Manager, Media Relations and Publications
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 25, 2009) – USA Volleyball will send a senior-level volleyball team to Egypt in April as part of an exchange program involving the United States Olympic Committee and the Egyptian National Olympic Committee.
The USOC and the Egyptian National Olympic Committee exchange program includes a sport component as well as a cultural component. 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 12-player roster as selected by U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) is comprised of elite developmental athletes on the verge of being added to the U.S. Women’s National Team. The team will play two matches in Cairo against the Egyptian women’s national team. The American squad will depart for Cairo on April 7 and play Egypt on April 10 and 12 in Cairo before returning home on April 14.
“We have been able to select this quality group of athletes which blends youth and experience into one team, and I am very excited to watch how they perform,” McCutcheon said. “For some of these athletes, it will be their first chance to experience international travel and competition within the USA system, and we get to evaluate them in the process. Overall, it will be a great opportunity for us as a staff and program to work with these players in a situation that is not as high-pressured as some other international events.”
The U.S. roster includes 2008 Olympic Games silver medalists Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) and Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) at the libero position. Team USA will have Nellie Spicer (Barrington, Ill., UCLA) and Nicole Vargas (Seal Beach, Calif.) at setter and Morgan Beck (Coto De Caza, Calif.) at opposite. McCutcheon has selected Therese Crawford (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Brittany Moore (Orange, Calif.) and Julie Rubenstein (Camarillo, Calif.) as outside hitters. Mekana Barnes (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.), Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and Emillie Toone (American Fork, Utah) will see time at middle blocker. Harmotto will also see some playing time at opposite.
McCutcheon will lead the squad in his first international event as the U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach. However, he is no stranger to USA Volleyball as he served as the head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team that won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games. The travel staff will also include assistant coach/technical coordinator Jamie Morrison (Dana Point, Calif.) and athletic trainer Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa).
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.
Women’s volleyball was the only sport chosen to be involved in the innovative cultural exchange program between the two national Olympic Committees. The players and staff will take part in a cultural experience including historical and cultural institutions such as the Pyramids.
“With this trip, we hope to foster and build goodwill between the two sporting countries,” McCutcheon said. “I am exciting about our team taking part in this cultural exchange.”
According to the USOC, the Egyptian women’s volleyball team will travel to the United States for matches against the U.S. Women’s National Team and for an American cultural experience.
U.S. Women’s Team Traveling to Egypt
Name (Pos, Ht, Hometown, College)
Mekana Barnes (MB, 6-0, Highlands Ranch, Colo., Colorado State)
Morgan Beck (Opp, 6-3, Coto De Caza, Calif., California)
Therese Crawford (OH, 5-11, Kalamazoo, Mich., Hawaii)
Nicole Davis (L, 5-4, Stockton, Calif., Southern California)
Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, Aliquippa, Pa., Penn State)
Brittany Moore (OH, 5-11, Orange, Calif., Cal State Fullerton)
Lauren Paolini (MB, 6-4, Ann Arbor, Mich., Texas)
Julie Rubenstein (OH, 6-3, Camarillo, Calif., Pepperdine)
Nellie Spicer (S, 5-10, Barrington, Ill., UCLA)
Stacy Sykora (L, 5-10, Burleson, Texas, Texas A&M)
Emillie Toone (MB, 6-7, American Fork, Utah, Utah)
Nicole Vargas (S, 5-8, Seal Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Assistant Coach/Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison (Dana Point, Calif.)
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)