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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 16, 2008) – USA Volleyball, based on input by U.S. Women’s National Indoor Volleyball Head Coach ‘Jenny’ Lang Ping and her coaching staff, has nominated the 12 players who will represent Team USA at the 2008 Olympic Games in August, pending official confirmation by the United States Olympic Committee.
The 2008 U.S. Olympic Games roster blends experience with youth as eight players have played in previous Olympic Games. At age 35, middle blocker Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) has been selected to her fourth Olympic Games roster to tie a USA Volleyball record shared with Tara Cross-Battle, who played in her fourth Olympics in 2004. Scott-Arruda has competed in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. She has been a part of the U.S. Women’s National Team since May 1994.
“I am overly elated to be selected to my fourth Olympic Games,” Scott-Arruda said. “It was an emotional moment for all of us, though, to be selected. Jenny called us in by groups to tell us who was selected. It was an awesome moment when my name was called.”
Players selected to their third Olympic Games include setter Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu), outside hitter Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah), middle blocker Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) and libero Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas). Opposite Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.), setter Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) and outside hitter Ogonna Nnamani (Bloomington, Ill.) are all repeat selections from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Newcomers to the Olympic Games are outside hitters Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.) and Kim Willoughby (Napoleonville, La.), middle blocker Jennifer Joines (Milpitas, Calif.) and libero Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.).
“For me, making this Olympic team is incredible,” Davis said. “I have been anticipating this moment for four years. However, nothing is ever for certain. It’s been a long journey, and I've had to learn a lot in the last couple of years to make it this far. I have never been so excited to get back into the gym with my teammates and begin preparation again. My teammates continue to inspire me, and I feel honored to be part of this group, it’s such a unique opportunity. Now I can let go and just play.”
According to Davis, the roster announcement day was a roller-coaster of emotions starting with Team USA’s victory over China and concluding with who made the Olympic Team.
“The day the roster was announced was an emotional day for everyone,” Davis said. “Most of us had been traveling for more than three weeks, we had all been keenly aware of the day and its significance. We had won a very emotional, intense five-set thriller against China early in the day and then had all afternoon/evening off as the coaches met and made their final decisions.
“Going into the meeting I was anxious. At that point, I had come to the realization that I gave everything I could to make the team, knowing full well that there were things I could have done better, but that I had competed to the best of my ability, and that's all you can hope for. The team was announced by position, and by the time the others were announced we (Stacy and I) knew we would both be going. Many of the girls were crying, some of the coaches were crying.”
Lang Ping expressed the long evaluation period helped the coaching staff make better, more informed decisions regarding the roster composition.
“It has not been easy to get to this final roster,” Lang Ping said. “We have been training more than 12 players, especially since January with the young, talented players. By the time we finished the World Grand Prix, almost seven months have passed since starting in January, and we have trained more than 30 players. We have taken a long time to evaluate them and we just want to make sure to have made the right decision. We try to balance all the positions, see different angles and give the team the best chance to play better. Some players have special skills who can give the team something extra. There is also chemistry and positive reactions. It took us over 20 meetings to make this final roster.”
Scott-Arruda believes the depth of this Olympic roster will be the key to its success in Beijing.
“We really have a dynamic group selected at every position on the court that will help us succeed in the Olympics,” Scott-Arruda said.
Joines did not feel confident if she would be selected for the Olympic Team and was losing sleep while in Colorado Springs and a good portion of the squad was in Japan participating in the World Grand Prix. But she envisioned being selected in a dream, then later experienced the same feeling for real.
“Last Wednesday I had a dream that Diane (French) call and said ‘Guess what kiddo, you made it,’” Joines said. Then I woke up and realized it was only a dream. Then on Friday morning, Diane called for real and said ‘Guess what kiddo, you made it.’” It was like déjà vu and I kept telling myself to ‘Wake up. This is only a dream.’ Since being told I made the Olympic Team, I have had flashbacks to my earliest time with USA Volleyball and the A2 program and what has got me to this point.”
