Hiroshima, Japan, October 14, 2019 – Aaron Russell is playing for USA for the second time in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup, and he feels he now has a more pivotal role to fulfill.
“I am a lot more experienced and there are a lot of young guys in the team. I try to come in with a veteran role now, teaching and leading, as compared to the last World Cup,” Russell said.
The 26 year-old outside hitter from Maryland has delivered consistently for Team USA, earning a spot in the Top 10 scorers of the 2019 World Cup.
“I think, especially now with Taylor Sander injured, that has signaled a huge change,” he said.
Russell played college volleyball with Pennsylvania State University, and built a club career in Italy. He played for Sir Safety Perugia from 2015 to 2018, before transferring to his current team Trentino Volley.
“I love living in Italy. It’s awesome!” Russell said.
“I really miss the food, maybe halfway through the summer, I started missing Italian food. I’m excited to get back there,” he added.
Russell will continue to wear the Trentino Volley jersey for the 2019-2020 season.
He says: “I love where I am now. I think that Trento, and being up in the Dolomites in Northern Italy, up in the Alps, I think that’s a beautiful spot. My wife loves it too, so we’re both happy. If the opportunity continues to present itself to us, I think we would really love to stay on in Italy.”
Coming into his fifth year of playing in Italy’s Superlega, Russell could not be any more grateful for people who have helped to grow his game.
“I’ve played alongside Ivan Zaytsev, Aleksandr Atanasijevic, Luciano De Cecco, Uros Kovacevic, Simone Giannelli, a lot of big names. I’ve been coached by some great coaches too, and I think I learned a lot from all of them. I think their professionalism too, like how they approach the game and their volleyball IQ has rubbed off on me,” the American said.
Team USA with the bronze in Rio
Russell has helped USA to honours at the Rio 2016 Olympics, the 2015 World Cup, the 2018 World Championship, World League and Volleyball Nations League.
In 2018, Russell was also part of his club Trentino Volley's victories in the CEV Cup and the FIVB Men's Club World Championship, when he picked up the Most Valuable Player award. Russell with MVP honours in the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship
“I’ve always based my success on my team’s success. A lot of times, people go for individual awards but I just wanna step on to the court and represent my team well,” he shared. Russell receives the Mikasa
“I’ll play hard, and if I get an individual award, that’s great. But in the end, I’m looking for gold medals for Team USA. It would be nice to win a VNL gold, and definitely, the Olympic gold. That’s the main goal next season,” said Russell.