Rotterdam, The Netherlands, June 12, 2009 - Just as the fans are happy to have the World League back
in Rotterdam, the participants and organizers are equally pleased to have
returned to the famous Ahoy arena.
At a press conference on the eve of two matches between
the hosts and Olympic gold medalists the United States, all parties expressed
their excitement about the upcoming games and their pleasure at being here.
"It is good to be back here in Rotterdam. I was here
the last time in 2000 as an international referee. (Dutch coach and former
international) Peter Blangé will remember that", said FIVB Supervisor
Team USA coach Alan Knipe said he has a lot of confidence
in his team. "We are a team in transition though. Some of the guys that
played at the Olympic Games will not be present in the World League. We still
have a fair amount of experienced guys and some new players. Playing the World
League matches will be a good experience for them. Our goal is to maintain a
high level and to introduce the young players. The team is feeling good."
His captain, David Lee, said his team was looking forward
to the matches against an improved Dutch squad. "The Dutch have an
incredible history. In recent years they had some problems with their world
ranking because they could not qualify for some important tournaments. Their
core group has been together for almost five years and now they should make a
Blangé expressed his happiness both at being back in the
World League and playing in Rotterdam. "Ahoy is one of the largest venues
in the Netherlands. It has a big history in Volleyball. For most of the players
it will be the first time that they will play in Ahoy.
"We are honored that we will face the United States
in the first round. They are the Olympic champions and World League winners.
They are No. 1 and we have to compete against them. That causes some tension in
the team. Everyone wants to do well."
Jeroen Trommel agreed with his coach but said it was also
an exciting time for the team.
"Most of us have never played against the top teams
in the world before. It is exciting but stressful as well," Trommel said.
"I played in the World League in 2001 and 2003. It is a great experience
to play outside Europe and you never forget it when you play for 10,000
spectators. A player needs that experience to get better. That is our goal
because we want to be among the top ten in the world.
"But we are honored that we can play our first World
League matches against the Olympic Champions and World League winners. It will
be an exciting six weeks for us."
On Saturday the match between the Netherlands and the
United States will start at 17:00 (local time), while the match on Sunday gets
under way at 15:00.