U.S. Women Block Poland Upset Bid, Finish Second in Pool

Aug. 17, 2008, 4:52 a.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800
E-Mail: bill.kauffman@usav.org

BEIJING (Aug. 17, 2008) – Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) scored six of her team-high 25 points in the final set and the U.S. Olympic Women’s Indoor Volleyball Team rallied from a 2-1 set deficit to defeat Poland 18-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-19, 15-13 on the final day of pool-play matches of the 2008 Olympic Games at Beijing’s Capital Indoor Stadium Sunday afternoon.

The U.S. (4-1), looking to reach the Olympic medal stand for the first time since 1992 (bronze in 1992, silver in 1984), concludes pool play with a second-place finish behind undefeated Cuba (5-0). Poland (1-4) entered the match needing a victory over the U.S. along with some help to earn a spot in the quarterfinals. Now, both China and Japan have qualified for the quarterfinals, but the match winner between the two teams tonight will be the third seed out of Pool A.

“We just wanted to take the opportunity today to play well and prepare for our quarterfinal match,” U.S. Olympic Women’s Indoor Volleyball Team Head Coach ‘Jenny’ Lang Ping said. “I still say our players are picked on and we are not playing very consistently. For us to have a good game in the quarterfinals, we will need to improve ourselves.”

The top four teams in both round-robin preliminary pools advance to the quarterfinals on Aug. 19 with the winner of each pool facing the fourth-place team in the opposite pool. A drawing of lots held after the press conference for the 10 p.m. Russia-Serbia match will determine the opponents for the second- and third-place teams against the opposite pool. The quarterfinal winners advance to the semifinals on Aug. 21, while the gold and bronze medal matches take place on Aug. 23.

Poland, which trailed 14-11 in the opening set, scored 10 of the final 12 points to take a 25-18 victory. Team USA reversed the opening set conclusion by trailing 18-15 in the second set, only to come back to win 25-21 by scoring 10 of the final 13 points with four points from Tom during the spurt. The U.S. battled back from a 14-9 third-set deficit to within two at 18-16, but Poland pocketed the 25-19 victory with six of the final eight points. The U.S. rolled to a 7-2 lead early in the fourth set and Poland never came closer than three points as the Americans won 25-19 to send the match into a tiebreaking fifth set.

The U.S. recovered from a 3-0 deficit to start the fifth and took a 7-5 lead, but had to rally once again from an 11-10 deficit to win 15-13. Tom scored the final two points with a block and kill after the set was tied at 13-all.

Tom tallied 18 kills on 39 swings, match-high six blocks and an ace in leading Team USA. Ogonna Nnamani (Bloomington, Ill.) came off the bench to score 17 points via 11 kills, three blocks and three aces. Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) chipped in 11 points on 10 kills and a block. Kim Willoughby (Napoleonville, La.), who started just the last three sets, added nine points on seven kills and two aces.

Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.) contributed five points in the match, while Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) and Jennifer Joines (Milpitas, Calif.) added four points. Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) turned in three points in just two sets of action.

Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu) and Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) shared the setting duties. Ah Mow-Santos was credited with 63 set attempts and nine assists, while Berg had four assists on 50 attempts. Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) compiled a team-high 16 digs to go with a team-leading 25 excellent service receptions on 34 attempts. Tom added 13 digs and 18 excellent service receptions.

“We are really happy going into the quarterfinals with this win,” Berg. “We feel Poland was going to be a tough team, which was going to come out today and play their hearts out as it needed to win to advance. We didn’t stop fighting. We are still playing a little up and down, which we need to improve upon.”

Lang Ping substituted freely during the match trying to find combinations that worked against Poland. The Team USA bench scored 30 points in the match. Lang Ping had 11 of the 12 players competing in at least two sets during the match.

“The tournament starts now. All of the players are in different physical conditions. Some players are a little tired. So I need to make sure to balance time, especially the bench players who haven’t played much but are in great physical condition. I need to give them the opportunity to get the match back. For the older players, they may need to rest a couple sets. Again, our players did a great job. For the USA team, we always play as a team, and try to avoid our weakness.”

The U.S. started captain Ah Mow-Santos at setter, Tom and Glass at outside hitter, Scott-Arruda and Bown at middle blocker and Haneef-Park at opposite. Davis is the designated U.S. libero for the Olympic Games. Nnamani played in all five sets, starting the final four sets. Willoughby started the final three sets after subbing into the match in the second set. Berg started the second, fourth and fifth sets, while Joines started the final two sets after coming off the bench in the third set. Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) was a sub in the fourth set.

The U.S. held a 13-3 block advantage over Poland, and five of the blocks came in the crucial fifth set. Poland’s defense helped it stay close with a 70-59 dig advantage, along with a 10-7 ace advantage. However, the U.S. attacked at a 32.2 efficiency (kills minus errors divided by attacks) while limiting Poland to a 14.0 efficiency. Team USA received serve with a 67.4 success percentage with 62 excellent receptions on 92 attempts, while Poland handled 91 U.S. serves with a 78.0 success percentage.

“We knew our opponents would be fighting as it was do-or-die for them,” Bown said. “It was tough because we haven’t been stellar at early morning matches, but we fought hard in the last set and got it.”

Katarzyna Skowronska led Poland with 27 points as she provided 23 kills and four aces. Malgorzata Glinka contributed 14 points, followed by 12 points each from Agnieszka Bednarek and Milena Rosner.

The route through the Olympic Games preliminary round has been an emotional roller coaster for the American squad. Eight days ago, Team USA was informed of the tragic death of Todd Bachman, father-in-law of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Indoor Volleyball Team and father of 2004 U.S. Olympic volleyball player Elisabeth “Wiz” Bachman. Less than five hours of learning of the death on Aug. 9, the team won an emotion-filled four set match over Japan. However, the team suffered a letdown the following match on Aug. 11 against Cuba before bouncing back to defeat Venezuela on Aug. 13. Team USA played its best match of the tournament on Aug. 15 in defeating host China.

Team USA is ranked fourth in the world by the FIVB taking into accounts results of the 2008 FIVB World Grand Prix, 2007 FIVB World Cup, 2007 Continental Championship, 2006 World Championships and 2004 Olympic Games.

In other matches today, Kazakhstan won its first match of the Olympics with a 25-18, 25-20, 17-25, 25-16 victory, while Cuba swept Venezuela 25-20, 25-20, 25-19 and Brazil topped Italy 25-16, 25-22, 25-17 in a battle of undefeated team in Pool B. Later today, China hosts Japan at 8 p.m. and Russia playing Serbia at 10 p.m.

Italy and Brazil are undefeated in Pool B and its match will settle the group’s top seed. Serbia and Russia are tied for third at 2-2 and have qualified for the quarterfinals, but the winner of the head-to-head matchup will avoid being the number-four seed and facing Pool A’s top seed in the quarterfinals. Kazakhstan finished fifth in Pool B, while Algeria placed sixth without a victory.

The U.S. Women qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games by finishing third at the 2007 FIVB World Cup, the first qualifying event for the Olympic Games. Team USA has earned a silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games and a bronze medal at the 1992 Olympic Games.

For additional information on the U.S. Women’s National Team, click here.

Team USA started the first set strong with a Glass kill after a Polish error for a 2-0 advantage, but Poland answered with three consecutive points to assume a 3-2 lead. Scott-Arruda sliced a kill through the Polish defense, followed by a Poland error to give the U.S. a 5-4 lead. Tom and Bown scored consecutive kills to extend the gap to two, 7-5. Tom served an ace after the first technical timeout to push the lead to 9-6. Poland moved to within one at 10-9, but Glass scored two kills and an ace as part of a 3-1 run to take a three-point edge at 13-10 forcing a Poland timeout. Poland again charged back with a 4-1 scoring spurt to tie the set at 15-all. Bown scored a kill going into the second technical timeout, only to have Poland score four unanswered points to take 19-16 advantage. Poland extended its lead to seven at 24-17 with five straight points. Poland finished the set at 25-18 on its second set point opportunity.

Nnamani and Tom picked up consecutive kills to yield a 3-1 lead for the U.S. early in the second set. Poland came back with three straight points including two aces to take a 5-4 lead. Team USA regained the lead with four unanswered points at 11-8, including two aces by Nnamani after two Polish miscues. Poland responded with a 4-1 spurt to tie the set at 12-all. Poland continued its thrust by scoring three straight to take a 15-13 advantage. Poland scored points on both sides of the second technical timeout to net a 17-14 lead. Willoughby, Nnamani and Tom scored kills to erase the Polish lead and tie the set at 18-all. Team USA went ahead 20-19 on a service error and attack into the antenna by Poland. Team USA secured a key two-point cushion at 23-21 with a kill and block by Tom on consecutive plays. Out of a Poland timeout, Tom scored a third straight point with a kill to give the U.S. set points at 24-21. The U.S. ended the set on a diving dig by Ah Mow-Santos which Willoughby punched over on the second contact for a kill at 25-21.

Poland secured the first two-point cushion of the third set at 4-2 following an ace. Poland increased its margin to four with three straight points going into the first technical timeout. After a Scott-Arruda block put the U.S. down 9-6, Poland scored two consecutive points to increase its gap to five points at 11-6. Bown and Nnamani tallied back-to-back kills to slice the deficit down to three at 14-11. The U.S. battled to within two at 15-13 with a Bown kill and Nnamani block. Poland regained its four-point edge at 18-14 with back-to-back points. Tom ended a long rally with a kill after a Polish error to cut the gap to two, 18-16. Poland answered by jumping its lead back to six at 23-17 with four straight points and sided out for the 25-19 victory.

Willoughby followed a Nnamani kill with an ace to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead to start the fourth set. Nnamani hammered a kill and rotated to the backrow to serve an ace extending the Team USA lead to 5-2. After a timeout, Bown added a block and Nnamani slammed a kill from the backrow increasing the advantage to 7-2. Poland inched to two at 9-7 with three straight points. Tom struck consecutive kills and Joines put up a block to return the U.S. in front by five, 13-8. Tom added a fourth straight point with a block at 14-8. Poland chipped off three points of its deficit with a 4-1 run at 15-12. Willoughby downed a kill and followed with an ace to push the Team USA lead to 21-16. Tom added a third straight point with a kill extending the advantage to six points at 22-16. The U.S. traded points the rest of the set as Bown provided kills for the last two U.S. points at 25-19.

The U.S. fell behind 3-0 in the fifth set, but answered with three straight points of its own with a Nnamani block, Tom kill and Willoughby ace. Team USA picked up a 5-4 edge with Tom and Nnamani kills, then extended the lead to 7-5 after a Bown kill and Tom block. After trailing 8-6 at the switch, Poland roared back to take a 10-9 lead on a 4-1 spurt. Nnamani put up her second block of the set to tie it at 11-all, which started a 3-0 run that included a Scott-Arruda block and Tom kill after Poland had troubles handling Willoughby’s serve for a 13-11 advantage. Poland gained the serve back and tie the set at 13-all with an ace. Tom ended the set with a block and kill to finish with six points in the tiebreaker.

U.S. Women’s Indoor Volleyball Olympic Roster
# - Name (Pos, Ht, Hometown, Colloege)
1 - Ogonna Nnamani (OH, 6-1, Bloomington, Ill., Stanford)
2 - Danielle Scott-Arruda (MB, 6-2, Baton Rouge, La., Long Beach State)
3 - Tayyiba Haneef-Park (OPP, 6-7, Laguna Hills, Calif., Long Beach State)
4 - Lindsey Berg (S, 5-8, Honolulu, Hawaii, Minnesota)
5 - Stacy Sykora (L, 5-10, Burleson, Texas, Texas A&M)
6 - Nicole Davis (L, 5-4, Stockton, Calif., Southern California)
7 - Heather Bown (MB, 6-3, Yorba Linda, Calif., Hawaii)
9 - Jennifer Joines (MB, 6-4, Milpitas, Calif., Pacific)
10 - Kimberly Glass (OH, 6-2, Lancaster, Pa., Arizona)
11 - Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (S, 5-7, Honolulu, Hawaii, Hawaii)
12 - Kim Willoughby (OH, 5-10, Napoleonville, La., Hawaii)
15 - Logan Tom (OH, 6-1, Salt Lake City, Utah, Stanford)

