Ex-Kaiser, UH star Clay Stanley named to U.S. Olympic team
Former Kaiser High and University of Hawai'i athlete Clay Stanley today was named to the U.S. Men's Olympic indoor volleyball team that will compete in Beijing, according to the USA volleyball Web site.
This will be Stanley's second Olympics. He competed in 2004 in Athens.
Joining Stanley will be Lloy Ball, Gabe Gardner, Kevin Hansen, Tom Hoff, Rich Lambourne, David Lee, Ryan Millar, Reid Priddy, Sean Rooney, Riley Salmon and Scott Touzinsky.
Former UH players Delano Thomas and Alfee Reft, who are members of the U.S. Men's National Team, were not selected to play in Beijing.
Hugh McCutcheon, the U.S. Men's National Team head coach since 2005, will serve as the Olympic team's coach. It will be his first Olympic Games as a head coach. He served as an assistant under Doug Beal in 2004 in Athens, when the U.S. Men finished fourth.
"We feel very confident that we have selected the best team to represent this country at the upcoming Olympic Games," McCutcheon said on usavolleyball.org. "We have a good mix of experience and youth and we have 12 very good volleyball players on this roster. They work well together both on and off the court and they compete at a very high level.
"The decision to determine the final 12 was difficult because we've had so many people contribute to the success this team has had over the last four years."
Ball, 36, is the first U.S. Men's volleyball player to compete in four Olympic Games – 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.
"As you get older and have more big-match experience, you become more confident in your own game as an individual player and also as a team," Ball said. "We have a solid team, one through 12. The Olympics is such a different kind of tournament. It's such an emotional ride up and down... It takes a real strong athlete and a real strong team to do well. I thought we had that in the last Olympics and since we have so many guys carrying over from that team, I think we will have it this time."
Hoff (2000, 2004), the team captain, and Millar (2000, 2004) are both veterans of the last two Olympic Games.
Hoff said the experience of finishing fourth in Athens should help this year's team.
"Hopefully we will draw strength in seeing both our great comeback versus Greece (in 2004), knowing to never give up," Hoff said. "We also saw how small the difference is between winning a medal and not when we played Russia (in the bronze-medal match)."
Five members are first-time Olympians — Hansen, Lambourne, Lee, Rooney and Touzinsky.
The U.S. Men's National Team is ranked third in the world and is competing in the FIVB World League, where it will face Bulgaria in two matches on Friday and Saturday in Varna. However, the United States, with a record of 9-1, has already secured the pool victory and will go straight from Varna to compete in the six-team final round in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 23-27.
The team will then spend about a week at its headquarters at the American Sports Center in Anaheim, Calif., before leaving for Beijing on Aug. 3.
In the men's Olympic draw, the United States is grouped in Pool A with Bulgaria, China, Italy, Japan and Venezuela. Pool B is Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Poland, Russia and Serbia.
The U.S. Men start the Olympic Games on Aug. 10 against Venezuela at the Capital Indoor Stadium, followed by an Aug. 12 match against Italy at the same venue. Team USA plays Bulgaria on Aug. 14in the Capital Indoor Stadium. The Americans face China on Aug. 16 at the Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium before wrapping up pool play on Aug. 18 against Japan at the Capital Indoor Stadium.
The United States qualified for the Olympic Games by winning the NORCECA Men's Continental Olympic Qualifier on Jan. 6-11 in Puerto Rico.