U.S. Women, Brazil Fill Olympic Gold-Medal Match

Aug. 21, 2008, 11:24 a.m. (ET)

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

BEIJING (Aug. 21, 2008) – The U.S. Olympic Women’s Indoor Volleyball Team earned its spot into the 2008 Olympic Games gold-medal match with a defining sweep of Cuba earlier today in the semifinals.

About eight hours later, the Americans’ gold-medal opponent was determined as top-ranked Brazil knocked off host China 27-25, 25-22, 25-14. The fourth-ranked Americans and top-ranked Brazilians will face each other on Saturday at 8 p.m.

Brazil has not dropped a set in its seven matches of the 2008 Olympic Games. Meanwhile, the U.S. has a 6-1 record with three of the victories coming in five sets after trailing 2-1.

USA and Brazil have played 31 times in major FIVB competitions (Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup, World Grand Prix), and the Brazilians hold a slim 16-15 advantage. However, Brazil has won seven of the last meetings. The Americans topped Brazil at the 2007 FIVB World Cup to aid them into qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Earlier this year, USA hosted Brazil in three exhibition matches in Colorado Springs. Brazil won the first match in five sets on June 11, while the U.S. won the second meeting in five sets on June 13. Brazil capped the series with a 4-1 victory (agreed to play five sets) on June 14. Brazil won a fourth meeting of 2008 with a sweep in the first match of the FIVB World Grand Prix on July 9 as the Americans played with a shifting lineup to evaluate talent for the Olympic Games.

Quick Notes on the Gold Medal Match
The U.S. has won two medals at the Olympic Games in women’s indoor volleyball. The Americans won a silver medal in 1984 and a bronze medal in 1992.

Brazil has been one of the top volleyball countries over the past several years. However, it is still searching for its first Olympic Games title. The Brazilians will be playing in its first gold-medal match with previous top finishes being the bronze medal in 1996 and 2000.

Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) is the leading scorer among all players at the 2008 Olympic Games. She has 108 points on 81 kills, 19 blocks and eight aces. The next closest scorer is China’s Yimei Wang with 100 points. Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) is tied for fourth in scoring with 90 points. Tom also ranks ninth in the Best Receiver category with a 52.69 excellent reception success percentage.

Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) ranks ninth in Best Blocker category at the 2008 Olympic Games as she averages 0.55 blocks per set.

Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) is seventh in Best Digger with 2.79 dig average.

“Jenny” Lang Ping, head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, will be making a third appearance in an Olympic Games gold-medal match. She was a star outside hitter for the Chinese national team that won the gold medal over the U.S. at the 1984 Olympic Games. She later went on to coach China to a silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Game.

Lang Ping and U.S. Assistant Coach Sue Woodstra will be on the same side of the court for a gold medal match, unlike 1984. As Lang Ping was the key to China’s gold medal in 1984, Woodstra was part of the U.S. team that earned a silver medal in the event.

The U.S. has concluded its last three Olympic Games with matches against Brazil. The Americans lost the 2000 Olympic Games bronze-medal match to the Brazilians in three sets. Brazil topped the U.S. in a nail-biting five-set match in the quarterfinal round of the 2004 Olympic Games. Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.), Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas), Nicole Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.), Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu) and Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) were a part of those two Olympic Games, and now will have a chance for a third Games-ending match-up versus Brazil.

The U.S. Olympic Games roster has played a combined 1,962 international matches, topped by Danielle Scott-Arruda’s (Baton Rouge, La.) 371 international matches. At age 35, Scott-Arruda is playing in her fourth Olympic Games roster to tie a USA Volleyball record shared with Tara Cross-Battle, who played in her fourth Olympics in 2004. Scott-Arruda has competed in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. Players participating in their third Olympic Games include setter Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu), outside hitter Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah), middle blocker Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) and libero Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas). Opposite Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.), setter Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) and outside hitter Ogonna Nnamani (Bloomington, Ill.) are all repeat selections from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Newcomers to the Olympic Games are outside hitters Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.) and Kim Willoughby (Napoleonville, La.), middle blocker Jennifer Joines (Milpitas, Calif.) and libero Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.).

“Jenny” Lang Ping is a rarity in the international women’s volleyball circles. She is the only female head coach among the top 20 countries listed in the FIVB World Ranking. According to FIVB files, Lang Ping will be moving into company of Hungary women’s team coach Gabriella Kotsis as female coaches to lead teams into multiple Olympics. Kotsis led Hungary during the golden era of Hungarian Volleyball, leading the country into three Olympic Games (1972, 1976, 1980).