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Mar 07 Preview: Women's Pan Am Cup, World Championship Qualifier

June 08, 2009, 8:24 p.m. (ET)

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

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 8, 2009) - The U.S. Women’s National Team basked in the glory of winning the silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

However, 2009 is the start of a brand new Olympic quadrennial for every country seeking to reach the 2012 Olympic Games podium.

For the U.S. Women’s National Team, some changes have already occurred within the program. Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) has taken over the position of head coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team after leading the U.S. Men to the Olympic Gold Medal in Beijing. In addition, legend Karch Kiraly (San Clemente, Calif.) has agreed to serve as the program’s assistant coach with Jamie Morrison (Dana Point, Calif.) shifting roles from the Men’s Team to the Women’s Team as assistant coach/technical coordinator.

McCutcheon and Kiraly are in their first years coaching a women’s program, but both are certainly not new to volleyball with their unrivaled resumes. What the U.S. coaching staff has working for them is a vast talent pool of athletes – both veterans and newcomers - striving to put the U.S. back on the medal podium at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

“Hugh has been quick to get everyone working together, from the veterans to the newcomers,” said libero Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.), a 2008 Olympian. “We are starting to lay out our goals for the upcoming four years, setting precedence on what the standard will be. It is nice to see everyone in the gym working hard and improving every day. As Hugh has mentioned, we should be cognitively engaged in practice as well as be physically engaged, and I think we are all working toward that concept.”

McCutcheon has already provided evidence he wants to evaluate as many players as possible. In a goodwill trip to Egypt in April 2009 arranged by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), he formed a 12-player roster that included nine players who concluded their collegiate careers five months earlier and only two Olympians. The results: two victories over the Egyptian National Team as all 12 players saw court time and 11 started at least one match.

In the meantime, veteran U.S. players who played professionally overseas this winter have filtered back into their new training center located in Anaheim, the American Sports Centers. In a condensed time span, McCutcheon has the chore of bringing everyone together – veterans and newcomers – to form a cohesive unit in preparation for a busy summer of volleyball that includes two domestic tournaments and the FIVB World Grand Prix. In the fall, the U.S. has confirmed spots to compete in the NORCECA Continental Championship and the FIVB Grand Champions Cup.

Team USA begins its summer with consecutive tournaments in Florida, starting with the Eighth Women’s Pan American Cup staged in Miami June 26-July 4. After a day of travel to Orlando, the U.S. hosts the four-team, NORCECA Pool G of the FIVB World Championship Qualification Tournament July 6-8 at University of Central Florida, with the winner advancing to the 2010 FIVB World Championship held in Tokyo.

“It is a huge benefit for us to start the quad in Florida and in a comfortable location,” Davis said. “By having the events back-to-back in Florida, it will allow us to compete in two tournaments without all the travel associated with the other international events. At the same time, we can introduce our team to the country, much like the City of Anaheim has embraced us in our new training center home.”

For the Pan American Cup and FIVB World Championship Qualification Tournament, McCutcheon will field a roster of veterans and newcomers. The 19-player preliminary roster includes six players from the 2008 Olympic Games and another who competed in the 2004 Olympic Games. From the preliminary roster, McCutcheon can select up to 14 players for both the Pan American Cup and the World Championship Qualification Tournament.

“We will have a nice mix of youth and experience for the first two tournaments hosted by the U.S. in Florida,” McCutcheon said.

Headlining the preliminary 19-player rosters are all three middle blockers from the 2008 Olympic Games: Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.), Jennifer Joines (Milpitas, Calif.) and Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.). The three have a total of eight Olympic Games between them, including a USA Volleyball record four by Scott-Arruda. Other middle blockers on the preliminary roster include 2008 Olympic Games alternate Tracy Stalls (Denver, Colo.) and three-time AVCA All-American Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.), who finished her college career in 2008.

McCutcheon will have ample fire power to choose from on the outside with two-time Olympian Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) and 2004 Olympian Nancy Metcalf (Hull, Iowa) on the preliminary roster. Haneef-Park can play either on the left or right side, while Metcalf will be joined at opposite by Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) and Heather Hughes (Fallbrook, Calif.). Other outside hitters on the preliminary roster are 2008 Olympic Games alternates Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) and Kristin Richards (Orem, Utah), Jane Collymore (Seattle, Wash.), Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.) and Angie Pressey (Lake Mary, Fla.).

Three setters are on the preliminary roster, and all three are relatively young in terms of international experience. Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) was the starting setter for much of the 2007 Pan American Games, which yielded a bronze medal. Nellie Spicer (Barrington, Ill.) and Nicole Vargas (Seal Beach, Calif.) both concluded their collegiate careers just five months ago and were on the trip to Egypt earlier this year. However, both have plenty of experience in the USAV High Performance pipeline.

The libero position is stocked with three-time Olympian Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) and Davis for the two tournaments in Florida this summer. Davis was the U.S. Women’s Team libero at the 2008 Olympic Games, while Sykora served as the back-row specialist.

