July 9, 2008 * Yokohama, Japan * FIVB World Grand Prix
Can I tell you how great it was to catch a 12:50 flight from Taipei and only travel on one aircraft for three hours?!! SWEET!!
We were met by Gen Kawakita, who was visiting his family and waiting for us to qualify. Gen met Ogonna Nnamani, who arrived from Colorado Springs an hour earlier than we did.
We were greeted by a delegate from the FIVB and went by bus an hour and a half hour to Yokohama. Diane got us settled in with keys and roommates; I spoke to our new interpreter, Toshiko. It was 8:15 p.m. and she informed us that we had a preliminary meeting at 8:30 p.m. We got it moved, prepared all the documents, passports and Robyn’s three uniforms. We all went to dinner and Jenny, Doc and I attended the meeting.
The hotel is gorgeous, but the rooms were very small. I felt like I was on board ship. Kim W was my roommate and we did not have room for our bags! Jenny made mention of this to the control committee; they were well aware as Brazil had already lodged the same complaint.
The next morning, I received an envelope with a letter of apology and an explanation that the team would receive single rooms. That was great news. Off to practice after breakfast. We started in the competition hall’s warm up area for half an hour and then into the main arena.
The team had an afternoon meeting. Stacy arrived and I gave her room key and she joined her teammates in their meeting. Shortly afterwards, most went to eat dinner. The new arrivals, Stacy and Ogonna, were accompanied by Kim G and Nicole Davis for some practice time.
There was electricity on the shared warm up court in preparation for a huge match. Our two fans, Lindsey Berg’s Mom and Grandmother, each caught a souvenir ball during introductions. We started against Brazil with: Berg, Glass, Scott-Arruda, “Trifecta” Tayyiba, Tom, Bown and Sykora as the libero.
The two teams kept even throughout the first phase with Brazil up by one at the first technical time out. Brazil added three more behind #4 Paula Pequeno’s tough serve when the USA team took its first time out. The server added a couple more to make it 13-7 until Glass cranks one off the block.
Brazilian points were earned on some unforced errors to give Brazil the lead at the second technical time out leaving the USA team with only 11.
Berg is replaced by Cynthia Barboza on the right and to complete the double sub – Robin came in for Tayyiba at 17-13, but Brazil earned the 18th point. USA had a spurt and forced the Brazilians to take their first time out at 16-18.
Tough server #4 is replaced by another jump server and we side out easily – thanks Brazil! Then the substitute gets aced by Heather Bown, but Heather misses her next attempt – 20-18. Brazil adds two more and “Jenny” Lang Ping is forced to take a second time out.
Brazil completed a double sub including their setter captain. A mishandled sweaty ball by Robyn gives Brazil 23, followed by a block to Glass. Dani connects back side and we are back to Rotation 1 with Berg on the line. Brazil answers with a right side attack – first set 25-19.
Set 2 includes the same starters. With the help of Tayyiba’s slicing and dicing, USA ties it at 4 a piece. Brazil always kept their distance and the first TTO had the score at 5-8. There was an exchange of points and Coach “Jenny calls a time out at 9-14. At 11-15 USA substituted Ogonna for Glass. A service error by Tom and the buzzer sounds for the second TTO.
Heather handcuffed the receiver, but Tom was handcuffed herself by the attack for 12-18. Then Ogonna got dished and put a powerful hit cross court to make it 13-19. The substitute area yelled to Ty to go down the line, she does to earn a point, followed by Ogonna who smacked one from the pipe – Brazil had to take a time out at 16-19. Logan took a shot to the nose off her block, a replay was whistled by the referees and Logan was subbed by Cynthia Barboza, because of blood.
USA second time out happened at 17-22 while Logan was being attended to by Emery, the trainer and Doctor Ho. Logan came back in at 18-22 after Ogonna got a big touch.
Danielle worked the referee from the bench for a double that does not get whistled. The Japanese referee and Danielle make eye contact and shared a smile! Some great defensive touches on the final point, but to no avail for USA – 19-25.
Set 3 in Rotation 1 with Robyn at the helm and Ogonna for Glass and Foluke for Bown. The final set took on the same appearance as the first two with points see sawing back and forth. The TTO had Brazil up by one.
Back to rotation 1 and the score at 8-9 Brazil. USA earned 9 to Brazil’s 10 when Ogonna serves out the back, but Ty finds the floor down the line and the score was 10-11. USA attacked with everything they had, but Brazil dug it all, leaving the biggest lead of the set 10-14 and a called time out.
Foluke returns the overpass, followed by a Brazilian wide attack and the score goes to 12-15. Double sub for USA – Glass for Robyn and Berg for Ty. Second TTO was at 13-16.
Ogonna came to play as she came out of the huddle and crack an uncontested ball followed by one from Danielle – 15-16. Brazil seems to gives a couple and then is able to turn up the rheostat to always keep the distance comfortable. Ogonna on a broken play tips over the triple block and it was all tied up at 18. Brazil blocked Ogonna and it was time for the double sub again.
A Brazilian point and Nicole Davis got the nod for Ogonna in the back row at 20 all. Logan is able to hit high off the blockers hands for 21-21. Ogonna grabs the wrong paddle and the substitute is denied which left Nicole in the front row! Logan did a huge favor for the team by acing the Brazilians to allow Ogonna back in the line up!!! We were ahead 23-22. A quick attack brought the Brazil double sub and they were serving at 23 each. A great rally ensued, but Brazil got the game point.
Out of the USA’s second time, we hit wide – set, match 23-25.
At the press conference, Lindsey Berg reminded her audience what a good team Brazil is and that the USA needs to concentrate on their side of the net, minimize our errors and get better for the road ahead. Jenny traded compliments with the Brazilian head coach. But it was our opposing coach that said that he knew this was not the USA team – he reminded us that Ogonna and Stacy had just arrived and that this team has not yet jelled.
On to practice . . .
Team Leader, U.S. Women's National Team at World Grand Prix