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ANAHEIM, Calif. (Sept. 24, 2009) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, ranked second in the world, dominated Costa Rica 25-7, 25-10, 25-13 on Thursday evening to conclude NORCECA Continental Championship Pool B at Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
With the victory, Team USA finishes second in the pool with a 2-1 record and advances to the quarterfinals to play Canada on Friday scheduled for 6 p.m. (3 p.m. Pacific Time). Cuba won Pool B with a 3-0 record after handling Mexico earlier today and receives an automatic berth into the semifinals.
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. scored the first six points of the opening against Costa Rica and cruised to the 25-7 victory, which included four aces and three blocks. After Costa Rica earned its first lead of the match at 8-7 in the second set, the U.S. rattled off 15 of the next 17 points for a convincing 25-10 victory. Costa Rica led 6-5 and 7-6 in the third set, but a 6-0 U.S. scoring run built a 12-7 advantage and the Americans went on to win 25-12.
“We are ready to face Canada,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “But it was not a surprise that we lost to Cuba in our pool. Now we are ready to play as many matches as we can.”
Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) scored 11 kills on 17 errorless attacks to go with an ace in leading the U.S. offense. She was also the only player to start all three sets. Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) added five kills on six errorless attacks and five blocks for 10 points despite only playing the final two sets. Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) chipped in eight kills on 14 attacks while starting just one set. Nancy Metcalf (Hull, Iowa) contributed six kills on 14 errorless swings to go with one block for seven points in two sets of action.
Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) charted four points including two blocks in just the first set. Angie Pressey (Lake Mary, Fla.), Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.) and Elisha Thomas (Grass Valley, Calif.) all tacked on three points. Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) scored both her points on aces, while Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) rounded out the scoring with a block.
Berg led the American defense with eight digs from her setter position to go with four assists. Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) and Metcalf each added four digs in the victory. Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) provided a team-high five assists. Pressey and Sykora each tallied team-high five excellent receptions on seven attempts each.
“I am very happy with the victory but we want to keep focused in our next matches,” Metcalf said.
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. Pressey and Harmotto started the second and third sets. Fawcett, Thompson and Thomas were subs in the first two sets, then started the third set.
The U.S. connected for kills on 51.4 percent of its attack attempts (37 of 72) and scored a .472 hitting efficiency with only three attack errors on the evening. The Americans held 12-2 block advantage and 4-0 margin in aces. Team USA defense held Costa Rica to a 22.7 conversion rate on attack attempts (17 of 75). Costa Rica committed 23 errors in the match, including 16 hitting errors.
Verania Willis paced Costa Rica with nine points, while Karen Cope added four points.
“The serves of USA did a lot of damage today as our reception is one aspect we need to improve,” Willis said.
“Playing against USA is always very tough because it is a team that makes few mistakes,” said Braulio Godinez, the Costa Rican coach. “Also our attack is very predictable and they were ready with their blocking.”
The U.S. has now defeated Costa Rica three times in 2009, all in different tournaments. The Americans allowed the Costa Ricans only 29 points to open the Pan American Cup on June 26. In the gold-medal match of the FIVB World Championship Qualification Tournament – NORCECA Pool G, the U.S. defeated Costa Rica 25-15, 25-9, 25-15 to earn a berth into next year’s World Championship in Japan.
Earlier in the NORCECA Championship, the U.S. topped Mexico in three sets on Sept. 22 and lost a heart-breaking five-set match to Cuba on Sept. 23 after winning the first two sets and having three match points in the fourth set.
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.
The U.S. built an early 6-0 advantage in the opening set as Scott-Arruda and Barboza led with kills, followed by two aces from Berg and capped by two Metcalf kills. Barboza served an ace to give the U.S. an 8-1 lead at the first technical timeout after a Scott-Arruda kill. Costa Rica traded points through 11-4, but Fawcett started a 3-0 USA run with a kill and Larson added an ace to give the Americans a 14-4 advantage. Leading 15-6, the U.S. scored 10 of the final 11 points with two kills from Barboza and a set-ending Thomas block at 25-7 for her first point of the season.
Metcalf and Harmotto scored kills around a Costa Rica error to yield a quick 3-0 start for the U.S. in the second set. Bown put up a block after a Costa Rica service error to extend the margin to 6-2. However, Costa Rica stormed back with four unanswered points with two points from Willis to tie the set. Costa Rica earned its first lead at 8-7 going into the first technical timeout, but it was all downhill after the break. Two Costa Rica errors put the U.S. back in the lead at 9-8. Barboza broke a 9-all tie with a kill and started a 3-0 run for a 12-9 lead. The Americans rattled off eight consecutive points to take a 20-12 lead with three points coming off Barboza kills and an ace by Berg. After Costa Rica broke the scoring run, Team USA scored the final five points for a 25-10 victory with kills from Harmotto and Pressey in the last flurry.
The U.S. earned a 3-0 start to the third set with kills coming from Harmotto, Barboza and Fawcett. Costa Rica answered by taking a 6-5 advantage. Trailing 7-6, the U.S. took advantage of four Costa Rica errors around kills by Thomas and Fawcett to provide the Americans a 12-7 margin. Costa Rica inched back to within four at 13-9, but Fawcett and Barboza responded with kills to return the gap to six at 15-9. Harmotto tallied two blocks and a kill while Fawcett and Richards added kills to extend the margin to double digits at 20-10. Another 4-0 run by the U.S. gave it match points at 24-11 as Harmotto tallied a kill and block after Richards and Pressey earned consecutive kills. Fawcett ended the match at 25-13 with a kill.
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: 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: Dominican Republic def. Canada 25-20, 25-22, 25-20 (Match 3)
Sept. 22: Puerto Rico def. Trinidad & Tobago 25-18, 25-15, 25-17 (Match 4)
Sept. 23: Dominican Republic def. Trinidad & Tobago 25-12, 25-10, 25-7 (Match 6)
Sept. 23: Puerto Rico def. Canada 25-22, 25-23, 25-21 (Match 8)
Sept. 24: Canada def. Trinidad & Tobago 25-20, 25-16, 25-19 (Match 9)
Sept. 24: Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic, 8 p.m. (Match 12)
Pool A Standings
Dominican Republic 2-0 (1.648 Point Ratio) * Plays PUR tonight
Puerto Rico 2-0 (1.293 Point Ratio) * Plays DOM tonight
Canada 1-2 (0.990 Point Ratio)
Trinidad & Tobago 0-3 (0.596 Point Ratio)
Pool B Round Robin
Sept. 22: USA def. Mexico 25-18, 25-10, 25-13 (Match 1)
Sept. 22: Cuba def. Costa Rica 25-14, 25-10, 22-25, 25-20 (Match 2)
Sept. 23: Mexico def. Costa Rica 28-26, 23-25, 25-19, 25-19 (Match 5)
Sept. 23: Cuba def. USA 19-25, 16-25, 25-16, 28-26, 15-10 (Match 7)
Sept. 24: Cuba def. Mexico 25-15, 25-13, 25-14 (Match 10)
Sept. 24: USA def. Costa Rica 25-7, 25-10, 25-13 (Match 11)
Pool B Standings
Cuba 3-0 (1.291 Point Ratio)
USA 2-1 (1.448 Point Ratio)
Mexico 1-2 (0.770 Point Ratio)
Costa Rica 0-3 (0.689 Point Ratio)
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)