Pool play, scheduled for June 26-30, is a five-day, five-match round robin preliminary to determine classification round matches. The U.S. Women’s National Team, part of Pool A at University of Miami with matches at Bank United Center, starts competition on June 26 versus Costa Rica. The Americans face Guatemala on June 27, followed by a June 28 contest versus Mexico. Team USA hosts Peru on June 29 before concluding pool play on June 30 versus Puerto Rico. All U.S. pool matches are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET.

Pool B, played at nearby Florida International University’s U.S. Century Bank Arena, includes Argentina, top-ranked Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Trinidad & Tobago. The 2008 Olympic Games gold-medal participants of U.S. and Brazil are on opposite sides of the bracket.

After the preliminary pool round, the Pan American Cup quarterfinal and classification matches are set for July 2, followed by semifinal matches and additional classification matches on July 3. The championship match and final classification round matches are scheduled for July 4. All non-pool matches will be played at University of Miami. Classification round matches will be played on July 2 and July 3 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. (all ET). The final classification matches on July 4 will be played at noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. (all ET).

A Pan American Cup tournament pass, good for all matches at both venues, is $75 for adults and $60 for children. Tickets for each date of competition at the specific venue (either University of Miami or Florida International University) are $20 for reserved general admission, $12 for adult general admission and $10 for child general admission. Tickets can be purchased online at www.miamisports.org.

The Women’s Pan American Cup is a qualifying tournament into the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix and the 2009 Women’s Final Four. The top three NORCECA teams and top team from South America receive berths into next year’s FIVB World Grand Prix. The top two teams from NORCECA, Brazil and the top remaining team from South America qualify for the Final Four to be hosted by Brazil.

“Every time we step on the court, our goal is to win the match,” McCutcheon said. “At the beginning of every quad, all teams go through the technical and systemic changes involved in adapting to the new coach’s philosophies. During these early training sessions and tournaments, we will be very much invested in the process of working into our system.”

Miami will be a busy location for volleyball the last week of June and first week of July. The 2009 USA Junior Olympic Girls’ Volleyball Championships will be played June 26-July 5 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Typically, the tournament attracts 788 teams and approximately 9,500 athletes in addition to parents and relatives. A total of 19 championships are contested in age groups ranging from 12 to 18.

“It would be great to see the players from the Juniors Olympic championships come over and watch and provide us support,” Davis said. “Likewise, it is great for us to have an opportunity to share in the experience at the Junior Olympics and support them in their arena when we have a chance. Overall, it is a great way to promote within our sport and our team.”

After completing the Pan American Cup, the Americans will have a day of rest and travel to Orlando before hosting the FIVB World Championship Qualification Tournament at UCF. The four-team, round-robin event includes the host Team USA, Costa Rica, NORCECA Second Round Pool D winner (played June 10-14) and NORCECA Second Round Pool C runner-up Netherlands Antilles. Match times will be 5 p.m. ET and 7:30 p.m. ET, with the United States playing the second match each day. The third-round pool winner will advance to the 2010 FIVB World Championship held Oct. 29-Nov. 14 in Japan.

In addition to the matches, Team USA and UCF volleyball coaching staffs will hold a pre-match clinic involving chalk talk and skills demonstration. Ticket prices for the World Championship qualifier are $12 for general admission day pass or $16 for general admission day pass along with pre-match clinic. A general admission tournament pass for all six matches plus the pre-match clinics can be purchased for $43. Premium seating, including reserved center court club seats, pre-match clinic, access to Black and Gold Club, dinner buffet and post-event meet-and-greet with Team USA, costs $40 for a day pass and $100 for the tournament pass of all six matches. Match tickets can be purchased through the UCF Arena Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, charge-by-phone at (407) 839-3900 or online at www.ucfarena.com. Discounted team and group packages are available by contacting Stan Macko at (407) 823-6062 or at smacko@mail.ucf.edu.

For the complete release on the World Championship Qualification Tournament, click here.

U.S. Women’s National Team Preliminary Roster (O-2)
Eighth Women’s Pan American Cup and World Championship Qualification Tournament
# - Name (Pos, Ht, Hometown, College)
1 – Nicole Vargas (S, 5-8, Seal Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
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)
6 – Nicole Davis (L, 5-6, Stockton, Calif., Southern California)
7 – Heather Bown (MB, 6-3, Yorba Linda, Calif., Hawaii)
8 – Cynthia Barboza (OH, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Stanford)
9 – Jennifer Joines (MB, 6-3, Milpitas, Calif., Pacific)
10 – Kristin Richards (OH, 6-1, Orem, Utah, Stanford)
11 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., Nebraska)
12 – Nancy Metcalf (OPP, 6-1, Hull, Iowa, Nebraska)
13 – Tracy Stalls (MB, 6-4, Denver, Colo., 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)
17 – Nellie Spicer (S, 5-10, Barrington, Ill., UCLA)
18 – Cassie Busse (OPP, 6-1, Prior Lake, Minn., Minnesota)
19 – Jane Collymore (OH, 5-11, Seattle, Wash., Florida)

Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Assistant Coaches: Karch Kiraly (San Clemente, Calif.)
Therapist/Trainer for Pan American Cup: Paula Weishoff (Irvine, Calif.)
Therapist/Trainer for World Championship Qualification Tournament: Troy Tanner
Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison (Dana Point, Calif.)
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek

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