Joines stated that other teams should be prepared for a very focused squad as it helps Scott-Arruda reach a new plateau.
“Danielle, in her three previous Olympic Games, has yet to make it to the medal stand,” Joines said. “I think that is dangerous for other teams.”
Earlier this year, USA Volleyball nominated its staff for the 2008 Olympic Games. Lang Ping (Beijing, China) will serve as the team’s head coach and will participate in her third Olympic Games. She starred for the Chinese Olympic Team as an outside hitter and led the squad to a 1984 Olympic Gold Medal in Los Angeles. She coached the Chinese Olympic Team to a silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Now, she moves into rare company in international circles. According to FIVB files, Lang Ping will be moving into company of Hungary women’s team coach Gabriella Kotsis as female coaches to lead teams into multiple Olympics. Kotsis led Hungary during the golden era of Hungarian Volleyball, leading the country into three Olympic Games (1972, 1976, 1980). Lang Ping is currently the only female head coach of a national volleyball federation with a team in the top 20 world ranking.
Other members of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team staff are assistant coach Sue Woodstra (Freshwater, Calif.), Li Yong (Shenzhen, China) as the therapist/trainer, Tom Hogan (Cincinnati, Ohio) as the technical consultant coach, Diane French (Colorado Springs, Colo.) as the technical coordinator and Joan Powell (Colorado Springs, Colo.) as the team leader.
The 2008 Olympic Games 12-player roster is nearly identical to the one that captured the bronze medal at the 2007 FIVB World Cup that qualified the U.S. into the upcoming Olympic Games. Willoughby is the only roster change as she did not join the U.S. National Team squad until April 2008.
The U.S. Women are currently ranked fourth in the world by FIVB, the international governing body of volleyball. Team USA finished fourth at the FIVB World Grand Prix, a 12-team tournament with three consecutive weekend preliminary rounds in different countries followed immediately by a six-team round robin event over five days. The U.S. finished 7-2 in the preliminary round stops held in Japan, Poland and Chinese Taipei, and won two of five matches in the Final Round held at Yokohama, Japan.
“Russia and Serbia were not at the World Grand Prix, but in the Finals there were six teams qualified for the Olympic Games, three of which we will play in our pool,” Lang Ping said. “We are pretty close, except Brazil dominated the World Grand Prix. Cuba and China played their full teams in the tournament. We changed our players in different weeks, same with Italy. I don't think (every team) put forth their best lineup in every match as teams tried to evaluate different players. I think we played better each week, especially in the fourth week. Our physical conditioning was a little tired, and that made it a little harder for the players. We still had our goals and worked hard, especially to play more consistently.”
The U.S. Olympic Team will train in Colorado Springs July 18-26 before leaving to California for sea-level training and USOC Olympic Team Processing in San Jose. The squad will play an intrasquad scrimmage on July 31 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time in Haas Pavilion on the University of California-Berkeley campus. Admission is $5 with tickets available at the door starting at 4 p.m. After the scrimmage, the team will sign autographs.
“It is such a short time, but this week we will give them a few days off with some physical conditioning,” Lang Ping said. “Starting this Saturday, we start training again. We will stay in Colorado Springs for eight days for technique training, video and of course physical conditioning. Then we will go to California for six days for training and team processing before going to Beijing. We wanted to stay in Beijing one week before the Games start.”
For the Olympic Games, the U.S. is grouped into Pool A with host China, Cuba, Japan, Poland and Venezuela. The U.S. Women open the Olympic Games on Aug. 9 versus Japan at 10 p.m. at the Capital Indoor Stadium. The Americans face NORCECA rival Cuba on Aug. 11 at 12:30 p.m. at the Capital Indoor Stadium. Team USA plays its only match at the Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium on Aug. 13 versus Venezuela at noon. The U.S. challenges China on Aug. 15 at the Capital Indoor Stadium at 8 p.m. before concluding pool play on Aug. 17 versus Poland at 12:30 p.m. at the Capital Indoor Stadium.
