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COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – The U.S. men’s volleyball team will look very familiar to those who have poured into Rec Hall to cheer for the Nittany Lions year after year as three Penn State alums were named to the Team USA men’s volleyball roster and two Penn State alums added to Team Mexico men’s volleyball roster Tuesday afternoon.
“Anytime you can have five Nittany Lions as Olympians in a single sport at the pinnacle of men’s volleyball it is an awesome achievement,” said Penn State men’s volleyball head coach Mark Pavlik.
“I’m really proud of the guys who have taken advantage of the opportunities to get them there.”
The roster announcement comes in advance of this summer’s Games of the XXXI Olympiad that are set to be held in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, in August 5-21.
Anderson and Holt both helped the Nittany Lions capture the 2008 National Collegiate Championship, the second in program history and first under current head coach Mark Pavlik.
Anderson, an Outside Hitter, will compete in his second Olympic Games after starting during his Olympic debut in London during the 2012 games while Holt, a middle blocker, and Russell, an opposite hitter, who graduated from Penn State last year, will each be making their first appearances on the Olympic stage.
Anderson was named MVP of the 2015 FIVB World Cup as the U.S. Men won the tournament and qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games this past September in Tokyo, Japan. A four-time USAV Male Indoor Player of the Year (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), Anderson has been the U.S. Men’s leading scorer every season since 2011.
Anderson was 2008 AVCA Co-Player of the Year with Paul Lotman of Long Beach State after leading Penn State to the NCAA Men’s Division I Championship and being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Also helping Anderson lead Penn State to the 2008 National Collegiate Championship was Max Holt.
Holt was named Best Middle Blocker as the U.S. Men finished third at the 2015 FIVB World League and also helped the U.S. Men win the 2014 FIVB World League. Holt earned USAV's 2013 Male Indoor Most Improved Player honors and was an alternate on the 2012 U.S. Olympic men's volleyball team
The third Nittany Lion, Aaron Russell, won a gold medal and was the youngest member of the U.S. Men’s Team for the 2014 NORCECA World Championship Qualifier. Russell was named Best Spiker at the 2014 World Championship Qualifier where he made his national team debut.
While at Penn State Russell helped Penn State reach the 2013, 2014 and 2015 NCAA Men’s DI-II National Championship tournaments and was named a 2014 and 2015 AVCA First Team All-American and 2013, 2014 and 2015 Uvaldo Acosta Memorial EIVA Player of the Year.
The U.S. qualified for the Olympics by winning the World Cup last year in Tokoyo, Japan. The first match in Rio is set for Aug. 7 against Canada.
The Team USA trio will not be the only Nittany Lions on the court in Rio. Two other Lions are part of the Mexican national team, with Carlos Guerra (Penn State 2003) on the roster and Ivan Contreras (Penn State 1997) as an assistant coach.
The U.S. Men have qualified for 10 previous Olympic Games: 1964, ’68, ’84, ’88, ’92, ’96, 2000, ’04, ’08 and ’12. They won the Olympic gold medal in 1984, ’88 and 2008 and won bronze in 1992. The U.S. Men finished tied for fifth at the 2012 Olympic Games.
For more on Nittany Lion men’s volleyball, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateMVBALL.