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BEIJING (Aug. 21, 2008) – The U.S. Olympic Women’s Indoor Volleyball Team, ranked fourth in the world by the FIVB, returns to an Olympic gold-medal match for the first time since 1984 after it defeated third-ranked Cuba 25-20, 25-16, 25-17 on Thursday afternoon in the Olympic Games semifinal round at Beijing’s Capital Gymnasium.
The U.S., which has defeated the second- and third-ranked teams in back-to-back matches, play for the gold medal at 8 p.m. on Saturday versus the winner of tonight’s semifinal match between Brazil and host China. Team USA is seeking to end the tournament with its first Olympic Games medal stand appearance since 1992 when it won the bronze medal. The U.S. gained a silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games for its only other medal in women’s indoor volleyball.
“I thought the game would be more difficult,” U.S. Olympic Women’s Indoor Volleyball Head Coach ‘Jenny’ Lang Ping said. "I am happy for myself, but I'm happier for the players. They deserve it. They've worked hard for three or four years and cooperated well.
"When we played Cuba, we lost in straight sets, but we never won in straight sets. But today when I was sitting on bench, I didn't have any worries -- especially the older players, they did a fantastic job.”
Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) sparked the U.S. with a team-leading 12 points, providing nine kills and three aces. Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) added seven kills on 13 attacks, three blocks and an ace. Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.), playing in her fourth Olympic Games and now guaranteed her first medal, charted nine points via six kills on 10 attacks, two aces and a block.
“Our goal all along the four years is to do what we didn't do in Athens, to get the gold medal,” Haneef-Park said. “Tomorrow a new day of practice and we will come out here to give what we can.”
Kim Willoughby (Napoleonville, La.), despite not starting a single set, scored six kills on nine errorless attacks. Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.) totaled five kills on 10 attacks. Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) added two points and Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu) rounded out the scoring with an ace.
“I think the team came together,” Glass said. “The first time we played (Cuba), they kicked our butts but that did not deter us. We always fight. We came together as one unit.”
Ah Mow-Santos created 11 assists on 44 attempts to lead to 35 kills on 71 attacks. Tom contributed a match-high 10 digs to go with 15 excellent service receptions on 19 errorless attempts. Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) added seven digs and 12 excellent receptions on 14 attempts.
“We have gone through difficult times since the beginning of the Olympics,” Haneef-Park said. “We haven’t shown the level we’d trained at, but we are improving.”
“If we have the heart and the soul, we can go out there with anybody,” Bown said in reference to playing either Brazil or China in the gold-medal match. “I feel amazing. It’s a little surreal right now. It was a full team effort and we have a lot of work to do. It’s not over yet.”
The U.S. attacked at a 38.0 hitting efficiency (kills minus errors divided by attacks) while limiting Cuba to a 24.4 efficiency. The U.S. held a 6-1 service ace advantage, while Cuba committed 14 service errors to the Americans’ five. Overall, the Americans gave away just 10 points on miscues, while Cuba committed 29 errors for the match. Team USA also turned in an 80.5 successful serve reception percentage.
Cuba, ranked third in the world and the only team to defeat the Americans during the 2008 Olympic Games, will play for the bronze medal against Brazil or China. Cuba has won the gold medal at the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games.
The U.S. broke an 11-all tie in the opening set with a 3-0 run capped by two Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) aces. After trading sideouts through 22-19, the Americans increased their lead to five with a Cuban error and Scott-Arruda kill at 24-19. Willoughby ended the set with a kill at 25-20.
“We knew we had to jump quickly on it or it would be a long, drawn out set,” Glass said. “Our coach told us to come back in and focus on getting the next ball. We rallied together. It was beautiful, but it’s not over yet.”
