U.S. Women Unable to Rally Past Italy

July 12, 2008, 4:33 a.m. (ET)

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


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 12, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Indoor Volleyball Team, ranked fourth in the world, dropped a 25-17, 26-28, 25-19, 25-19 match to second-ranked Italy Saturday afternoon on day four of the round robin FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan.

Italy bolted to an 8-3 lead in the first set and never allowed the U.S. back into the hunt with a 25-17 victory. The second set looked much the same as Italy grabbed a 9-3 lead, but Team USA came back to win 28-26 sparked by the emergence of Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) off the bench to score five points. The U.S. came back from an 8-4 deficit in the third set to tie the set at 10-all, but Italy used nine American errors in the set and a 7-2 run to close out the frame for a 25-19 victory. Italy rallied from a 17-14 deficit in the fourth set by scoring 11 of the final 13 points for a 25-19 victory.

“I think Italy played a great game, especially in defense and blocking,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach ‘Jenny’ Lang Ping. “I think we have so many unforced errors and that is a big area we need to improve, but also we are happy to give this opportunity to young players. I think the young players played well, especially No. 19 Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.). I think she has a lot of potential. We need to be patient and keep her working. She is still a student, with one year to graduate from Stanford. She is a very smart student and has not had enough training with the national team.”

In other World Grand Prix matches played later today, Brazil (4-0) defeated Cuba (3-1) 25-14, 25-15, 25-20 in the battle of undefeated teams. Japan (1-2) hosts China (0-3) at 6 p.m. Japan Time. Brazil is in first place all by itself, followed by second-place Cuba. Italy (2-2) moves into third place. Japan (1-2) can move into a tie for third and ahead of the USA (1-3) with a victory tonight, while China (0-3) is currently in last place.

The World Grand Prix Final Round is a round-robin format with each team playing five matches in five days. Team concludes the Final Round 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. The U.S. led Cuba 2-0 in sets on July 11 before losing in five sets 22-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-21, 15-11.

Akinradewo and Ogonna Nnamani (Bloomington, Ill.) tied for the U.S. point lead with 18. Akinradewo netted 14 kills on 29 attempts to go with a match-high four blocks. Nnamani totaled 15 kills, two blocks and an ace, while adding nine excellent service receptions on 25 attempts and one fault. Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) produced 12 points with 11 kills and an ace. She handled five digs to go with 14 excellent service receptions on 30 errorless attempts. Scott-Arruda finished the match with nine points on seven kills via 12 swings and two blocks. Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.) contributed five kills on 14 errorless attacks, one block and one ace off the bench. Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) charted three blocks and 31 assists, while Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) tallied three kills. Heather Bown rounded out the scoring with a kill. Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) tallied 20 digs of Team USA’s 33 digs in the loss.

“Once again it was a tough game,” Berg said. “For USA as a positive was that we got to play a lot of our younger players and give one of our younger middles and outsides some real good experience against a real good Italian team. We are very fortunate we got the opportunity to do that and to grow as a team. We are just going to keep getting better every day and hopefully tomorrow we can get a win.”

The U.S. started Bown and Akinradewo at middle blocker, Tom and Nnamani at outside hitter, Barboza at opposite and Berg at setter. All but Bown and Berg in the starting lineup are past or current players for Stanford University. Sykora is the designated U.S. libero for the Final Round. Scott-Arruda and Glass started the third and fourth sets after subbing into the second set. Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) came off the bench as defensive replacement in the third and fourth sets, while Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) made a brief appearance in the second set.

Team USA held a 12-5 advantage over Italy in blocks, but its own 26 errors proved costly in comparison to the victor’s 12. Italy also put pressure on the U.S. from the first point of contact with a 10-3 ace margin. The U.S. managed only a 35.1 excellent service reception perception due to the Italian serve, just slightly lower than Italy’s 37.50 percent. Italy scored kills on 48.4 percent of its attacks, while Team USA was limited to a 39.7 percent by the Italian defense.

