U.S. Women Fall to Cuba in Five-Set Heartbreaker

July 11, 2008, 4:57 a.m. (ET)

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


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 11, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Indoor Volleyball Team lost a five set match to NORCECA zone rival Cuba 22-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-21, 15-11 Friday afternoon on day three of the round robin FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan.

After Cuba gained a 5-2 lead in the first set with three blocks, the U.S. recovered to take a lead at 10-9 and battled its way to a 25-22 victory to start the match. Other than opponent blocks, Team USA limited its errors to two for the opening set. The U.S. broke an 11-all tie in the second set with a 9-2 run and ran away with a 25-17 victory. Cuba gained a 14-10 lead on five straight points in the third set, then took a 24-17 lead on 7-1 spurt en route to a 25-18 victory. Cuba scored four unanswered points to take a 14-12 lead in the fourth set and went on to win 25-21 despite having 11 errors in the period. Cuba gained an 8-5 lead at the crossover in the tiebreaker, then scored four of the last five points of the match for a 15-11 victory to cap the comeback.

“It was a pretty good game,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach ‘Jenny’ Lang Ping said. “When we are under a little bit of pressure from passing, our block defence system has not played well, especially in the third set. Against Cuba they all have six rotations with three hitters and this makes it hard for us. We could do better and that is what we need to learn from the game.”

In other World Grand Prix matches played later today, Brazil defeated China 25-18, 25-16, 21-25, 25-18 and Japan (0-2) hosts Italy (1-1). Cuba improves to 3-0 along with Brazil, while USA falls to 1-2 in the Final Round.

The World Grand Prix Final Round is a round-robin format with each team playing five matches in five days. Team USA challenges Italy on July 12 at 2:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. MT on July 11) before concluding the Finals on July 13 against Olympic Games host China at 11:30 a.m. (8:30 p.m. MT on July 12). Team USA dropped its Final Round opener on July 9 to Brazil 25-19, 25-19, 25-23, followed by a 26-28, 25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 15-11 victory over Japan on July 10.

Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) scored a team-high 16 points for the U.S. with 13 kills, two aces and a block. Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) added 15 points with 12 kills, two aces and a block. She also had 14 excellent service receptions on 20 attempts to go with eight digs. Ogonna Nnamani (Bloomington, Ill.) chipped in 12 points all on kills and 21 attacks with one error. Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) totaled seven kills, two blocks and an ace in her first start of the Final Round. Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) charted five kills on eight attacks, one block and one ace in the loss. Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) added four kills on five swings in limited action coming off the bench. Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) recorded a team-high 11 digs in the match, along with 13 excellent service receptions on 25 errorless attempts. Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) produced 11 assists as the U.S. connected for kills on 44.5 percent of its attacks.

The U.S. started Bown and Akinradewo at middle blocker, Tom and Nnamani at outside hitter, Haneef-Park at opposite and Berg at setter. Sykora is the designated U.S. libero for the Final Round. Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) was a sub in all sets but the fourth. Scott-Arruda started the fifth set in place Akinradewo after coming as a sub in the first and fourth sets. Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.) was a sub in the third and fourth sets, while Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) was a defensive replacement in the fifth set.

“It was a great game,” Berg said. “We played better than in the last two days. We did well in the first and second sets, but then lacked a bit of aggression.”

Cuba held a 69-53 advantage in kills to help offset 36 errors in the match, 18 of which were on its serve. Cuba also held margins of 9-5 in blocks and 7-6 in aces. Cuba converted 54.3 percent of its attacks into kills, but had 16 attack errors on 127 swings. The U.S. held a 35-25 advantage in digs.

The U.S. and Cuba have both qualified for the Olympics and are grouped in the same pool. The two countries will meet on Aug. 11 in the second match of pool play.

Yumilka Ruiz Luaces led Cuba with 20 points, all on kills, while Kenia Carcaces Opon matched the point total with 18 kills, one block and one ace. Zoila Barros Fernandez added 13 points in the victory including a match-high four blocks, while Daimi Ramirez Echevarria charted 12 points.

“We are very happy to have won against a team as strong as the United States,” Ruiz said. “We did not play well in the first and second sets and could not play at our own pace. When Barros is on the court she always makes us stable.”

The 2008 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round has six teams all qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Brazil is currently ranked first in the world by FIVB, followed by second-ranked Italy, third-ranked Cuba, fourth-ranked USA, sixth-ranked China and eighth-ranked Japan. Most teams at the World Grand Prix Final Round will be using the five matches as evaluation tools to select their Olympic Games 12-player roster. In addition, the structure of the tournament makes it difficult for coaches to play the same lineup five consecutive days due to fatigue.

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.

Team USA finished with a 7-2 record and in fourth place in the FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary round. The FIVB World Grand Prix includes three preliminary round weekends with three different sites each weekend hosting round-robin events of four teams. The top five teams in the preliminary round along with the host country comprise the Final Round field.

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).

