U.S. Women Drop Match to Italy Heading into Grand Prix Final Round

July 06, 2008, 7:46 a.m. (ET)

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

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 6, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Indoor Volleyball Team had its seven-match win streak ended Sunday afternoon with a 25-22, 25-21, 25-16 loss to second-ranked Italy during FIVB World Grand Prix Pool H action at Taipei, Chinese Taipei.

Aside from evaluating players to help determine the 12-player Olympic Games roster, the main goal over the nine-match preliminary round schedule was accomplished the day before by qualifying for the World Grand Prix Final Round set for July 9-13 at Yokohoma, Japan. Similarly, Team USA and Italy met last year in the FIVB World Cup final match with both teams already earning berths into the 2008 Olympic Games.

The U.S. finishes the preliminary round with a 7-2 record with losses to Italy in the finale and Turkey in the opener. Italy moves ahead of Team USA in the standings with an 8-1 record, but the records are erased during the six-team, round-robin Finals format. Brazil defeated previously undefeated China 25-21, 25-17, 25-20 today creating a three-way tie at the top with Italy, Brazil and China. However, Brazil won out on the points scored ratio of 1.199 over China’s 1.140 and Italy’s 1.124. Although meaning nothing going into the Finals round, Team USA finishes fourth and Cuba gains the fifth spot with a 6-3 record. The sixth and final World Grand Prix team is Japan as the tournament host.

The FIVB World Grand Prix includes three preliminary round weekends with three different sites each weekend hosting round-robin events of four teams. The World Grand Prix Finals, a round-robin format of the top five teams from the preliminary round plus host Japan, will be played July 9-13 at Yokohoma, Japan. The overall ranking in the preliminary rounds is decided by the total number of World Grand Prix Points (GPP) gained by the teams in the preliminary matches with two points awarded for a win and one point for a loss.

The U.S. has not qualified for the World Grand Prix Final Round since 2004, the last Olympic Games year. The Americans finished third in 2004, followed by eighth place in 2005, seventh place in 2006 and eighth place in 2007. Team USA has won the premier annual event in 1995 and 2001. Brazil has won three of the last four titles, while defending champion Netherlands failed to qualify for this year’s World Grand Prix. Italy has medaled in the last four World Grand Prix events with silver medals in 2004 and 2005, and bronze medals in 2006 and 2007. China, the 2008 World Grand Prix leader, finished second last year as it hosted the Finals in Ningbo.

Italy racked up a 5-1 run after trailing 13-12 in the first set en route to a 25-22 victory. Italy jumped to a 5-1 lead in the second set, but needed to withstand a Team USA late charge to win 25-21. Italy scored six of seven points to take a 12-8 lead in the third set and controlled the rest of the match with a 25-16 victory.

“We did well in the first two sets,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach ‘Jenny’ Lang Ping said. “But we had too many unforced errors which dragged us down at critical moments. Italy played a smooth game and deserved the result.”

Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.), starting for the first time in the FIVB World Grand Prix, led the U.S. with nine kills on 15 errorless attacks, one block and one ace for 11 points. Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) added eight kills, one block and one ace for 10 points. Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.) contributed six points on five kills and one block. Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) produced a match-high four blocks with a kill for five points. Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) tacked on four kills and a block for five points. Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) and Kristin Richards (Orem, Utah) both came off the bench to score two kills. Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) charted a team-high six digs and eight excellent service receptions. Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) added 17 assists.

The U.S. started Berg at setter, Haneef-Park at opposite, Tom and Glass at outside hitter, and Bown and Akinradewo at middle blocker. Davis is the designated libero for Team USA at this leg of the World Grand Prix. Barboza subbed into the match in both the first and third sets, while Richards came off the bench in the second set.

Although the U.S. led Italy 8-4 in blocks, the Italians held a commanding 46-31 advantage in kills. Both teams served two aces. Italy converted 43.0 percent of its attacks into kills compared to the Americans’ 33.0 percent. On serve-receive, Team USA managed only a 33.9 excellent service reception percent in contrast to the Italians’ 49.1 percent.

Taismary Aguero recorded a match-high 17 points on 16 kills and a block to lead Italy. Francesca Piccinini and Martina Guiggi added nine points apiece, while Serena Ortolani added seven points.

The U.S. and Italy last met on the final day of the 2007 FIVB World Cup in what turned out to the championship match. Italy won the contest in straight sets as U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach “Jenny” Lang Ping elected to rest a couple players after reaching the primary goal of 2008 Olympic Games qualification at the tournament.

In other World Grand Prix matches played today, Poland defeated Turkey 25-21, 25-22, 25-22 for its first victory of the World Grand Prix, Cuba edged Thailand 25-20, 25-22, 23-25, 17-25, 15-9, Germany topped Kazakhstan 25-15, 25-19, 25-19 and Dominican Republic downed Japan 26-24, 25-13, 25-18.

