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Women's Pan American Cup Pools Set for Miami Event

March 30, 2009, 8:30 p.m. (ET)

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

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 30, 2009) – The Eighth Annual Women’s Pan American Cup, hosted by USA Volleyball in Miami from June 26 to July 4, has grouped its 12 participating teams into two six-team pools.

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 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). Team sketches can be found at the end of this press release.

“The Pan American Cup field is very strong,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said. “It includes three of the four 2008 Olympic Games semifinalists. We do have some information about each team that will be competing in Miami this summer. However, our main focus has been on working to secure a location for the Women’s National Team to train, and to identify the athletes we want to see in our gym. It’s a lot about us right now.”

Each team will play five pool matches in a round-robin format from June 26 to July June 30, followed by an off-day on July 1. The winner of each pool advances to the semifinals on July 3, while the second- and third-place pool finishers play cross-pool quarterfinal matches on July 2. The championship match is schedule for July 4. All match times and pool schedules will be announced at a later time.

Ticket prices and online purchasing will be available at http://usavolleyball.org/event/event/572 once determined.

The City of Miami will be a hub of volleyball activity the last week of June and first week of July. The Women’s Pan American Cup is being run concurrently with the USA Junior Olympic Girls’ Volleyball Championships held 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.

“USA Volleyball is extremely excited about the opportunity to host one of the largest international volleyball events in Miami and to pair it with the 2009 USA Junior Olympic Girls’ Volleyball Championships,” USA Volleyball Chief Executive Officer Doug Beal said. “It will provide a unique opportunity for our developing young volleyball players to be exposed to elite international volleyball teams from North America, South America and the Caribbean. The two events will also generate terrific excitement in the community and lead to greater popularity for the sport.”

USA Volleyball has never hosted the Women’s Pan American Cup in the seven previous years of the event’s history. The 2009 Women’s Pan American Cup is the largest international volleyball event hosted by USA Volleyball in terms of country participation.

Further, Team USA has not hosted a women’s senior-level international tournament since the 1998 FIVB World Championship Qualifier tournament in 1998. Due to international scheduling and professional league commitments, matches on domestic soil have become a rarity with only seven contests against foreign teams in the most recent Olympic quadrennial (2005-2008).

The U.S. Women’s National Team placed fifth at the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup with a young roster, yet still qualified for the 2009 FIVB World Grand Prix. Dominican Republic captured the gold medal with a five-set victory over Brazil, which was using a junior-level team at the competition.

USA won its only Women’s Pan American Cup in 2003, its first year competing in the event after missing the first two competitions in 2001 and 2002. The U.S. earned the silver at the 2004 Women’s Pan American Cup. During the 2005-2008 Olympic quadrennial, Team USA primarily used young rosters at the event and finished with back-to-back fourth-place spots in 2005 and 2006, followed by a bronze medal in 2007.

U.S. Women’s National Team Finishes at the Pan American Cup
2008: 5th
2007: 3rd
2006: 4th
2005: 4th
2004: 2nd
2003: 1st
2002: did not compete
2001: did not compete

Brazil
Brazil, ranked No. 1 in the current FIVB World Ranking, finished second at the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup with a roster mainly of junior-level players. It won all five of its pool matches and only lost to Dominican Republic in five sets in the gold-medal match. At the 2008 Olympic Games, Brazil muscled its way through pool play and the semifinals without dropping a single set. The Brazilians faced Team USA in the Olympic Games gold-medal match and came away with a four-set victory. In 2008, Team USA and Brazil faced each other in three exhibition matches in Colorado Springs (Brazil won two of three matches), a scrimmage in Beijing prior to the Olympics and the highlight match of the Olympic Games. Brazil holds a 32-47 all-time record against the USA.

USA
USA, ranked No. 2 in the current FIVB World Ranking, finished fifth at the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup with a very young roster that included just one Olympian from the 2008 Beijing Games. Team USA completed Pool A with a 4-1 record and in a three-way tie for first place. However, it was upset by Puerto Rico in the quarterfinal round and needed to defeat Peru and Venezuela in the classification matches to qualify for the 2009 FIVB World Grand Prix as the third-best NORCECA team in the Pan American Cup. Team USA went on to finish fourth at the 2008 FIVB World Grand Prix by mixing up its roster with veterans and newcomers. The Americans placed second in the 2008 Olympic Games Pool A with a 4-1 record. Team USA collected a quarterfinal victory over then-second-ranked Italy and a sweep of then-third-ranked Cuba in the semifinals. The U.S. lost a four-set match to top-ranked Brazil in the gold-medal match, but was the only team to take at least one set off the Olympic champions. In 2009, Team USA will have a new coach but one not unfamiliar with USA Volleyball. Hugh McCutcheon assumed the head coach position of the U.S. Women’s National Team in December of 2008 after leading the U.S. Men’s Olympic Team to the gold medal in Beijing.

