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ANAHEIM, Calif. (Sept. 22, 2009) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, ranked second in the world, opened the NORCECA Continental Championship with a 25-18, 25-10, 25-13 victory over Mexico in Pool B on Tuesday afternoon at the event being held at Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
Team USA continues pool play on Wednesday against No. 5 Cuba at 6 p.m. (3 p.m. Pacific Time), followed by a match against No. 30 Costa Rica on Thursday at 6 p.m. (3 p.m. Pacific Time). The tournament concludes Sept. 27 after the quarterfinal round on Sept. 25 and semifinals/classifications on Sept. 26.
The NORCECA Continental Championship winner qualifies for the 2009 FIVB Grand Champions Cup to be held Nov. 10-15 in Japan. Each of the four continental champions earns a spot into the FIVB Grand Champions Cup, along with host Japan and one wild card team.
The U.S. rallied from a 15-13 deficit in the opening set by scoring 12 of the final 15 points for a 25-18 victory. Team USA continued the momentum in the second set by taking a commanding 17-3 advantage in working to the 25-10 victory. Mexico led 6-4 early in the third set with four unanswered points, but a 5-0 run ignited the Americans to a 9-6 edge as they went on to win 25-13.
“Mexico played a strong first set and we didn’t perform up to our level, but then we settled down and I hope we can build from the last two sets and play better tomorrow and the rest of the tournament,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said.
Nancy Metcalf (Hull, Iowa) paced the U.S. offense with 11 points, including 10 kills on 19 attacks and just one error to go with a block. Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) added 10 points on the strength of nine kills on 18 attacks and a block. Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.) chipped in eight kills on 12 attacks and one block for nine points. Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) contributed six kills on eight attacks and an ace for seven points. Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) pocketed five points, all on kills off 12 attacks, in a reserve role. Lindsey Berg (Honolulu, Hawaii) scored three aces and a block to match Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) with four points. Angie Pressey (Lake Mary, Fla.) and Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) each tallied two points in the victory.
Berg set the USA offense with 13 assists on 54 set attempts, while Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) added four assists in limited action in all three sets. Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) produced a team-leading nine digs while having eight excellent service receptions on 13 attempts. Barboza added six digs and four excellent receptions. Larson had seven excellent receptions on eight attempts to go with five digs.
McCutcheon started Berg at setter, Metcalf at opposite, Bown and Harmotto at middle blocker and Barboza and Pressey at outside hitter. Sykora was the libero for the match. Fawcett subbed into the match all three sets as part of double-switches with Thompson. Larson came off the bench in the first set and started the final two sets. Scott-Arruda started the final set in place of Bown, who subbed back into the match in the third set.
Team USA won all three scoring categories with advantages of 5-1 in blocks, 6-1 in aces and 43-25 in kills. The Americans converted 43 of 82 attacks into points for a 52.4 kill percent. Further, the U.S. held a .439 hitting efficiency with only seven hitting errors. Team USA limited Mexico to a 25.5 kill percent and held a sizeable 27-16 dig advantage. The U.S. also took advantage of 21 Mexico errors to its own 14.
Olivia Meza and Cecilia Rios each had eight points for Mexico.
“To play against a team like USA was a motivation for our players who enjoyed the experience of competing against a great team,” Mexico Head Coach Samuel Cibrian said. “We paid the price of playing with a very young team against an opponent bigger in size and experience.”
For the NORCECA Continental Championship, the U.S. is grouped in Pool B with defending champion Cuba, Mexico and Costa Rica. Historically, this year’s Pool B participants have ruled the NORCECA Continental Championship with all 20 previous titles. Cuba (1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2007) has won the event 13 times, while the United States (1981, 1983, 2001, 2003, 2005) has won the championship five times and Mexico twice (1969, 1971). Further, USA and Cuba have played against each other in 16 of the last 17 finals.
USA and Mexico traded the first eight points of the opening set before Mexico gained a two-point cushion at 5-4. The U.S. earned the lead at 7-6 following a Pressey kill, only to have Mexico regain the advantage at 9-8. Metcalf turned in a kill as part of a 4-0 spurt by the U.S. to take a 12-10 lead. However, Mexico built a 15-13 advantage by scoring five of the next six points. The U.S. responded with a 4-0 run with kills coming from Harmotto and Metcalf and a block from Bown to go up 17-15. Fawcett provided a kill immediately after entering the match and a Metcalf kill to lift the U.S. in front 19-16. Larson chipped in a block between a Mexico service error and attack error to extend the U.S. advantage to 22-17. Team USA scored the final three points of the set at 25-18 with a kill and ace by Bown leading to several set points.
