Team USA Falls to Top-Ranked Brazil 3-2

June 12, 2008, 2:44 a.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 11, 2008) - The U.S. Women’s National Indoor Volleyball Team opened its three-match, 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Exhibition for Volleyball series versus Brazil Wednesday night with a 25-20, 21-25, 23-25, 25-21, 17-15 loss before a sellout crowd of 1,200-plus fans at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Brazil is the top-ranked team in the world, while the U.S. ranked fourth.

The two teams will face off again on Friday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center on June 13 at 7:30 p.m., followed by a June 14 contest at the Air Force Academy’s Clune Arena at 7 p.m. The final contest will be televised June 29 at 10 a.m. Mountain Time on a tape-delay basis. Tickets for the June 14 contest are still available and can be purchased through, the official athletic Web site of the Air Force Academy.

Prior to the start of the match, both teams agreed to play the match to five sets regardless of the outcome of the previous sets. However, that provision was not necessary as the match was forced to a fifth set under normal circumstances. Brazil used a key 6-0 run to take a 19-13 in the opening set and went on to win 25-20 after withstanding a 4-0 USA run. USA recovered from a 16-12 deficit in the second set to win 25-21. Brazil jumped to an 8-2 lead in the third set, but had to withstand a USA challenge that closed to within 21-20 before winning 25-23. The U.S. broke a 14-all tie in the fourth set and built and 18-14 advantage en route to a 25-21 victory. Brazil overcame a 12-9 deficit in the fifth set and saved two match points before winning 17-15.

“I think our players played very well,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Lang Ping said. “There are lots of things we need to still work on. We played some young players. It’s very good to involve them so we can make a better decision for the final 12 of the Olympic Games.”

Both the United States and Brazilian women’s volleyball teams qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games with medal-stand performances at the 2007 FIVB World Cup. Brazil finished with the silver medal at the World Cup, while the U.S. finished with the bronze.

Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) tallied 23 points via 20 kills, two aces and a block to lead Team USA. Kim Willoughby (Napoleonville, La.), playing in her first senior level international competition for the U.S. Women’s National Team, added 10 kills, four aces and a block for 15 points. Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) and Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) added 13 points apiece as Bown was credited with a team-high five blocks while Barboza tallied 11 kills. Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) recorded four kills, four blocks and an ace for nine points. Foluke Akinradowo (Plantation, Fla.) tacked on five points, while Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu) and Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) chipped in two points apiece. Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) rounded out the scoring with a single tally.

Team USA started Berg at setter, Tom and Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.) at outside hitter, Scott-Arruda and Bown at middle blocker, Barboza at opposite and Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) at libero. Ah Mow-Santos started the final two sets while entering as sub in the second and third sets. Busse was a sub in the second, third and fifth sets. Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) was a back-row replacement in the final three sets.

Sheilla Castro paced Brazil with 23 points via 18 kills on 39 swings, four blocks and an ace. Paula Pequeno added 20 points with 18 kills, a block and an ace. Walewska Oliveira was credited with five blocks as part of 11 points. Marianne “Mari” Steinberg contributed six kills, while Welissa “Sassa” Gonzaga tallied four points. Helia “Fofao” provided four points, but went down injured in the fourth set and did not return. Caroline Gattaz and Joyce Silva rounded out the scoring with a point apiece.

“The team is in preparation for the Olympic Games,” Brazil Assistant Coach Paulo Barros Junior said through an interpreter. “They are at the beginning of the training process so they are not performing at their best right now. Today was a very good match. They are very happy with what they did. The USA had an amazing offense plus they were digging all the balls. Their goal is to be ready for the Olympics.”

Brazil started Waleska, Mari, Paula, Fofao, Fabiana and Sheilla, while Fabiana de Oliveira was the libero. Caroline Albuquerque subbed the first four sets before taking over for the injured Fofao. Caroline Gattaz subbed in the fourth set, while Sassa subbed the second, fourth and fifth sets. Joyce entered all sets but the fourth.

Brazil held a 17-16 edge in blocks and both teams had 58 kills. Team USA held a 9- 6 lead in aces, but Brazil made up the difference as the Americans had 13 service errors to the visitors’ nine.