The U.S. has qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and is using the World Grand Prix as an evaluation tool to help determine the 12-player roster for the Olympic Games. Team USA faces Japan on Aug. 9 to open the 2008 Olympic Games. Other teams in the American pool are Cuba (Aug. 11), Venezuela (Aug. 13), China (Aug. 15) and Poland (Aug. 17).

Italy gained the first two-point cushion of the opening set at 3-1, but the U.S. answered with three consecutive points with a Bown block and Haneef-Park kill to take a 4-3 advantage. Italy responded with back-to-back points to regain a 5-4 lead. Haneef-Park collected a kill followed by an Italian error to push the Americans in front 6-5. Italy scored three straight points to assume a 9-7 lead. An Italian error after a Glass kill tied the set at 9-all. Team USA regained the lead at 12-11 on two Akinradewo kills and an Italian error. The lead shifted back to Italy at 14-13 and the Italians added to the run at 15-13. Italy extended its lead to 17-14 as part of a 5-1 run. After trading several points, Italy increased its margin to four points at 21-17. Akinradewo cut the deficit in half at 22-20 with a kill and ace. Italy ended the set at 25-22 on its second set point opportunity. Akinradewo led the U.S. with six points.

Italy scored four unanswered points including two aces to take an early 5-1 lead in the second set. Glass scored a kill and Haneef-Park added a block to cut into the lead at 5-3. The teams traded points until Italy put back-to-back points together at 13-9 and went on to take a 16-10 lead at the second technical timeout. Richards scored a kill followed by an Italian error to slice to deficit to 16-12. Glass tacked on a kill after an Italian error to close the U.S. to within three at 18-15. Haneef-Park collected back-to-back kills and Bown added a block to inch Team USA to one at 19-18. Italy pushed its lead back to four at 24-20 on a 4-1 run. Haneef-Park saved on set point with a kill, but Italy ended the set at 25-21. Haneef-Park scored five points in the second set to lead Team USA.

Italy rolled to a 2-0 lead to start the third set, but the U.S. took the lead at 3-2 with two Haneef-Park kills and an Italian error. Italy broke a string of sideouts by scoring four unanswered points to take a 10-7 advantage. Italy extended its lead to 12-8 with back-to-back points. Team USA cut the deficit to one at 12-11 with a Glass kill and Tom block. Italy answered with three consecutive points to push the lead back to four, 15-11. Italy packed in three straight points to take a half-dozen lead at 19-13. After a Barboza kill, Italy added four more consecutive points to its ledger for a 23-14 advantage and went on to a 25-16 victory.

To download the U.S. Women’s National Team Press Kit for the third FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary weekend, visit click here.

To view the FIVB World Grand Prix home page, visit click here.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB World Grand Prix Weekend in Taipei
# - Name (Pos, Ht, Hometown, College)
2 - Danielle Scott-Arruda (MB, 6-2, Baton Rouge, La., Long Beach State)
3 - Tayyiba Haneef-Park (OPP/OH, 6-7, Laguna Hills, Calif., Long Beach State)
4 - Lindsey Berg (S, 5-8, Honolulu, Hawai’i, Minnesota)
6 - Nicole Davis (L, 5-4, Stockton, Calif., Southern California)
7 -
Heather Bown (MB, 6-3, Yorba Linda, Calif., Hawai’i)
8 - Cynthia Barboza (OH/OPP, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Stanford)
10 - Kim Glass (OH, 6-2, Lancaster, Pa., Arizona)
11 - Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (S, 5-8, Honolulu, Hawai’i, Hawai’i)
14 - Kim Willoughby (OH, 5-10, Napoleonville, La., Hawai’i)
15 - Logan Tom (OH, 6-1, Salt Lake City, Utah, Stanford)
18 - Kristin Richards (OH, 6-1, Orem, Utah, Stanford)
19 - Foluke Akinradewo (MB, 6-3, Plantation, Fla., Stanford)
Head Coach: “Jenny” Lang Ping
Assistant Coaches: Sue Woodstra, Tom Hogan, Li Yong (not traveling)
Technical Coordinator: Diane French
Team Leader/Manager: Joan Powell

FIVB World Grand Prix Standings
Brazil 8-1 (1.199 Point Ratio)
China 8-1 (1.140 Point Ratio)
Italy 8-1 (1.124 Point Ratio)
USA 7-2 (1.161 Point Ratio)
Cuba 6-3 (1.090 Point Ratio)
Turkey 4-5 (1.015 Point Ratio)
Germany 4-5 (1.001 Point Ratio)
Dominican Republic 4-5 (0.953 Point Ratio)
Japan 2-7 (0.870 Point Ratio)
Poland 1-8 (0.898 Point Ratio)
Thailand 1-8 (0.862 Point Ratio)
Kazakhstan 1-8 (0.761 Point Ratio)