Head Coach: “Jenny” Lang Ping
Assistant Coach: Sue Woodstra
Therapist/Trainer: Li Yong
Technical Consultant: Tom Hogan
Technical Coordinator: Diane French
Team Leader: Joan Powell

Women's 2008 Olympic Games Indoor Volleyball Schedule

Pool A:
Cuba 5-0
USA 4-1
China 2-2
Japan 2-2
Poland 1-4
Venezuela 0-5

Pool B:
Brazil 4-0
Italy 4-0
Russia 2-2
Serbia 2-2
Kazakhstan 1-4
Algeria 0-5

Saturday, Aug. 9 - at Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium
Pool B: Italy def. Russia, 25-20, 17-25, 25-16, 25-23
Pool B: Serbia def. Kazakhstan, 25-21, 25-17, 23-25, 25-21

Saturday, Aug. 9 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Pool B: Brazil def. Algeria, 25-11, 25-11, 25-10
Pool A: Cuba def. Poland, 21-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17
Pool A: China def. Venezuela, 25-13, 25-13, 25-18
Pool A: USA def. Japan, 25-20, 20-25, 25-19, 25-21

Monday, Aug. 11 - at Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium
Pool B: Serbia def. Algeria, 25-14, 25-13, 25-13
Pool B: Italy def. Kazakhstan, 25-19, 25-15, 25-21

Monday, Aug. 11 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Pool A: Cuba def. USA, 25-15, 26-24, 25-17
Pool B: Brazil def. Russia, 25-14, 25-14, 25-16
Pool A: China def. Poland, 22-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-22
Pool A: Japan def. Venezuela, 25-12, 25-17, 25-12

Wednesday, Aug. 13 - at Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium
Pool B: Italy def. Algeria, 25-7, 25-20, 25-12
Pool A: USA def. Venezuela, 25-17, 20-25, 25-14, 25-18

Wednesday, Aug. 13 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Pool B: Russia def. Kazakhstan, 25-19, 25-18, 25-11
Pool B: Brazil def. Serbia, 25-15, 25-13, 25-23
Pool A: Cuba def. China, 18-25, 14-25, 25-23, 32-30, 15-13
Pool A: Japan def. Poland 25-21, 25-20, 18-25, 23-25, 15-11

Friday, Aug. 15 - at Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium
Pool B: Russia def. Algeria 25-11, 25-19, 25-10
Pool B: Brazil def. Kazakhstan, 25-13, 25-6, 27-25

Friday, Aug. 15 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Pool A: Poland def. Venezuela 25-12, 25-12, 25-20
Pool B: Italy def. Serbia, 25-23, 25-20, 25-19
Pool A: USA def. China, 23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20, 15-11
Pool A: Cuba def. Japan 25-17, 25-22, 25-22

Sunday, Aug. 17 - at Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium
Pool B: Kazakhstan def. Algeria, 25-18, 25-20, 17-25, 25-16.
Pool A: Cuba def. Venezuela, 25-20, 25-20, 25-19

Sunday, Aug. 17 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Pool A: USA def. Poland, 18-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-19, 15-13
Pool B: Brazil def. Italy, 25-16, 25-22, 25-17
Pool A: China vs. Japan, 8 p.m.
Pool B: Russia vs. Serbia, 10 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 19 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Women's quarterfinal 01, 10 a.m.
Women's quarterfinal 02, Noon
Women's quarterfinal 03, 8 p.m.
Women's quarterfinal 04, 10 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 21 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Women's semifinal 01, 12:30 p.m.
Women's semifinal 02, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 23 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Women's bronze-medal match, 12:30 p.m.
Women's gold-medal match, 8 p.m.
Women's Award ceremony, 9:50 p.m.