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Bulgaria and USA ready for spectacular start to Pool B

Reid Priddy is one of three Olympic champions in the USA side

Varna, Bulgaria, May 22, 2014 – With Bulgaria set to begin their 2014 FIVB World League campaign with two matches at home to the USA excitement is beginning to grow in the Black Sea coast city and across the country. 

Bulgaria, who are ranked sixth in the world face the fourth ranked team at the Palace of Culture and Sports in Varna on Friday at 17.30 (GMT) and 17.00 on Saturday. 

They later face fellow east Europeans Serbia and Russia in Group B and both teams are well aware of how tough it will be to make it through the group and into the final six in Florence, which runs from July 16-20. 

“We all come to the World League with high expectations, and the four of us clearly are aiming for the same objective; making it through to the World League Finals in Florence, Italy,” Bulgaria captain Todor Aleksiev said.

“It’s going to be a war getting out of it, but we have a good chance and this first weekend is crucial,” USA captain Sean Rooney added.

The World League has extra significance this year as it starts just after the 100 day mark until the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship, Poland 2014, meaning teams will be out to lay down an early marker. 

For the USA it is a chance to return to the podium for the first time since 2012, where they finished with silver having been beaten by Poland in the final. 

The team is likely to include three of the team that won gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Rooney, David Lee and Reid Priddy, while Matt Anderson recently won the Russian championship with Zenit Kazan. 

“I feel good about the team,” US coach John Speraw said. “We are much better prepared than last year. We have a good mix of experienced players with three Beijing 2008 Olympic champions, Matt Anderson and some young, talented players. We certainly need time to grow to our full potential but hopefully the World League Finals are within reach.”

Bulgaria have faced a tough time going into the match with a number of players struggling to overcome injuries, though as far as he is concerned playing three tough teams is exactly what his team require to hit the ground running. 

“Our medical staff has been quite busy these last few weeks as several players returned from their club season with injuries,” Bulgaria coach Camillo Placi said. “The players will first need time to recover physically, then we will try to play well and by doing so, then we could focus on winning. All players took part in yesterday’s training session.

"It is by facing tough opponents that you extend your experience and go further. The road is difficult and these three teams are like small hills to go over before you can climb up the bigger mountain.”


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