Pool G: Bangkok, Thailand, Huamark Stadium
July 4: Kazakhstan def. Thailand, 25-19, 25-19, 19-25, 17-25, 16-14
July 4: Cuba def. Germany, 23-25, 25-21, 25-8, 25-21
July 5: Germany def. Thailand, 25-18, 25-15, 25-16
July 5: Cuba def. Kazakhstan, 22-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-16
July 6: Cuba def. Thailand, 25-20, 25-22, 23-25, 17-25, 15-9
July 6: Germany def. Kazakhstan, 25-15, 25-19, 25-19

Pool H: Taipei, Chinese Taipei, Hsinchuang Gym
July 4: USA def. Poland, 20-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-10
July 4: Italy def. Turkey, 25-20, 21-25, 30-28, 25-23
July 5: USA def. Turkey, 25-16, 25-20, 20-25, 25-17
July 5: Italy def. Poland, 23-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-14, 18-16
July 6: Poland def. Turkey, 25-21, 25-22, 25-22
July 6: Italy def. USA, 25-22, 25-21, 25-16

Pool I: Macau, Macau Forum
July 4: Brazil def. Dominican Republic, 23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-9
July 4: China def. Japan, 25-16, 25-19, 25-15
July 5: Brazil def. Japan, 25-16, 25-21, 25-15
July 5: China def. Dominican Republic, 25-16, 25-22, 25-21
July 6: Dominican Republic def. Japan, 26-24, 25-13, 25-18
July 6: Brazil def. China 25-21, 25-17, 25-20

Final Round: Yokohama, Japan
July 9-13

Pool A: Kobe Japan, Green Arena
June 20: Turkey def. USA, 28-26, 25-16, 21-25, 25-19
June 20: Japan def. Kazakhstan, 25-17, 25-13, 25-23
June 21: USA def. Kazakhstan, 25-16, 25-17, 25-19
June 21: Japan def. Turkey, 21-25, 25-16, 17-25, 25-19, 15-12
June 22: Turkey def. Kazakhstan, 25-17, 26-24, 25-15
June 22: USA def. Japan, 27-29, 25-18, 18-25, 25-16, 15-13

Pool B: Ningbo, China, Beilun Sports Centre
June 20: Brazil def. Thailand, 25-22, 25-18, 25-20
June 20: China def. Germany, 19-25, 25-19, 25-11, 25-21
June 21: China def. Thailand, 25-11, 25-16, 25-19
June 21: Brazil def. Germany, 15-25, 25-23, 25-20, 30-28
June 22: Germany def. Thailand, 19-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-22
June 22: China def. Brazil, 22-25, 26-24, 22-25, 25-22, 15-13

Pool C: Alassio, Italy, Palavavizza Hall
June 20: Cuba def. Poland, 25-20, 29-31, 25-21, 26-24
June 20: Italy def. Dominican Republic, 19-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-15
June 21: Cuba def. Dominican Republic, 25-22, 25-15, 25-19
June 21: Italy def. Poland, 25-17, 25-22, 23-25, 25-16
June 22: Dominican Republic def. Poland, 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 25-23, 15-11
June 22: Italy def. Cuba, 25-23, 27-25, 27-25

Pool D: Vinh Phuc, Vietnam, Vinh Phuc Hall
June 27: Brazil def. Kazakhstan, 25-10, 25-17, 25-19
June 27: Turkey def. Germany, 25-21, 25-22, 25-27, 25-18
June 28: Germany def. Kazakhstan, 25-17, 25-19, 25-21
June 28: Brazil def. Turkey, 25-23, 25-19, 25-15
June 29: Turkey def. Kazakhstan, 25-16, 25-20, 25-17
June 29: Brazil def. Germany, 25-15, 27-25, 25-16

Pool E: Wroclaw, Poland, Centennial Hall
June 27: Dominican Republic def. Poland 25-22, 19-25, 25-17, 25-20
June 27: USA def. Thailand, 25-18, 25-17, 26-28, 25-13
June 28: Thailand def. Poland, 19-25, 25-21, 18-25, 25-23, 15-4
June 28: USA def. Dominican Republic, 25-13, 25-21, 25-20
June 29: USA def. Poland, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20
June 29: Dominican Republic def. Thailand, 25-19, 24-26, 25-21, 25-22

Pool F: Hong Kong, Hong Kong Coliseum
June 27: Italy def. Japan, 25-17, 25-20, 25-22
June 27: China def. Cuba, 25-18, 25-27, 21-25, 25-21, 15-13
June 28: Italy def. Cuba, 21-25, 25-19, 19-25, 25-20, 15-13
June 28: China def. Japan, 25-16, 29-27, 25-22
June 29: Cuba def. Japan, 22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-16
June 29: China def. Italy, 18-25, 25-20, 21-25, 27-25, 15-8