“Brazil has very good ball control,” Lang Ping said. “They play very fast, also from the back row. It’s hard to find a weakness. Lots of teams are playing really well right now. The first thing we need to get done is ourselves and then the second thing is worry about others.”

In the last meeting between the two teams, the U.S. rallied from a two-set deficit to win 17-25, 16-25, 25-21, 25-23, 15-9 on Nov. 7 at the 2007 FIVB World Cup. Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.), who did not suit up tonight and is unavailable for competition this week, led Team USA with 26 points in the victory.

The U.S. and Brazil took part in a similar exhibition series to begin the 2005 season. The Front Range Tour was a three-match series in Denver, Fort Collins, Colo., and Colorado Springs. The trio of matches marked U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Lang Ping’s debut leading Team USA. The U.S. won the first and third matches in the series.

Team USA played its last home domestic match nearly two years ago. Playing with a split squad in the second year of the current Olympic quadrennial, the U.S. faced Poland on May 26, 2006. Poland won 25-14, 25-22, 28-26.

At the conclusion of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Exhibition series, the U.S. and Brazil will compete in the 12-team FIVB World Grand Prix in various European and Asian countries from June 20-July 13. The two teams will not face each other in any of the three preliminary round weekends, but could meet in the six-team, round-robin World Grand Prix Final round in Yokohama, Japan.

Brazil picked up a two-point cushion at 4-2 early in the opening set on consecutive USA errors. Team USA recovered to tie the set at 5-all after a Bown kill and Brazil hitting error. Brazil reached the first technical timeout leading 8-6 after Sheilla and Mari connected for consecutive kills. Scott-Arruda capped a 4-1 run with consecutive kills to give the Americans their second lead at 10-9. Brazil returned to the lead at 12-11 after back-to-back kills from Sheilla and Paula. Brazil extended its advantage to six points, 19-13 as Paula capped a 5-0 run with an ace. USA fired back with a 4-0 run that included a kill from Busse, ace from Tom and block by Bown to close the deficit to 19-17. Brazil jumped its lead to four points at 22-18 on a block from Sheilla, but Busse answered with a kill and Ah Mow-Santos followed with a block at 22-20. Brazil scored the final three points of the set to win 25-20 on a Mari ace and Fabiana block.

Brazil bolted to a 4-0 advantage in the second set that started with Fofao ace to begin the set, followed by blocks from Sheilla and Fabiana. USA followed with a 5-1 spurt to knot the score, highlighted by two kills from Tom and capped by a Barboza block. With the score tied at 10-all, Brazil rolled off four straight points ending with a block from Fabiana. After Brazil reached the second technical timeout up 16-12, the U.S. collected five straight points for a 17-16 lead with Scott-Arruda serving an ace and the Americans picking up a kill from Willoughby and Tom, and a block by Barboza. Brazil returned to the lead at 18-17 after a Walewska block. The U.S. scored three unanswered points with a Bown block and Tom ace at 2-19. Willouhby added to the gap with a block and kill on back-to-back plays for a 23-20 advantage. Tom powered a kill to give Team USA a set point at 24-21, and Scott-Arruda followed with a block.

Brazil scored six unanswered points after a 2-all score in the third set to take an 8-2 advantage into the technical timeout. Trailing 14-8, USA climbed back into the set at 14-11 with a Tom overpass kill and Willoughby ace. Brazil answered with two straight points to regain a five-point, 16-11, cushion at the second technical timeout. The U.S. came out of the break with a 3-1 run with kills from Scott-Arruda, Barboza and Tom to cut the deficit to 17-14 causing a Brazil timeout. Willoughby put the USA within two at 21-19 with a power kill down within the three-meter line followed by an ace. The U.S. moved to within one at 21-20 after Brazil hit the attack into the net for the third straight American point. Brazil put up consecutive blocks by Sheilla and Walewska to give the visitors set points at 24-21. Barboza saved set point with a kill, and Brazil gave another set point away on an attack error at 24-23. Paula ended the set with a kill off Bown’s block that went out of bounds at 25-23.

