U.S. Women Gain Last Momentum Shift Over China, 3-2

July 13, 2008, 1:44 a.m. (ET)

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


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 13, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Indoor Volleyball Team, ranked fourth in the world, won a battle of momentum against sixth-ranked China as it used five of Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) match-high 23 kills in the fifth set to win 25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 21-25, 17-15 Sunday afternoon on the final day of the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan.

Team USA concluded the five-matches in five days round-robin Final Round with a 2-3 record. Depending on the outcome of the Cuba-Italy and Japan-Brazil matches later today, the U.S. could finish either with the bronze medal or as low as fifth place. Brazil (4-0) is in first place all by itself, followed by second-place Cuba (3-1) and third-place Italy (2-2). Japan (1-3) has three losses in the first four days of hosting the Final Round, while China finishes with a 1-4 record.

The U.S. broke a 19-all tie in the opening set with a 3-0 run en route to winning 25-23 with only two errors in the set. Team USA jumped to a 4-1 lead in the second set, then used a 6-0 run to create a 14-8 gap in winning comfortably at 25-19. China built a 15-10 lead in the third set, then traded the final 19 points after set for a 25-22 victory after the U.S. came within two at 15-13. China used a key 5-1 run after trailing 7-5 early in the fourth set to and benefited from nine Team USA errors to win 25-21 sending the match into a tiebreaker. The U.S. held its team errors to six in the first two sets it won, while having 18 team errors in the two sets it lost. In the deciding fifth set, Team USA led 5-2, then trailed 11-9 before storming back to take the 17-15 victory.

“We had a very short team meeting before the game and I told them three things,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach ‘Jenny’ Lang Ping. “First, we need to start the game well because normally we start very slowly. Second, every player has to make fewer unforced errors because against Italy we had 35. Third, we try to win one set. I think the players played very well, especially the way we started in the first set.”

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. Yesterday, Italy topped the U.S. 25-17, 26-28, 25-19, 25-19. The Americans, who played three of its five Final Round matches to a full five sets, advanced to the Final Round after finishing fourth in the three weekend Preliminary Round with a 7-2 record.

“All the teams are very close right now and the result could go either way,” Lang Ping said. “We played well but we also had some luck today. We need to improve our level and reduce unforced errors and try to play more consistently.”

Haneef-Park recorded all her points on 23 kills via 44 attacks. Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) added 17 kills on 39 swings and three blocks for 20 points. She added 16 excellent service receptions on 35 attempts with only one fault. Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) added 13 kills on 24 attempts and three blocks for 16 points. Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) contributed 10 kills on 20 attacks and two points in the victory. Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.) totaled 10 points via nine kills on 16 attacks and an ace. Ogonna Nnamani (Bloomington, Ill.), who started just the fifth set after subbing in the first four, compiled six points with five kills on eight errorless swings and an ace. Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) rounded out the scoring with an ace to go with 15 assists. Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) tallied a team-high 17 digs while added 14 excellent service receptions on 26 attempts with one error.

“We are very excited to come out of our last game of this tournament with a win and playing with a lot of heart and fight because that is what we will need in the Olympics,” Berg said. “Everybody on the team contributed and it is great when you can do that. We will take this into the Olympics and fight every match.”

The U.S. started Berg at setter, Tom and Glass at outside hitter, Scott-Arruda and Akinradewo at middle blocker and Haneef-Park at opposite. Sykora is the designated U.S. libero for the World Grand Prix Final round. Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) was a sub in all five sets, while Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu) subbed into the match in all but the fourth set. Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) made an appearance off the bench in the fourth set.

The fifth set, much like the comparison of the first four sets being split, was a constant shift of momentum. China turned in a quick 2-0 lead to start the fifth set. Tom put up a block after a Haneef-Park kill to tie the set at 2-all. Team USA scored three more points on a Scott-Arruda block, Chinese error and Nnamani ace for a 5-2 lead. China answered with five quick points to regain a 7-5 advantage. The U.S. tied the set at 7-all with a Scott-Arruda kill and China error. Tom put Team USA ahead 8-7 at the crossover with a kill. China notched three straight points to grab a 11-9 advantage. Glass scored a kill at 11-10, after which a lengthy discussion occurred regarding the Chinese rotation. Nnamani tied the set at 11-all with a kill leading to a Chinese timeout. Tom put the U.S. in front at 13-12 with a kill. Glass presented the USA with a match point attempt at 14-13 with a kill. Haneef-Park provided U.S. its second and third match-point attempts at 15-14 and 16-15, then finished the set off herself with a kill at 17-15.

