Preview of World Championship Qualifier in Orlando

July 05, 2009, 11:02 p.m. (ET)

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

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 5, 2009) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team is hosting the FIVB World Championship Qualification Tournament for NORCECA Pool G July 6-8 at UCF Arena in Orlando, Fla. NORCECA Pool G is a third-round qualification tournament into the World Championship.

Ranked second in the world, Team USA is considered the heavy favorite to earn the qualifier’s one berth directly into the FIVB World Championship to be held November 2010 in Japan. However, the U.S. is utilizing a new roster, a new coaching staff in place and many new systems from the previous Olympic cycle that yielded a silver medal at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Team USA has four Olympians on its World Championship Qualification Tournament roster who earned silver medals in Beijing. Middle blocker Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) is a four-time Olympian, while middle blocker Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) is a three-time Olympian. Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas), the team’s designated libero for the tournament, is a three-time Olympian and opposite Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) is a two-time Olympian. Nancy Metcalf (Hull, Iowa) played for the U.S. in the 2004 Olympic Games and missed the event in 2008.

With the strength of the U.S. team, the real battle may lie in who finishes second and advances to the NORCECA Play-In Tournament. Pool G’s second-place team will join Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico and Pool I’s second-place team in a four-team playoff with the winner and second-place finisher earning NORCECA’s last two spot into the FIVB World Championship.

Costa Rica is ranked 30th in the FIVB world ranking and placed eighth at the Eighth Women’s Pan American Cup that finished July 4 in Miami. Costa Rica advanced directly to Pool G bypassing the first and second rounds. Costa Rica captain Verania Willis and sister Angela Willis have identical 102 total matches played under the Costa Rican flag in international competition.

Barbados, currently ranked 50th in the world, won the NORCECA Pool D second round of qualification to advance to Pool G. Barbados fields a fairly new roster with only three players with international competition. Julia Lewis has 61 international matches and was the top scorer in Pool D with 80 points, while Janelle Chase-Mayers has 26 and Shari Matthews has 25.

Netherlands Antilles, ranked 53rd in the world, finished second in NORCECA Pool C second round of qualification to advance to Pool G. Netherlands Antilles has the youngest roster in the tournament with an average age of 22.3. Christine Anthony out-paced all scorers in Pool C with 122 points – 63 more than the second-best scorer.

Coaches Quotes

Barbados Head Coach Andrew Brathwaite
“We want to perform with credibility. We know that there are two higher ranked teams in the pool. We have sights set on qualifying for the next round, and to do that, we need to knock off one of those teams. We are at a rebuilding stage and have a new-look team. We have made quite a few strides in this short time with the support of our federation.”

Costa Rica Head Coach Henry Rodriguez
“For my country, this is a very important tournament. We have the chance to qualify for the World Championship, and we come here with all our strength and energy to play well. Our goal is to be first or second in this round.”

Netherlands Antilles Head Coach Patricio Bridgewater
“I have a young, promising selection competing in this event. My goal is to finish second, and that is taking a realistic view as United States is a very good team. My expectation is to battle Costa Rica and Barbados for second place. We have made some changes from the last round to give us a better chance to win.”

United States Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon
“The goal is to qualify for 2010 FIVB World Championship. I think our team is steadily improving. I am looking for our team to have three good matches and continue to improve.”

FIVB World Championship Qualification Tournament - NORCECA POOL G Schedule

July 6
Costa Rica vs. Barbados, 5 p.m.
United States vs. Netherlands Antilles, 7:30 p.m.

July 7
Netherlands Antilles vs. Costa Rica, 5 p.m.
United States vs. Barbados, 7:30 p.m.

July 8
Netherlands Antilles vs. Barbados, 5 p.m.
United States vs. Costa Rica, 7:30 p.m.

U.S. Women's Roster
# - Name (Pos, Ht, Hometown, College)
2 – Danielle Scott-Arruda (MB, 6-2, Baton Rouge, La., Long Beach State)
3 – Tayyiba Haneef-Park (OH/OPP, 6-7, Laguna Hills, Calif., Long Beach State)
4 – Angie Pressey (OH, 5-8, Lake Mary, Fla., California)
5 – Stacy Sykora (L, 5-10, Burleson, Texas, Texas A&M)
7 – Heather Bown (MB, 6-3, Yorba Linda, Calif., Hawaii)
8 – Cynthia Barboza (OH, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Stanford)
10 – Kristin Richards (OH, 6-1, Orem, Utah, Stanford)
12 – Nancy Metcalf (OPP, 6-1, Hull, Iowa, Nebraska)
15 – Courtney Thompson (S, 5-7, Kent, Wash., Washington)
16 – Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, Aliquippa, Pa., Penn State)
17 – Nellie Spicer (S, 5-9, Barrington, Ill., UCLA)
19 – Jane Collymore (OH, 5-11, Seattle, Wash., Florida)
Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Assistant Coaches: Karch Kiraly (San Clemente, Calif.), Troy Tanner
Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison (Dana Point, Calif.)
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek
Team Leader: Jason Watson