Team USA defeated China and Japan in five sets at the recently completed FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round at Yokohama, Japan. Cuba rallied from a two-set deficit to defeat the American squad at the same event. In addition, Team USA dealt Japan a five-set loss in the World Grand Prix preliminary round in Kobe, Japan. The U.S. defeated Poland twice in back-to-back matches in the 2008 FVB World Grand Prix preliminary rounds. Team USA defeated Venezuela in five sets at the 2008 Pan American Cup with Sykora as the only 2008 Olympian on the roster.
The top four teams in both Olympic preliminary round pools advance to the quarterfinals on Aug. 19 with the winner of each pool facing the fourth-place team in the opposite pool. A drawing of lots will determine the opponents for the second- and third-place teams against the opposite pool.
The quarterfinal winners advance to the semifinals on Aug. 21. The gold and bronze medal matches take place on Aug. 23.
General Notes on the Olympic Roster Selections
USA Women’s Volleyball Olympic Team Quick Facts
Year (Place Finish, Record): 1964 (5th, 1-5); 1968 (8th, 0-7); 1972 (did not qualify); 1976 (did not qualify); 1980 (qualified, did not compete due to boycott); 1984 (Silver, 4-1); 1988 (7th, 2-3); 1992 (Bronze, 4-2); 1996 (7th, 5-3); 2000 (4th, 4-2); 2004 (5th, 2-4).
Olympic Medals Won: 1984 (Silver, defeated Cuba 3-0 in semifinals, lost to China in Gold Medal Match); 1992 (Bronze, lost to Cuba 2-3 in semifinals, defeated Brazil 3-0 in bronze medal match)
Multiple U.S. Women’s Indoor Volleyball Olympians
4 – Danielle Scott-Arruda (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008)
3 – Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (2000, 2004, 2008)
3 – Heather Bown (2000, 2004, 2008)
3 – Stacy Sykora (2000, 2004, 2008)
3 – Logan Tom (2000, 2004, 2008)
2 – Lindsey Berg (2004, 2008)
2 – Tayyiba Haneef-Park (2004, 2008)
2 – Ogonna Nnamani (2004, 2008)
First-Time U.S. Women’s Indoor Volleyball Olympians
U.S. Women’s Indoor Volleyball Olympians by State
California (4): Heather Bown (Yorba Linda), Nicole Davis (Stockton), Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills), Jennifer Joines (Milpitas)
Hawaii (2): Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu), Lindsey Berg
Louisiana (2): Danielle Scott-Arruda, Kim Willoughby
Illinois: Ogonna Nnamani
Pennsylvania: Kim Glass
Texas: Stacy Sykora
Utah: Logan Tom
U.S. Women's Indoor Volleyball Olympians by College
Hawaii (3): Robyn Ah Mow-Santos, Heather Bown, Kim Willoughby
Long Beach State (2): Danielle Scott-Arruda, Tayyiba Haneef-Park
Stanford (2): Ogonna Nnamani, Logan Tom
Arizona (1): Kim Glass
Minnesota (1): Lindsey Berg
Pacific (1): Jennifer Joines
Southern California (1): Nicole Davis
Texas A&M (1): Stacy Sykora
U.S. Women’s Indoor Volleyball Olympic Roster (pending USOC confirmation)
# - Name (Pos, Ht, Prev Games, Hometown, College/Grad Year, Birthdate)
1 - Ogonna Nnamani (OH, 6-1, 2004, Bloomington, Ill., Stanford/2005, 7/29/83)
2 - Danielle Scott-Arruda (MB, 6-2, 1996-2000-2004, Baton Rouge, La., Long Beach St./1994, 10/1/72)
3 - Tayyiba Haneef-Park (OPP, 6-7, 2004, Laguna Hills, Calif., Long Beach St./2001, 3/23/79)
4 - Lindsey Berg (S, 5-8, 2004, Honolulu, Hawai’i, Minnesota/2001, 7/16/80)
5 - Stacy Sykora (L, 5-10, 2000-2004, Burleson, Texas, Texas A&M/1999, 6/24/77)