Team USA came back from a 4-2 deficit in the second set to take an 8-4 lead at the first technical timeout on a 6-0 spurt as Scott-Arruda started the run with a kill and ended it with an ace. The Cubans answered with two quick points, but Haneef-Park answered with two kills and an ace around a Bown block to push the advantage to 12-6. The U.S. put the match out of reach with three unanswered points at 23-14 with kills from Tom and Willoughby, who ended the set with a kill at 25-16.
Tom scored a block to end a 3-0 run giving the Americans a 3-1 advantage in the third set. She added an ace after a Bown kill to push the lead to 6-3. Scott-Arruda tallied a block and kill around a Cuban error to extend the advantage to 12-7, only to have Cuba make a final push with three straight points closing back to two at 12-10. Haneef-Park collected a kill after two Cuban errors to increase the lead to 21-15. Willoughby ended the match with three straight kills at 25-17 as she earned the concluding point of all three sets.
Earlier in the tournament, Cuba dominated Team USA 25-15, 26-24, 25-17 in a three-set match on Aug. 11 during pool play. Cuba held a 6-1 ace advantage in its earlier victory and had just 16 errors. Further, the U.S. compiled just a 62.3 successful reception percentage in the match.
For the semifinal rematch of the pool match, the U.S. started captain Ah Mow-Santos at setter, Scott-Arruda and Bown at middle blocker, Tom and Glass at outside hitter and Haneef-Park at opposite. Davis is the designated libero for the U.S. during the Olympic Games. Willoughby and Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) were subbed into all three sets as part of a double-switch.
The U.S. finished with a 4-1 record in Pool A behind only Cuba’s 5-0 record. The Americans advanced to the semifinals with a five-set rally over second-ranked Italy, while Cuba swept Serbia in its quarterfinal match.
Cuban captain Yumilka Ruiz and Rosir Calderon tallied nine points apiece in the loss. Nancy Carrillo added eight points, while Daimi Ramirez chipped in seven points.
The U.S.-Cuba series has been a true test of endurance for the NORCECA rivals over the last two years. Cuba has won both matches played this year, while the U.S. won three of the four matches in 2007. Four of the six matches since 2007 have gone five sets, with another going four sets. Cuba holds an 88-48 record over the U.S. since 1983.
The route through the Olympic Games has been an emotional roller coaster for the American squad. On its first day of competition on Aug. 9, 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, 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 in five sets. It concluded the five-match round-robin pool with a five-set come-from-behind victory over Poland. For the third straight match, the U.S. fell behind 2-1 in sets only to rally to defeat second-ranked Italy in the quarterfinals.
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.
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.
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
Past Olympic Games Women’s Champions
1964: Japan (USA 5th)
1968: Soviet USA (USA 8th)
1972: Soviet Union (USA did not qualify)
1976: Japan (USA did not qualify)
1980: Soviet Union (USA did not play due to boycott)
1984: China (USA Silver)
1988: Soviet Union (USA 7th)
1992: Cuba (USA 3rd)
1996: Cuba (USA 7th)
2000: Cuba (USA 4th)
2004: China (USA 5th)
Women's 2008 Olympic Games Indoor Volleyball Schedule
Tuesday, Aug. 19 – Quarterfinal Round at Capital Indoor Stadium
1A Cuba def. 4B Serbia, 26-24, 25-19, 26-24
1B Brazil def. 4A Japan, 25-12, 25-20, 25-16
3A China def. 3B Russia, 25-22, 27-25, 25-19
2A USA def. 2B Italy, 20-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-18, 15-6
Thursday, Aug. 21 – Semifinals at Capital Indoor Stadium
2A USA def. 1A Cuba, 25-20, 25-16, 25-17
1B Brazil vs. 3A China, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 23 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
1A Cuba vs. 1B Brazil/3A China loser, 12:30 p.m.
2A USA vs. 1B Brazil/3A China winner, 8 p.m.
Women's Award ceremony, 9:50 p.m.
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 def. Japan, 26-24, 25-16, 25-14
Pool B: Russia def. Serbia, 25-21, 25-16, 25-20