This weekend the Dutch national team returns to the World League after a five-year absence, with opening round matches against Olympic Champion the United States at the Sports Palace Ahoy in Rotterdam on Saturday and Sunday.
Dutch head coach Peter Blangé says he is glad to see his team back in the World League. His goal now is to keep it there.
"I am really happy that we are participating in the World League again", said Blangé. "Participation in the World League is essential to get the current team to grow. It is also of great importance that we stay in the World League after this edition. That is why we have to perform well and it would be nice if the Dutch crowd supports us in the best way possible."
Blangé knows what he talks about, as the former international took part in the first World League in 1990. His experience at the grueling international competition will benefit his team in the coming weeks.
Blangé enjoys the fact that the Dutch will start the World League in Rotterdam with two matches against Olympic Champion the United States. "Last year I went to the Olympic Games in Beijing and I saw the American team win the golden medal. Their responsibilities were divided very well and they have a great mentality. However, this team will also experience how hard it is to wear the Olympic title for four years. We definitely have a chance against them. I have a feeling that we can play the spoiler in the World League."
Dutch captain Jeroen Trommel played for BSB Istanbul last season with two Olympic champions, Ryan Millar and Scott Touzinsky. "For me it's extra special to open the World League against the USA. That team consists of many top Volleyball players who all play in strong country competitions. The strange thing is that the Americans do not always excel at their clubs, but as a national team they constitute a great collective."
The last time that the Netherlands and USA played against each other during an official championship was during the Olympic Games in 2004. The USA won that match 3-0. The two countries played five friendly matches in 2005, of which three were won by the Netherlands.