COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 27, 2019) – The stakes may not be as high as in 2015, but the U.S. Men’s National Team is still going for gold at the 2019 FIVB World Cup on Sept. 30-Oct. 14 in Japan.
The U.S. Men are the defending World Cup champions and winning the event in 2015 also qualified them for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Four years later, the event is not an Olympic qualifier because Japan automatically qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games as host, and therefore could not compete in the World Cup if it were an Olympic qualifier (Teams that have qualified for the Olympics are not allowed to compete in Olympic qualifiers so that they cannot have an effect on the outcome).
The U.S. Men are looking to defend their title, but Head Coach John Speraw has other objectives as well.
“The goal is the same in that we are trying to win and defend our championship from four years ago,” Speraw said. “The stakes are less. I do think this is a great opportunity to play a challenging tournament with guys competing for Olympic spots next year.”
Another difference in the 2019 World Cup is that teams are allowed to announce their match rosters 24 hours before each context. The U.S. Men, who have been training this week in Mishima City, will bring 16 players and choose 14 before each match.
The U.S. Men’s players competing include seven players who won bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games: opposite Matt Anderson, setter Micah Christenson, libero Erik Shoji, outside hitters Aaron Russell and Thomas Jaeschke and middle blockers Max Holt and David Smith.
The other outside hitters are T.J. DeFalco and Garrett Muagututia. Other middle blockers are Jeff Jendryk and Mitch Stahl. Ben Patch and James Shaw are the backup opposites. Other setters are Micah Ma’a and Josh Tuaniga. Michael Saeta will travel as a serving specialist.
“The last time we went through this event, we played starters every match,” Speraw said. “This one, because we’re a little older, I will have to make more aggressive roster decisions. We will have the opportunity to look at guys who haven’t played a lot this summer.”
The World Cup format is straight round robin, with each of the 12 teams playing every other team once. The U.S. will play its first five matches in Fukuoka and then play the last six in Hiroshima.
World Cup matches will be broadcast on FloVolleyball.tv.