The American outside hitter was one of a few youngsters that have made their first steps in international senior volleyball this summer and more specifically at the 2015 World League. Product of the successful US athletic collegiate system, Aaron Russell is now a vital addition to John Speraw’s squad.
There have been a handful of examples for fresh college graduates who have started their national team (and professional respectively) careers with a scream in the USA. Although the 22-year-old Russell made his official debut with the US jersey at last year’s World Championship NORCECA qualifiers, where he helped USA to gain a berth for the tournament in Poland, but it wasn’t until the first days of the 2015 World League when the Penn State alumnus held the spotlight. USA beat twice Iran in Los Angeles and were the maiden battles of Russell as a full-time, starting-six outside hitter at Team USA. 17 points with a 53% attack efficiency were followed by 13 points (63% in attack and an ace). The impressive performances and numbers kept on coming in the next games versus Russia and Poland (check the video below).
For a second year in a row John Speraw fancies the luxury to integrate a college player into his senior team. Taylor Sander, another newcomer from last year’s team, was even selected MVP of the 2014 World League. USA were the defending champions when they arrived for the finals in Rio de Janeiro and Aaron Russell was a much needed fit for USA due to the absence of Sean Rooney and Garrett Muagututia in 2015. Russell could not help the Americans repeat the triumph from Florence but had a major contribution for the bronze medals.
In 2015, Aaron also won the inaugural Karch Kiraly Award, presented by Off the Block blog, as the best outside attacker in NCAA DI-II men’s volleyball. While still in college, he led the Penn State Nittany Lions to three straight semifinals at the NCAA Division I championship in 2013, 2014, and 2015. He reached the final on none of these occasions, but reached the national team instead.
What you need to know about his game style is that he resembles his teammate Matthew Anderson a lot. “There are some similarities. They both move similarly, they follow the same path. They both have the ability to adapt to whatever role the team needs of them,” shares Penn State’s head coach Mark Pavlik about the comparison between Aaron Russell and Matt Anderson.
The Italian title contender Sir Safety Perugia was the team that rapidly recruited the talented outside hitter even before the end of the World League. You can soon follow Aaron in one of the top national championships in the world but before that he has another challenge with Team USA – the World Cup in Japan and the fight for the first Olympic quotas.
Born: June 4, 1993
Position: Outside hitter
Height: 205 cm
Current club: Sir Safety Perugia