U.S. picked up a two-point cushion at 6-4 in the fourth set as Tom put up a block followed by a Brazil error. Walewska put down a kill in front of an uncontested block to tie the set at 6-all. Willoughby downed a kill and was followed by an Akinradewo block to push the U.S. advantage to 9-7. Sheilla tied the set at 12-all on an ace after a Paula block. Team USA regained a two-point lead at the technical timeout, 16-14, as Willoughby hammered a kill off the block followed by a Brazil attack error. Akinradewo put up a block out of the break to increase the lead to 17-14. Ah Mow-Santos put up the fourth straight point with an ace at 18-14 before Brazil stopped the run. Brazil closed to within one at 18-17 on two kills and a U.S. miscue leading to an American timeout. Barboza tooled the Brazil block to stop the bleeding, then Tom powered a kill to push the lead back to 20-17. Barboza hammered a kill that Brazil failed to control, and Bown followed with a block to extend the advantage to 22-18. Sheilla put down a block at 22-19, but Brazil suffered a major setback as Fofao’s knee connected with Fabi’s head causing Fofao to leave the match. Team USA closed out the set at 25-21 on a Brazil error.

The teams traded service errors to start the fifth set before Akinradewo got a kill off the touch at 2-1. Brazil hit long on the next play and Willouhby tacked on an ace to push the U.S. lead to 4-1 forcing a visitor timeout. Sheilla followed a U.S. attack error with a kill to close to within 4-3. Bown connected on a slide followed by a Barboza kill with Tom digging twice to give the U.S. a 7-4 edge. Sassa and Sheilla hit back-to-back kills to cut the deficit to one, 10-9, leading to a U.S. timeout. Willouhby put a kill off the block to stop the mini Brazil run at 11-9, then dug a Brazil attack leading to a Tom kill off the block at 12-9 leading to the final timeout by the visitor. Brazil answered out of the break with a Sheilla kill and Barboza error to move to within one at 12-11. Tom tooled the Brazil block for a 13-11 American advantage. Brazil tied the set at 13-all after a Paula kill and Bown attack that went long. Bown regrouped to put down a block to give Team USA match point at 14-13. Paula saved the point with a kill deep off the U.S. touch. Tom slammed a kill off the Brazil block after a Davis dig giving the U.S. a 15-14 advantage. Walewska answered with a kill to save the second match point. Fabiana put up a block to give Brazil its first match point at 16-15, and Sassa ended the match at 17-15 on a kill.

Promotions Alert
Members of the U.S. Women’s National Team will be signing autographs at the 24 Hour Fitness located at 7720 N. Academy Blvd. in Colorado Springs on June 12 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. In addition, 24 Hour Fitness will be giving away tickets for the June 14 match between Team USA and Brazil during that time period.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Exhibition for Volleyball
# - 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 Calif.)
7 – Heather Bown (MB, 6-3, Yorba Linda, Calif., Hawai’i)
8 – Cynthia Barboza (OH/OPP, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Stanford)
9 – Jennifer Joines (MB, 6-4, Milpitas, Calif., Pacific)
10 – Kim Glass (OH, 6-2, Lancaster, Pa., Arizona)
11 – Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (S, 5-7, Honolulu, Hawai’i, Hawai’i)
12 – Cassie Busse (OPP, 6-2, Prior Lake, Minn., Minnesota)
13 – Heather Hughes (OPP, 6-2, Fallbrook, Calif., Loyola Marymount)
14 – Kim Willoughby (OH, 5-10, Napoleonville, La., Hawai’i)
15 – Logan Tom (OH, 6-1, Salt Lake City, Utah, Stanford)
16 – Tracy Stalls (MB, 6-3, Denver, Colo., Nebraska)
17 – Angie McGinnis (S, 5-11, Fraser, Mich., Florida)
18 – Kristin Richards (OH, 6-1, Orem, Utah, Stanford)
19 – Foluke Akinradewo (MB, 6-3, Plantation, Fla., Stanford)

Head Coach: “Jenny” Lang Ping
Assistant Coaches: Sue Woodstra, Li Yong, Tom Hogan
Technical Coordinator: Diane French