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ANAHEIM, Calif. (Sept. 23, 2009) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, ranked second in the world, dropped a heart-breaking five-set match to Cuba 19-25, 16-25, 25-16, 28-26, 15-10 on Wednesday evening in NORCECA Continental Championship Pool B action being held at Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
Cuba improves to 2-0 in pool play, while the U.S. falls to 1-1. Team USA, which was playing fifth-ranked Cuba for the first time since the Americans’ victory over the island nation during the 2008 Olympic Games semifinals, concludes pool play against No. 30 Costa Rica on Thursday at 6 p.m. (3 p.m. Pacific Time). Earlier today, Mexico (1-1) defeated Costa Rica (0-2) in four sets. The NORCECA Continental Championship 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. overcame a 15-12 deficit in the opening set using a 4-0 scoring spurt and tallying the final 13 of 17 points to propel it to a 25-19 victory. The Americans jumped to a 7-3 lead in the second set and led 22-12 before settling in on a 25-16 victory. Cuba rebounded to gain a 6-2 advantage in the third set, held off a U.S. charge to close to 12-10 before wrapping up the set at 25-16. The U.S. led 22-20 in the fourth set and had three match points before Cuba bounced back to score the final three points for a 28-26 victory. In the tiebreaking fifth set, Cuba scored the first three points and built a five-point cushion at 9-4 and went on to win 15-10.
“We can learn a lot from tonight and I hope we can meet Cuba again and make the adjustments we need to make,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon said.
Nancy Metcalf (Hull, Iowa) scored a team-high 16 points in leading the USA with 14 kills on 32 swings, one block and one ace. Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.) added 14 points via 12 kills, one ace and one block. Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) charted seven kills and a block for eight points. Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) and Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) each scored six points at the middle blocker position. Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) contributed four points in a reserve role, while Angie Pressey (Lake Mary, Fla.) and Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) rounded out the American scoring with two points apiece.
Berg handled eight assists during the match, while Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) added three assists in a reserve role all three sets. Larson paced the U.S. defense with 14 digs and 13 excellent receptions on 38 attempts. Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) tallied nine digs to go with 12 excellent receptions on 19 errorless attempts.
McCutcheon started Berg at setter, Metcalf at opposite, Bown and Scott-Arruda at middle blocker and Barboza and Larson at outside hitter. Sykora was the libero for the match. Fawcett and Thompson were involved in double switches in all five sets, while Pressey was a sub in the fourth set.
Cuba out-scored the U.S. 62-47 in kills and 14-7 in blocks, but the Americans benefited from 44 Cuban errors while committing just 21 of its own miscues. The U.S. had a 41.5 excellent service reception percent to Cuba’s 46.9 percent. Team USA converted 35.6 percent of its attacks into kills with a .220 hitting efficiency. Meanwhile, Cuba tallied a 42.2 kill percent and .306 hitting efficiency.
Cuba’s Nancy Carrillo led all scorers with 23 points through 16 kills, match-high five blocks and two aces. Kenia Carcaces added 17 points on 15 kills and two blocks. Yanelis Santos chipped in 16 points in the victory, while teammate Wilma Salas tacked on 14 points.
The Americans and Cubans are no strangers to meeting on the court, and the matches often go the distance. The U.S. defeated Cuba in three sets during the 2008 Olympic Games semifinals to avenge a pool-play three-set loss in the event. Leading up to the 2008 Olympics, USA and Cuba had engaged in four consecutive five-set matches with both teams winning two.
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.
Bown and Barboza scored consecutive kills to give the U.S. its first lead of the opening set at 3-2, but the lead changed over to Cuba at 6-5 on a Giselle Silva kill. Cuba stretched its advantage to 11-8 which included two kills from Salas. Larson scored an ace at 11-10, only to have Cuba respond with consecutive points to return to a three-point edge at 13-10. The teams traded two-point scoring runs right before the second technical timeout with Cuba leading 15-12. However, the U.S. kicked into gear with kills from Scott-Arruda and Barboza leading to a 4-0 scoring run giving the U.S. a 16-15 lead. Scott-Arruda and Metcalf pocketed back-to-back kills followed by a Cuba error to lift the U.S. in front 20-16. Larson scored consecutive kills giving the U.S. a 22-17 advantage. Larson scored her sixth point of the set at 23-18 and the U.S. went on to win 25-19 on consecutive Cuban errors.
Metcalf scored the first two points of the second set before Cuba regained a tie at 3-all. Bown started a 4-0 U.S. scoring run with a kill followed by three Cuban errors at 7-3. Barboza chipped in back-to-back kills at 9-4. After Cuba cut the gap to three at 9-6, Berg scored an ace and Barboza landed a kill during a 5-0 American spurt at 14-6. Cuba responded with four unanswered points as Santos nailed two aces. However, Team USA put together five straight points with two kills from Larson and a point by Metcalf for a 19-11 advantage. The U.S. lead reached double-digits at 21-11 with a Larson block. Cuba whittled the gap to seven at 22-15 with a Carillo block capping three straight points. Larson and Metcalf contributed consecutive kills to yield set points at 24-15, and Metcalf ended the frame with her sixth kill of the set at 25-16.
Cuba never trailed in the third set as it built an early 6-2 lead and pushed the gap to five points at 12-7. Metcalf served an ace after her own kill followed by a Bown kill to cut the deficit to 12-10. Cuba answered by scoring seven of the next eight points to take a commanding 19-11 lead. Berg served an ace after consecutive Cuba errors to move the U.S. to 20-15. Cuba scored five of the final six points to win 25-16.
Cuba gained an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout of the fourth set, but Scott-Arruda scored two kills and a block to tie the set at 8-all out of the break. Cuba answered with its own 3-0 run to assume an 11-8 advantage. Trailing 15-12, the U.S. scored four straight points to take a 16-15 lead at the second technical timeout as Bown put up two blocks around two Cuban errors. Cuba regained the lead at 17-16 with a Santos kill and ace. Scott-Arruda gave the Americans the lead back at 19-18 with a block. The U.S. extended the lead to 21-19 with back-to-back kills from Pressey and Larson. Cuba knotted the score at 22-all on a Kenia Carcaces kill. Larson gave the U.S. its first match point with a kill at 24-23. After Pressey gave the U.S. its third match point opportunity with a kill at 26-25, Cuba scored three straight points capped by a Yusidey Silie block at 28-26 to push the match to the tiebreaker.
Cuba jumped to a 3-0 lead in the fifth set as Salas scored two kills and Carrillo added another forcing a USA timeout. Cuba extended its lead to 6-2 as Salas followed up her own kill with an ace. Cuba gained a 9-4 lead after kills from Carrillo and Silva, which led to USA’s second timeout of the set. Metcalf put up a block at 9-6 after a Cuba service error. However, the U.S. could only trade points through 13-10 and Cuba scored the final two points.
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 def. Trinidad & Tobago 25-12, 25-10, 25-7 (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)