6 - Nicole Davis (L, 5-4, None, Stockton, Calif, USC/2004, 4/24/82)
7 - Heather Bown (MB, 6-3, 2000-2004, Yorba Linda, Calif., Hawai’i/2005, 11/29/78)
9 - Jennifer Joines (MB, 6-4, None, Milpitas, Calif., Pacific/2004, 11/23/82)
10 - Kimberly Glass (OH, 6-2, None, Lancaster, Pa., Arizona/NA, 8/18/84)
11 - Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (S, 5-7, 2000-2004, Honolulu, Hawai’i, Hawai’i/1996, 9/15/75)
12 - Kim Willoughby (OH, 5-10, None, Napoleonville, La., Hawai’i/TBA, 11/07/80)
15 - Logan Tom (OH, 6-1, 2000-2004, Salt Lake City, Utah, Stanford/NA, 5/25/81)
U.S. Women's 2008 Olympic Games Indoor Volleyball Schedule
Pool A: China, Cuba, Japan, Poland, USA, Venezuela
Pool B: Algeria, Brazil, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia, Serbia
Saturday, Aug. 9 - at Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium
Pool B: Italy vs. Russia, 10 a.m.
Pool B: Serbia vs. Kazakhstan, Noon
Saturday, Aug. 9 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Pool B: Algeria vs. Brazil, 12:30 p.m.
Pool A: Poland vs. Cuba, 2:30 p.m.
Pool A: Venezuela vs. China, 8 p.m.
Pool A: Japan vs. USA, 10 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 11 - at Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium
Pool B: Algeria vs. Serbia, 10 a.m.
Pool B: Kazakhstan vs. Italy, Noon
Monday, Aug. 11 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Pool A: USA vs. Cuba, 12:30 p.m.
Pool B: Brazil vs. Russia, 2:30 p.m.
Pool A: China vs. Poland, 8 p.m.
Pool A: Japan vs. Venezuela, 10 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 13 - at Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium
Pool B: Italy vs. Algeria, 10 a.m.
Pool A: Venezuela vs. USA, Noon
Wednesday, Aug. 13 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Pool B: Russia vs. Kazakhstan, 12:30 p.m.
Pool B: Serbia vs. Brazil, 2:30 p.m.
Pool A: Cuba vs. China, 8 p.m.
Pool A: Poland vs. Japan, 10 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 15 - at Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium
Pool B: Algeria vs. Russia, 10 a.m.
Pool B: Brazil vs. Kazakhstan, Noon
Friday, Aug. 15 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Pool A: Venezuela vs. Poland, 12:30 p.m.
Pool B: Serbia vs. Italy, 2:30 p.m.
Pool A: USA vs. China, 8 p.m.
Pool A: Japan vs. Cuba, 10 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 17 - at Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium
Pool B: Kazakhstan vs. Algeria, 10 a.m.
Pool A: Cuba vs. Venezuela, Noon
Sunday, Aug. 17 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Pool A: Poland vs. USA, 12:30 p.m.
Pool B: Italy vs. Brazil, 2:30 p.m.
Pool A: China vs. Japan, 8 p.m.
Pool B: Russia vs. Serbia, 10 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 19 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Women's quarterfinal 01, 10 a.m.
Women's quarterfinal 02, Noon
Women's quarterfinal 03, 8 p.m.
Women's quarterfinal 04, 10 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 21 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Women's semifinal 01, 12:30 p.m.
Women's semifinal 02, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 23 - at Capital Indoor Stadium
Women's bronze-medal match, 12:30 p.m.
Women's gold-medal match, 8 p.m.
Women's Award ceremony, 9:50 p.m.