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Over the weekend I attended the International Federation of Volleyball���s (FIVB) 2007 World League matches in Chicago. Team USA prevailed over Italy both Friday and Saturday evening. I had never observed international volleyball before; it was exciting to watch athletes of that caliber perform.




The World League is an annual tournament created by the FIVB in 1990 to boost international interest and competition in volleyball. Last year, $20 million in prize money was distributed among 16 participating teams and individual, high-performing athletes.




Team USA now has a commanding lead in Pool B, which is comprised of USA, France, Italy and Japan. Should Team USA qualify for the final round of the World League, they will head to Katowice, Poland, in mid-July and attempt to capture their first-ever World League title.




If you have never experienced watching the national volleyball team compete, I would encourage you to do so. They put on a thrilling show and play in venues that allow you to be extremely near the action. The next U.S. appearance on the men���s schedule is September 14, for the NORCECA Championships in various locations across the United States.



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The 2007 World League annual volleyball tournament is coming to the United States. Along its three-week world tour, it will be making stops in Green Bay, Portland and Chicago.




Created in 1990, the World League is the longest and richest of all the international events organized by the FIVB. In 2006, $20 million in prize money was distributed among 16 participating teams from five continents.




The World League was created to promote volleyball by establishing a competition that would appeal to audiences all over the world. International competitions involving top volleyball teams (i.e., the Olympic Games, the World Championship) take place in four-year cycles, and were usually confined to a host city or nation. Conversely, the World League was designed to be played on a one-year basis, with a system of rotating cities that allowed every team to host a number of matches in the preliminary round.




Historically, Italy has been the dominant team in the World League, winning the gold eight times -- the most of any country. I became a big volleyball fan in college while following Loyola University���s nationally ranked men���s team, so I���m very excited to be able to check out the U.S. men���s national team compete against Italy, the second-ranked team in the world.




(Photo provided by Getty Images/Adam Pretty)



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