Harmotto tallied two kills after Barboza led the second set with a spike to give the U.S. a 3-0 cushion. After a Mexico point, Barboza gave the U.S. the serve back with a kill and Berg took over at the service line with three consecutive aces after a Metcalf kill to push the gap to 9-1. Metcalf contributed a kill and block to lift the U.S. in front 11-2. After Mexico’s third point of the set, U.S. cruised out to a 17-3 advantage with six unanswered points with two kills from Larson, a Harmotto ace and three Mexico attack errors. Mexico scored consecutive points at 18-6, but could not score on its serve the rest of the set. Fawcett provided two kills down the stretch as the U.S. won 25-10.
The U.S. secured an early 4-2 lead in the third set with three straight kills coming from Larson, Metcalf and Scott-Arruda. However, Mexico turned the tide with four straight points to obtain a 6-4 margin. The Americans answered with five consecutive points started by back-to-back kills from Larson, a Harmotto kill and two Mexico errors at 9-6. Harmotto and Fawcett collected back-to-back kills to push the U.S. advantage to 12-7. Leading 14-9 in the third set, the U.S. gained complete control at 19-9 with five straight points that included two kills by Barboza around a Bown ace. Mexico stopped the bleeding with consecutive points and traded rallies to 21-13. However, the Americans scored the final four points of the set at 25-13 with kills from Larson and Metcalf followed by two Mexico errors.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for 2009 NORCECA Continental Championship
# - Name (Pos, Ht, Hometown, College)
1 - Nicole Fawcett (OPP, 6-4, Zanesfield, Ohio, Penn State)
2 - Danielle Scott-Arruda (MB, 6-2, Baton Rouge, La., Long Beach State)
3 - Angie Pressey (OH, 5-8, Lake Mary, Fla., California-Berkeley)
4 - Lindsey Berg (S, 5-8, Honolulu, Hawaii, Minnesota)
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)
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 - Elisha Thomas (MB, 6-3, Grass Valley, Calif., Long Beach State)
16 - Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, Aliquippa, Pa., Penn State)
18 - Courtney Thompson (S, 5-7, Kent, Wash., Washington)
Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Assistant Coach: Karch Kiraly (San Clemente, Calif.), Tom Pestolesi (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison (Dana Point, Calif.)
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek (Silver Lake, Minn.)
Team Leader/Manager: Carl McGown
2009 NORCECA Continental Championship Schedule
Pool A: Canada, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago
Pool B: Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, United States
Pool A Round Robin
Sept. 22: Canada vs. Dominican Republic, 6 p.m. (Match 3)
Sept. 22: Puerto Rico vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 8 p.m. (Match 4)
Sept. 23: Dominican Republic vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 4 p.m. (Match 6)
Sept. 23: Canada vs. Puerto Rico, 8 p.m. (Match 8)
Sept. 24: Canada vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 2 p.m. (Match 9)
Sept. 24: Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic, 8 p.m. (Match 12)
Pool B Round Robin
Sept. 22: USA def. Mexico 25-18, 25-10, 25-13 (Match 1)
Sept. 22: Cuba vs. Costa Rica, 4 p.m. (Match 2)
Sept. 23: Costa Rica vs. Mexico, 2 p.m. (Match 5)
Sept. 23: USA vs. Cuba, 6 p.m. (Match 7)
Sept. 24: Cuba vs. Mexico, 4 p.m. (Match 10)
Sept. 24: USA vs. Costa Rica, 6 p.m. (Match 11)
Sept. 25: 2nd Pool B vs. 3rd Pool A, 6 p.m. (Match 13)
Sept. 25: 2nd Pool A vs. 3rd Pool B, 8 p.m. (Match 14)
Sept. 26: 4th Pool A vs. Loser Match 13 or 14, 2 p.m. (Match 15)
Sept. 26: 4th Pool B vs. Loser Match 13 or 14, 4 p.m. (Match 16)
Sept. 26: 1st Pool A vs. Winner Match 13 or 14, 6 p.m. (Match 17)
Sept. 26: 1st Pool B vs. Winner Match 13 or 14, 8 p.m. (Match 18)
Sept. 27: Loser Match 15 vs. Loser Match 16, 2 p.m. (Match 19)
Sept. 27: Winner Match 15 vs. Winner Match 16, 4 p.m. (Match 20)
Sept. 27: Loser Match 17 vs. Loser Match 18, 6 p.m. (Match 21)
Sept. 27: Winner Match 17 vs. Winner Match 18, 8 p.m. (Match 22)