July 6, 2008 * Taipei * FIVB World Grand Prix
After qualifying for the finals in Japan by beating Turkey, most of the USA delegation went out – some to Subway, some to McDonald’s others to Starbucks and many went to this particular jewelry store.
If you have been following my journals, you will know that I wrote about a certain player’s purchase of a Gucci purse – and then her mother called her on it!! So my lips are sealed regarding the "bling" some of our contingency purchased. But I do have pictures!!
Everyone was home safe and sound for the morning practice prior to our final match here in Chinese Taipei against Italy.
The starters for tonight’s match had a different look: Berg, Glass, Foluke for Danielle, Tayyiba, Logan and Bown with Davis as the libero. Italy defeated the USA by the scores of 22-25, 21-25, 16-25.
In the first set, the USA team hung in there with the technical time out scores of 7-8 and 14-16. Then Italy took over with their tenacious defense and attack, with added assistance by our errant passing and serving.
In set 2, the starters were the same, only switching the middles, coupling Foluke with Berg. Kristin Richards came in for struggling Logan Tom. We seemed to be behind by three or four points the entire set, finally losing 21-25.
In the third, Cynthia Barboza was subbed in for Tayyiba. Again, we kept our distance, by even more of a spread as Italy played very well. We lost 16-25.
Italy used many of their players throughout the sets – almost maxing out his allotted subs in each of the sets. In the press conference, the Italian coach commented on his changes for all nine of the sets this leg of the WGP. Both coaches commented on how grueling this Grand Prix series is and how in the finals, all players will play as it is impossible to play six players in five days. The Italian coach said, "There are 20 days before a bigger appointment,” meaning, of course, the Olympics!
There was a closing ceremony with all teams marching out and being presented with beautiful bouquets of flowers, followed by some special awards. The “Best Blocker” went to USA’s Danielle Scott-Arruda, who racked up enough points to win the award without having to play tonight. Tayyiba was announced as the “Best Attacker,” followed by what sounded like the award for “Best Setter” Everyone got a chuckle as she hesitated to accept her award. We found out later that it was indeed “Best Server Award.” And then Tayyiba was called upon once again for the “Best Receiver” award.
A stop at the weight room next door for a little work out and off to the bus and back to the hotel to eat and pack. Woo Woo another flight. This time - one airplane – about a three hour flight to Tokyo and then a bus to Yokohama, Japan – and we leave at 12:50 PM – sweet!
Team Leader, U.S. Women's National Team at World Grand Prix