U.S. Women’s National Team Sweeps Egypt

April 12, 2009, 5:42 p.m. (ET)

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

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 12, 2009) – Julie Rubenstein (Camarillo, Calif.) scored a match-high 16 points in leading the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team to a 25-13, 25-15, 27-25 victory over Egypt at Cairo on April 12 to conclude its brief two-match cultural exchange exhibition series arranged by the United States Olympic Committee and the Egyptian Olympic Committee. Team USA won the first match in four sets on April 10.

“We played better tonight,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said. “Some of that had to do with us knowing more about our opponents – and a lot of it was just a function of having more time to play together. These women did a wonderful job on this tour. We met each other at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), traveled for 24 hours, and came up against a quality opponent. These wins are a testament to their ability to play the game, and their willingness to compete as a team.”

Rubenstein charted her 16 points with 11 kills on 26 attempts and five aces on 19 errorless serves to go with five digs and a 46 percent positive service reception. Brittany Moore (Orange, Calif.) contributed 13 kills on 24 attacks with just one error to go with a block and ace for 15 points.

“The team played really well,” Rubenstein said after the match. “We are starting to gel well together. The coaches provided us with a thorough scouting report, and were able to make adjustments to be more efficient. It was a fantastic win to finish off this trip.”

Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and Mekana Barnes (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) added eight points apiece from the middle blocker position. Paolini tallied five kills on seven errorless attempts to go with three aces. Barnes notched seven kills on 17 attacks with an ace. Therese Crawford (Kalamazoo, Mich.) added six kills and a block for seven points. Emillie Toone (American Fork, Utah) scored two kills on four attacks with a block and ace for four points in her reserve role.

Nicole Vargas (Seal Beach, Calif.) set Team USA to a 43 kill percent for the match. The Americans limited their attack errors to 14 on 106 attacks for a .302 hitting efficiency. Vargas chipped in two kills and two blocks from her setter position. Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) tallied 15 digs, while Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) added one in a limited role.

McCutcheon started Vargas at setter, Crawford at opposite, Paolini and Barnes at middle blocker and Moore and Rubenstein at outside hitter. Davis served as the libero for the match. Toone played as a reserve in the opening two sets before starting the third set in place of Paolini. Sykora was a defensive specialist in both the second and third sets. Nellie Spicer (Barrington, Ill.), Morgan Beck (Coto De Caza, Calif.) and Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) did not play in the match after starting the first contest on April 10.

Team USA held Egypt to a 27 kill percent on 92 attacks, but the host team made only 10 hitting errors over the course of the match. Egypt tallied a 7-3 block advantage to offset the woes at the service line. The Americans served 13 aces in the match in contrast to Egypt’s three. In addition, the U.S. received serve with a 55 positive percent.

Egypt, ranked No. 22 in the current FIVB World Ranking, will compete later this summer in the FIVB World Championship Third Round as part of the African Confederation qualification process into the World Championship final round held in November 2010. Egypt competed in the 2006 FIVB World Championship and placed in a tie for 21st after qualifying for the final round.

As well as the two volleyball matches, the trip involves a cultural component arranged through the United States Olympic Committee and the Egyptian National Olympic Committee. The American squad took a cruise down the Nile on April 11 and will tour the Egyptian Pyramids on April 13 before departing for the United States on April 14. The program is part of an ongoing effort to build good relations between the USOC and African National Olympic Committees and to promote sport in Africa.

The U.S. Women's National Team, ranked second in the world by the FIVB, returns to the United States on April 14 and will begin training for the Eighth Annual Women's Pan American Cup, which it will host June 26-July 4 at Miami. The nine-day Pan American Cup, which has three of the four 2008 Olympic Games semifinalists (Brazil, USA and Cuba), will be played on the campuses of the University of Miami and Florida International University. A total of 12 teams are scheduled to compete in the event, which serves as a qualifying event into the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix. The top three teams from NORCECA in the Women’s Pan American Cup and the highest placing South American country will earn berths to next year’s premier annual event.

The U.S. Women’s National Team, the 2008 Olympic Games silver medalist, has been grouped into the Pan American Cup Pool A with Dominican Republic (No. 13 FIVB world ranking), Peru (No. 17), Canada (No. 23), Uruguay (No. 29) and Argentina (No. 31). Pool B consists of 2008 Olympic Games gold medalist Brazil (No. 1), 2008 Olympic Games semifinalist Cuba (No. 3), 2008 Olympic Games participant Venezuela (No. 24), Puerto Rico (No. 19), Mexico (No. 26) and Costa Rica (No. 30). Ticket prices and online purchasing will be available at http://usavolleyball.org/event/event/572 once determined.

Team USA never trailed in the first set against Egypt, despite letting a 5-1 lead capped by two Rubenstein kills evaporate into a 5-all tie. The U.S. rebuilt its lead to 16-7 on an 8-0 service run that included two aces and kill by Rubenstein, three kills from Moore and two kills from Paolini. The U.S. salted the match away at 23-11 with a 5-0 as Moore gained serve with a kill and capped the run with an ace. The teams traded two-point runs to end the set at 25-13.

Like the first set, the U.S. never trailed in the middle frame. However, the Americans never let the hosts close enough to be challenged. Team USA started with a 9-2 run that included a kill and ace from Barnes. Paolini followed a Moore kill with two aces giving the Americans a 15-6 cushion. Egypt mounted a brief charge with four unanswered points to close to within 15-10. However, the U.S. answered with three straight points to extend the lead back to eight at 18-10. After Egypt managed to whittle the deficit to six at 21-15, Team USA scored the final four points of the set with two kills each from Paolini and Vargas.

The third set proved to be the most competitive as Egypt launched into a 10-6 lead. However, Rubenstein picked up the Team USA offense with a kill and two aces to knot the score at 10-all. Toone put up a block yielding a 12-11 U.S. advantage that peaked to 16-13 at the second technical timeout on back-to-back kills from Toone and Crawford. Egypt rallied out of the break with three straight points, including two of its three aces in the match. Moore gave the U.S. a two-point lead at 22-20 on consecutive kills, but it was short-lived as Egypt tied the set at 22-all. After an error gave the U.S. match point at 24-23, Egypt came back to save it and take the lead at 25-24. Team USA saved the set point with a Crawford kill, then Toone found an open spot on the serve for an ace at 26-25. Barnes, who scored the first point of the match, ended the match with a kill at 27-25.

U.S. Women’s Team Traveling to Egypt
Name (Pos, Ht, Hometown, College)
1 - Nellie Spicer (S, 5-10, Barrington, Ill., UCLA)
2 - Morgan Beck (Opp, 6-3, Coto De Caza, Calif., California)
3 - Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, Aliquippa, Pa., Penn State)
4 - Lauren Paolini (MB, 6-4, Ann Arbor, Mich., Texas)
5 - Stacy Sykora (L, 5-10, Burleson, Texas, Texas A&M)
6 - Nicole Davis (L, 5-4, Stockton, Calif., Southern California)
7 - Mekana Barnes (MB, 6-0, Highlands Ranch, Colo., Colorado State)
9 - Nicole Vargas (S, 5-8, Seal Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
10 - Therese Crawford (OH, 5-11, Kalamazoo, Mich., Hawaii)
11 - Brittany Moore (OH, 5-11, Orange, Calif., Cal State Fullerton)
14 - Julie Rubenstein (OH, 6-3, Camarillo, Calif., Pepperdine)
15 - Emillie Toone (MB, 6-7, American Fork, Utah, Utah)

Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Assistant Coach/Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison (Dana Point, Calif.)
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)