U.S. Women Battle for First Grand Prix Win

Aug. 01, 2009, 2:49 p.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: (719) 228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Aug. 1, 2009) - The U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team came back from two sets down to defeat Puerto Rico 3-2 (21-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-14, 15-13) on Saturday in an FIVB World Grand Prix pool play match at Maracanazihno Gym in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

With the victory, the U.S. Women overcame Friday's sweep by Germany and improved to 1-1 in Pool A. Puerto Rico falls to 0-2. Team USA will play host Brazil at 10 a.m. local time on Sunday.

The United States' Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) led all scorers with 27 points on a match-high 24 kills and three blocks. Kristin Richards (Orem, Utah) added 14 points on 12 kills and two blocks. Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.) contributed seven points on five kills, one block and one ace.

Aurea Cruz led Puerto Rico with 21 points on 17 kills, two blocks and two aces.

"We are very happy with this win, especially after our bad performance against Germany," U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said. "Puerto Rico has a good team and was really hard to beat. Now we have to start looking to Brazil. They will probably be our toughest opponent in this round."

Puerto Rico out-killed the U.S. Women 58-53, out-blocked them 14-12 and had five aces to the United States' four. But Team USA took full advantage of Puerto Rico's 37 team errors while committing only 23.

"It was an amazing match," team captain McGinnis said. "For a young team like ours, it is pretty important playing matches like these as this is way the best way to improve."

In the fifth-set tiebreaker, the U.S. Women trailed 6-8 at the crossover and Puerto Rico increased its lead to 10-7. But Team USA reeled off the next six points, including a kill and a block by Larson and a kill and a block by Fawcett, to take a 13-10 lead. Puerto Rico rallied to make it 13-12, but the United States held it off, scoring the final two points of the match on a Fawcett block and a Richards kill off the block.

Among other U.S. scorers, Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) scored five points on two blocks and a match-high three aces. Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) had four points on two kills and two blocks while Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) scored four points on four kills. Alexis Crimes (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) tallied three points on three kills. Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) scored three points on one kill and two blocks. Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) added two points on two kills.

Libero Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) recorded 25 digs and eight faults on 39 attempts. She was also credited with eight excellent receptions and one fault in 26 attempts.

McGinnis, who started at setter, was credited with four running sets and no faults on 30 attempts. Thompson, who started every set after the first, was credited with 18 running sets and three faults on 95 attempts.

McCutcheon started Barboza and Richards at outside hitter, Akinradewo and Harmotto at middle blocker, Fawcett at opposite, McGinnis at setter and Davis at libero. Just about every U.S. player on the roster got into the match.

Crimes replaced Harmotto at middle blocker to start the third set. Larson substituted for Barboza in the first and second sets and started the third-fifth sets. Angie Pressey (Lake Mary, Fla.) played as a substitute.

Puerto Rico scored the first two points of the match, but after three straight blocks the American took a 7-3 lead. Puerto Rico reduced its deficit to one point (14-13) but the U.S. held a three-point lead at the second technical timeout (TTO) 16-13. In the end, led by opposite Sarai Alvarez, Puerto Rico won its first set in World Grand Prix history with Cruz spiking from the backcourt, 25-21.

Puerto Rico led the second frame from the beginning to end. At the first TTO, Puerto Rico held an 8-5 lead. With Fawcett spiking powerfully, the United States reduced the difference (9-8), but not for long as Puerto Rico pulled ahead at 18-12. The Americans scored four straight points (18-16), but could not avoid the defeat. Karina Ocasio stopped Harmotto for the final point of the set, 25-20.

Led by Fawcett's eight points, the United States began its comeback in the third set. More efficient in spiking and blocking, the U.S. held a 9-5 lead after a Puerto Rican miscue. Puerto Rico held tough and reduced the U.S. advantage to a single point (23-22). However, Fawcett cemented the set victory with a kill, 25-23.

In the fourth set, the U.S. Women kept a good rhythm and quickly had a five-point lead (12-7) when Fawcett let loose with a powerful kill. Puerto Rico committed several mistakes and Team USA ran up a 24-13 lead, going on to win the set 25-14.

More information and photos are available on the FIVB Grand Prix web site.

The U.S. Women's Grand Prix media guide is available on the USA Volleyball web site.

2009 FIVB World Grand Prix
July 31-Aug. 2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

U.S. Women's National Team  Roster
# - Name (Pos, Ht, Hometown, College)
1 - Nicole Fawcett (OH, 6-4, Zanesfield, Ohio, Penn State)
4 C - Angela McGinnis (S, 5-11, Fraser, Mich., Florida)
6 - Nicole Davis (L, 5-6, Stockton, Calif., Southern California)
7 - Angie Pressey (OH, 5-8, Lake Mary, Fla., California-Berkeley)
8 - Cynthia Barboza (OH, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Stanford)
9 - Alexis Crimes (MB, 6-3, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Long Beach State)
10 - Kristin Richards (OH, 6-1, Orem, Utah, Stanford)
11 - Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., Nebraska)
14 - Heather Hughes (OPP, 6-2, Fallbrook, Calif., Loyola Marymount)
15 - Courtney Thompson (S, 5-7, Kent, Wash., Washington)
16 - Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, Aliquippa, Pa., Penn State)
18 - Foluke Akinradewo (MB, 6-3, Plantation, Fla., Stanford)

Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Assistant Coach: Karch Kiraly (San Clemente, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Beth Launiere (Salt Lake City, Utah) - at Brazil and Chinese Taipei
Assistant Coach: John Speraw (Irvine, Calif.) - at Thailand and Finals
Technical Coordinator/Team Leader: Jamie Morrison (Dana Point, Calif.)
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek

Pool A Standings
Brazil 2-0, 4 points
Germany 1-1, 3 points
USA 1-1, 3 points
Puerto Rico 0-2, 2 points

Schedule and Results for U.S. Women's National Team

Pool A - at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Maracanazihno Gym)
July 31: Germany def. USA, 25-15, 25-15, 25-16
Aug. 1: USA def. Puerto Rico, 21-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-14, 15-13
Aug. 2: vs. Brazil, 10 a.m.

Pool D - at Li Miao, Chinese Taipei (Miao Li Country Gymnasium)
Aug. 7: vs. Dominican Republic, 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 8: vs. Netherlands, 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 9: vs. Germany, 4:30 p.m.

Pool I - at Bangkok, Thailand (Keelawes Gym)
Aug. 14: vs. Russia, 2 p.m.
Aug. 15: vs. Puerto Rico, 2 p.m.
Aug. 16: vs. Thailand, 4:30 p.m.