Cuba opened the match with a 4-1 lead with three blocks in the first set. The Cubans increased their advantage to 6-2. Team USA cut the gap in half to 7-5 with a Tom ace after a Cuban error. Nnamani scored consecutive kills to close the U.S. to within one at 8-7. Akinradewo and Haneef-Park collected back-to-back kills to tie the set at 9-all, then Nnamani added a kill to give the U.S. its first lead at 10-9. The lead shifted back to Cuba at 11-10, but Team USA answered with an Akinradewo block after a Cuba error to regain the lead at 12-11. Cuba responded with two consecutive points to take a 13-12 advantage. Haneef-Park powered home a kill followed by a Cuba error to push the U.S. in front 15-14. Cuba reached the second technical timeout with the lead at 16-15. However, Team USA responded with a 3-0 run with a Cuba error followed by a Nnamani kill and Tom ace for an 18-16 American advantage. The U.S. stretched its lead to 23-19 with a Nnamani kill, Tom block and Cuban error. Cuba cut the deficit in half with consecutive points at 23-21. Tom scored the set’s final point with a kill at 25-22. Nnamani was credited with five kills to lead the U.S. offense in the opening set.

Team USA used a 4-1 run to take a 4-2 lead in the second set with kills coming from Nnamani, Haneef-Park and Tom. Cuba answered by knotting the score at 4-all. After a Cuba error, Haneef-Park scored an ace to push the U.S. in front 6-4. Cuba came back to tie the set at 10-all with back-to-back points. Bown collected a kill and Haneef-Park followed with an ace to lift Team USA in front 13-11. The U.S. extended the run to four at 15-11 with a Cuba error and Tom kill. Nnamani tallied a kill after a Bown block to increase the American lead to 17-12. Cuba added an error to the run presenting the U.S. an 18-12 lead. Bown and Nnamani added consecutive kills to extend the lead to seven, 20-13. Cuba tacked on consecutive points to claw to within five, 22-17. Akinradewo served an ace after a Cuban error to give Team USA a 24-17 score. Cuba failed to save a set point as it committed an error at 25-17. Haneef-Park scored a team-leading five points in the second set, including two aces.

Cuba jumped to a 2-0 lead in the third set, but Akinradewo and Tom scored consecutive kills to tie the set at 2-all. Cuba regained a two-point cushion at 5-3. Haneef-Park followed a Cuba error with a kill to tie the set at 7-all. Akinradewo added a block to the run of three points to give the U.S. an 8-7 lead at the technical timeout. Cuba scored five unanswered points to assume a 14-10 lead. Team USA cut the deficit to one with an Akinradewo and Tom kill and Cuba error at 14-13. Cuba pushed its lead to seven at 24-17 with a 7-1 spurt. After a Tom kill, Cuba ended the set at 25-18. Akinradewo scored five points in the third set to lead the U.S.

The U.S. took a 3-1 lead in the fourth set on three straight Cuba errors. Cuba came back to tie the set at 5-all and grabbed an 8-7 lead at the technical timeout. The U.S. came out of the break with a Nnamani kill and Haneef-Park block to take a 9-8 lead. Cuba regained the lead at 11-10. Back-to-back Cuba errors reversed the lead to the U.S. at 13-12. Haneef-Park scored a kill after Cuba’s nine error of the set to give the U.S. a two-point cushion at 14-12. However, Cuba came back with four unanswered points to take a 16-14 advantage at the second technical timeout. Two Cuba errors tied the set at 16-all, but Cuba came back with four straight points for a 20-16 lead. A Bown and Tom kill cut the deficit to two at 20-18. Cuba gained four set points at 24-20 with consecutive points. Cuba ended the match at 25-21.

Cuba scored three straight points to take a 4-2 lead early in the fifth set. Cuba increased its margin to three at 7-4. Tom followed a Cuba error with a kill to close the deficit to one, 9-8. Cuba reached a 13-10 lead with consecutive points. After Tom stopped the run with a kill, Cuba ended the set with two additional points at 15-11.

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

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

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round
# - Name (Pos, Ht, Hometown, College)
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/OH, 6-7, Laguna Hills, Calif., Long Beach State)
4 - Lindsey Berg (S, 5-8, Honolulu, Hawai’i, 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., 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)
15 - Logan Tom (OH, 6-1, Salt Lake City, 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 Final Round Standings
Brazil 3-0
Cuba 3-0
Italy 1-1 (vs. Japan later today)
USA 1-2
China 0-3
Japan 0-2 (vs. Italy later today

World Grand Prix Final Round: Yokohama, Japan
July 9: Brazil def. USA, 25-19, 25-19, 25-23
July 9: Italy def. China, 22-25, 29-27, 20-25, 25-20, 15-9
July 9: Cuba def. Japan, 19-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-19
July 10: Cuba def. China, 25-21, 20-25, 26-24, 25-16
July 10: Brazil def. Italy, 25-20, 25-17, 25-23
July 10: USA def. Japan 26-28, 25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 15-11
July 11: Brazil vs. China, 25-18, 25-16, 21-25, 25-18
July 11: Cuba def. USA, 22-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-21, 15-11
July 11: Japan vs. Italy, 6:30 p.m. (3:30 a.m. MT)
July 12: Brazil vs. Cuba, 11:30 a.m. (8:30 p.m. MT on July 11)
July 12: Italy vs. USA, 2:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. MT on July 11)
July 12: Japan vs. China, 6 p.m. (3 a.m. MT)
July 13: USA vs. China, 11:30 a.m. (8:30 p.m. MT on July 12)
July 13: Cuba vs. Italy, 2:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. MT on July 12)
July 13: Japan vs. Brazil, 6 p.m. (3 a.m. MT)

FIVB World Grand Prix Final Preliminary Round 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 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

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