Serena Ortolani sparked Italy with 20 points on 19 kills and a block. Taismary Aguero added 14 kills and three aces in the victory. Sara Anzanello chipped in six kills, three blocks and two aces for the Italians.

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).

Italy led 4-1 early in the first set with a block, ace and U.S. error. Barboza and Akinradewo answered with consecutive kills to pull to one, 4-3. Italy responded with a 5-0 run to take a 9-3 advantage. Italy jumped its lead to seven at 14-7 with back-to-back points. Italy extended its lead to nine points at 20-11 with a 3-0 run. Berg put up a block after a Nnamani kill to close the gap to 20-13. Italy regained its nine-point spread at 23-14 with consecutive points. USA cut the gap to seven at 23-16 with a Barboza kill. Italy ended the set at 25-17 on its second chance. Nnamani and Akinradewo each tallied four points in the first set as Italy scored three of its points on aces.

Italy gained a two-point cushion at 3-1 in the second set, then pushed the gap further to 6-2 on three unanswered points. As in the first set, Italy took a five-point lead into the first technical timeout at 8-3, then increased the margin to six at 9-3 as part of a 3-0 run. Akrinradewo and Nnamani tallied consecutive kills to cut the lead to four, 11-7. Tom scored consecutive kills to pull Team USA to three, 12-9. Tom served an ace after a Scott-Arruda kill to pull the Americans to within two, 14-12. Italy upped its lead to four at 17-13 with points on each side of the second technical timeout. Akinradewo and Nnamani powered down kills and Glass put up a block to knot the score at 18-all. The USA took the lead at 20-19, but Italy regained the lead at 21-20. Scott-Arruda put up a block followed by a Glass ace to put the U.S. back in front 22-21. Italy earned the first set point at 24-23 with consecutive points. The U.S. saved the point with a Nnamani kill, followed by a Italian error to give the Americans set point at 25-24. Akinradewo netted a kill to yield a third set point attempt, and Nnamani ended it at 28-26 with an ace. Nnanami and Akinradewo totaled six points apiece in the period, while Tom added five points.

Italy scored the first two points of the third set. Akinradewo scored a kill followed by a Nnamani block to tie the set at 2-all. Italy responded with a 2-0 run of its own to stake a 4-2 lead and pushed it to 8-4 moments later with a 4-1 spurt. Scott-Arruda tallied consecutive kills out of the technical timeout to cut the Italian lead to 8-6. Scott-Arruda downed a kill followed by an Akinradewo block to move the U.S. to within one, 9-8. Back-to-back Italian errors tied the set at 10-all as the Americans put together a 6-2 run. Italy scored consecutive points to gain a two-point cushion at 12-10. Akinradewo and Nnamani turned in back-to-back kills to tie the set again at 12-all. Italy took a 15-13 lead with back-to-back points. The teams traded points until Italy was able to score twice in a row at 20-17, then added a third consecutive point for a 21-17 advantage. Italy extended the gap to five points at 23-18 and ended the set at 25-19. Team USA committed nine errors in the set.

The U.S. picked up a 4-1 lead to begin the fourth set with kills from Tom and Nnamani followed by an Italian error and Akinradewo block. Italy moved to within one at 6-5 with consecutive points. Italy scored back-to-back points out of the first technical timeout to tie the set at 8-all. Akinradewo stopped the run with a kill and Glass followed with consecutive kills to move the U.S. back in front, 11-8. Italy sliced the gap to one at 12-11. Team USA reached the second technical timeout with a 16-13 advantage after a Tom kill and Italy error. Italy went on a 9-1 run to take a 23-18 advantage. After a Nnamani kill stopped the seven unanswered Italian points, the match ended 25-19 with two additional Italy points.

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 4-0
Cuba 3-1
Italy 2-2
Japan 1-2
USA 1-3
China 0-3

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 def. Italy, 25-23, 25-22, 26-24
July 12: Brazil def. Cuba, 25-14, 25-15, 25-20
July 12: Italy def. USA, 25-17, 26-28, 25-19, 25-19
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