Cuba
Cuba, ranked No. 3 in the current FIVB World Ranking, finished a disappointing 11th at the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup with a young roster not resembling its 2008 Olympic Games roster. Cuba’s only victory was against Trinidad & Tobago in the last classification match. However, Cuba proved dominant at the 2008 Olympic Games with an undefeated record in pool play that included wins over USA and host China. Team USA defeated Cuba in straight sets in the Olympic Games semifinals. Cuba lost its chance at a bronze medal with a loss to host China in the third-place match. Team USA trails Cuba in the all-time series 49-88.

Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic, ranked No. 13 in the current FIVB World Ranking, won the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup after upsetting Brazil in the final. Dominican Republic won four of its five Pool A matches, but earned the tiebreaker over USA and Argentina who also had 4-1 records. Dominican Republic defeated the U.S. to open the tournament. However, USA still holds a 30-7 all-time record over Dominican Republic, which missed out on its opportunity to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games as Cuba won the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament and placed fourth at the World Olympic Qualification Tournament (needed to place third).

Peru
Peru, ranked No. 17 in the current FIVB World Ranking, placed seventh at the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup. The Peruvians were 2-3 in Pool B and lost a straight set match to Team USA in the first classification match. Peru ended the tournament with a five-set victory over Canada. Earlier in 2008, Peru finished second in the South American (CSV) Olympic Qualification Tournament and missing out on its chance to participate in the 2008 Olympic Games. The U.S. is 21-5 all-time versus Peru.

Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico, ranked No. 19 in the current FIVB World Ranking, placed fourth at the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup. After a 3-2 record in last year’s pool play, Puerto Rico upset the United States in the quarterfinals before it lost to Dominican Republic and Argentina in the semifinals and third-place match, respectively. As the second-highest ranked NORCECA team at the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup, Puerto Rico qualified for the 2009 FIVB World Grand Prix event later this summer. Team USA holds a 21-1 overall record against Puerto Rico when using a full senior level national team.

Canada
Canada, ranked No. 23 in the current FIVB World Ranking, placed eighth at the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup. It finished Pool B with a 4-1 record, but lost all three of its classification matches in five sets. Canada and USA did not meet in 2008, with the last meeting a three-set American victory at the 2007 NORCECA Continental Championship held at Winnipeg. Team USA holds a 68-10 all-time record versus its neighbor to the north.

Venezuela
Venezuela, ranked No. 24 in the current FIVB World Ranking, placed sixth at the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup. Despite a 1-4 record and fifth place result in Pool B in last year’s event, Venezuela came to life in the classification matches until losing a five-set match to the United States in the fifth-place match. Venezuela also competed in its first-ever Olympic Games in Beijing after upsetting Peru in the Olympic Qualification Tournament. Unfortunately, it failed to win a match during its five Olympic pool matches but did take a set off Olympic silver medalist USA. Team USA is 3-0 all-time versus Venezuela with two of the three contests coming 2008.

Mexico
Mexico, ranked No. 26 in the current FIVB World Ranking, finished 10th at the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup in which it hosted. Mexico won two of five Pool A matches for fourth place, but stumbled in its two classification matches. Team USA, when using a senior national team, is 19-0 versus Mexico all-time, including a victory at the 2008 Pan American Cup.

Uruguay
Uruguay, ranked No. 29 in the current FIVB World Ranking, did not compete in the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup. At the 2007 Women’s Pan American Cup, it finished in 11th place with a victory over Trinidad & Tobago. Team USA has never faced Uruguay.

Costa Rica
Costa Rica, ranked No. 30 in the current FIVB World Ranking, placed ninth at the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup. The Costa Ricans finished Pool A with a 1-4 record and win over Trinidad & Tobago. In classification matches, Costa Rica defeated Mexico in the ninth-place match. Team USA swept Costa Rica at last year’s Pan American Cup and are 8-0 all-time in the series history.

Argentina
Argentina, ranked No. 31 in the current FIVB World Ranking, placed third at the 2008 Women’s Pan American Cup. It tallied a 4-1 record in Pool A and finished in a three-way tie for first place with Dominican Republic and USA. Team USA defeated Argentina in the Pan American Cup pool play and holds an 11-0 record in the all-time series.

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