.

Middle blocker Andrea Sala leads Italy in blocking and is second overall with 22 blocks in 61 attempts and an average of 0.79 blocks per set.



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