The U.S. converted 50.3 percent of its 153 attacks into kills while holding China to a 46.9 percent. Team USA held a slim 8-7 lead in blocks and 34-28 edge in digs, while China had a 4-3 margin in aces. The Americans compiled a 47.4 excellent service reception percentage on 95 attempts, while China stayed in transition better with a 67.0 percent.

“In today's match our play was not stable,” China Head Coach Chen Zhonghe said. “The combination between the setter and attackers was not so smooth. We could not follow up the one-touch ball. As a result of these mistakes we could not get the chance to win this match.”

The U.S. and China are grouped into the same 2008 Olympic Games pool and will face each other on Aug. 15,t he fourth match of pool play. The match will feature Lang Ping, a Beijing native, leading the American squad against the country she led to a gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Games as an outside hitter and a silver medal as a coach at the 1996 Olympic Games.

Ruirui Zhao paced China with 20 points via 17 kills, two blocks and an ace. Yimei Wang chipped in 14 kills, two blocks and two aces for 18 points, while Ming Xue contributed 13 points with 12 kills and a block.

“To be honest I think we had a chance to win today, but in the final set an incident occurred and because of this reason we could not have the chance,” China’s Zhang Na said. “Through today's experience I want to establish our team work more before the Beijing Olympics.”

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. had 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).

Akinradewo scored consecutive kills to yield the U.S. its first lead of the opening set at 4-3. China regained the lead at 7-6 on Team USA’s second error of the set. Team USA regrouped after a China error to score a 3-0 run with Haneef-Park tacking on a kill and Berg serving an ace at 9-7. China added a fourth point to the run with an error at 10-7. Haneef-Park and Glass slammed consecutive kills to extend the lead to 12-8. China answered with two straight points to cut the deficit in half at 12-10. The U.S. went into the second technical timeout leading 16-12 after Haneef-Park and Glass kills. China netted back-to-back points after the break to crawl to within two, 16-14. China tied the set at 18-all with three unanswered points. Scott-Arruda and Tom put together consecutive kills followed by a Chinese error to put the U.S. in front by three, 22-19. China answered with consecutive points to move back to within one, 22-21. Akinradewo gave Team USA two set points at 24-22 with a kill, then finished the set off with her fifth kill of the frame at 25-23. Tom also provided the U.S. with five kills.

Team USA gained a 2-0 lead to start the second set as China committed back-to-back errors. After an American error, Scott-Arruda and Tom collected kills and Akinradewo added a block to extend the U.S. lead to 5-1. China tallied back-to-back points put the score at 5-3. Trailing by three at the first technical timeout, China scored three straight points to inch to one, 8-7. Scott-Arruda put up a block and hammered a kill after a China error to push the Team USA margin to four, 12-8. Tom and Haneef-Park added a fourth and fifth straight point at 14-8 with a kill apiece. Tom and Glass provided back-to-back kills to increase the cushion to seven, 18-11. China chipped off three straight points on the deficit to move to 20-16. Akinradewo followed a Haneef-Park kill with a block to push the lead to 23-17. China responded with two quick points to creep to 23-19. Team USA would not allow China any closer as Haneef-Park tallied a kill and Tom put up a block at 25-19 to end the set. Haneef-Park scored six points to lead the U.S. in the second set, while Tom added five points. Team USA scored four points off the block and China gave away six points on other errors.

China scored three unanswered points to take a 7-4 advantage in the third set. Glass served an ace after a Chinese error to move the U.S. to within one, 8-7. However, China answered with a 5-1 run to gain a five-point edge, 14-9. Haneef-Park and Akinradewo tallied consecutive kills and China added an error to cut the gap to 15-13. The teams traded points the rest of the way for the final 19 points and a 25-22 score. Haneef-Park scored five points in the third set to lead the U.S.

Scott-Arruda broke the string of not able to score on serve with a kill and block giving the U.S. a 2-1 lead in the fourth set. China managed three unanswered points to take a 5-3 edge. Tom and Nnamani turned in consecutive kills and Tom added a block to move the U.S. back in front 6-5. Haneef-Park added a kill for a fourth straight point at 7-5. China responded with four quick points to take a 9-7 lead. China increased its margin to three points at 12-9 with consecutive points. Tom hammered a kill followed by a China error to close the deficit to one, 14-13. China took a 16-13 lead at the second technical timeout with two straight points. China extended its lead to five points with a 4-1 run at 22-17. Tom saved a second U.S. set point at 24-21, but China finished the frame with a 25-21 victory. Tom scored five points in the fourth set to lead Team USA.

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
USA 2-3
Japan 1-3
China 1-4

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: China def. Japan, 25-17, 28-30, 25-15, 25-21
July 13: USA def. China 25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 21-25, 17-15
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