U.S. Women Advance to NORCECA Semifinals

Sept. 25, 2009, 11:37 p.m. (ET)

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


ANAHEIM, Calif. (Sept. 25, 2009) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, ranked second in the world, overcame an opening set loss to Canada Friday evening to win 17-25, 25-10, 25-23, 25-21 during quarterfinal play of the NORCECA Continental Championship at Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

With the victory, the USA advances to the NORCECA Championship semifinals to play Pool A winner Dominican Republic at 6 p.m. (3 p.m. Pacific Time) on Saturday. Puerto Rico downed Mexico 25-11, 25-15, 25-15 in the other quarterfinal match to advance to the semifinals to play Pool B winner Cuba. Both Dominican Republic and Cuba earned quarterfinal byes by winning their respective pools.

The NORCECA Continental Championship concludes Sept. 27 with the gold- and bronze-medal matches and two other classification matches. 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.

Canada opened the match strong with a 7-0 start in the opening set and held off a USA challenge at 16-14 to win 25-17. Team USA rebounded in the second set to take an 11-3 advantage and cruised to the 25-10 victory. The Americans came back from a 20-19 deficit in the third set to win 25-23. The U.S. rallied again in the fourth set from a 17-13 deficit with a 7-1 scoring run en route to finishing the period and match at 25-21.

“It was a very tough match and Canada presented different challenges,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said. “We are going against Dominican Republic in the semifinals. We have played them several times this year and we know each other well. We are going to battle hard and hope for the victory.”

Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) and Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.) each tallied 15 points in leading the USA offense. Fawcett scored 14 kills on 42 attacks while adding an ace. Larson scored her points via 11 kills on 38 swings, three blocks and an ace. Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) added 12 kills on 29 attacks with just one hitting error to go with a block.

Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) and Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) tacked on three blocks and eight points each for the Americans. Nancy Metcalf (Hull, Iowa) contributed five points, while Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) and Angie Pressey (Lake Mary, Fla.) provided two point apiece in limited action.

Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) and Fawcett totaled 13 digs apiece to lead the Team USA defense, while Larson added 12 digs and 19 excellent service receptions on 24 errorless attempts. Sykora added 18 excellent receptions on a team-high 30 attempts. Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) picked up 12 assists during the match, while Berg provided three assists.

“I am very happy with the victory,” Metcalf said. “They (Canada) played well, but we made the adjustments after the first set. I am content by reaching the semifinals and we will be ready for tomorrow’s match”.

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, Harmotto and Thompson all came off the bench in the opening set and started the final three sets. Pressey was a sub in the opening set, while Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) came off the bench in the fourth set. Elisha Thomas (Grass Valley, Calif.) played briefly in the third set.

The U.S. held a 54-46 advantage in kills, connecting for a 35.3 kill percent and .255 hitting efficiency. The Americans held the Canadians to a 36.8 kill percent and a .264 hitting efficiency. Canada held a slim 14-11 advantage in blocks, but six of its points at the net came in its opening set victory. USA had three aces to Canada’s two service winners. Canada also committed 24 errors to the USA’s 17.

“They played well after losing the first set,” Canada Head Coach Arnd Ludwig said. “My team has been improving with every match and our goal now is to win the next two matches and finish in the fifth position.”

Tammy Mahon sparked Canada to a team-high 15 points, while Brittney Page contributed 14 points in the loss.

“It was a very intense match but we couldn’t execute in the final moments of the third and fourth sets,” said Tammy Mahon, the captain of Canada. “Congratulations to USA.”

Cuba, which earned an automatic berth into the semifinals by winning Pool B, has won the NORCECA Continental Championship 13 times (1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2007). Meanwhile, 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.

Canada shocked the U.S. by taking a commanding 7-0 lead to start the opening set, which included three blocks in the scoring run. Canada held a 15-8 lead before the U.S. rolled off four straight points starting with a Canada service error followed by a Harmotto block and kills from Pressey and Fawcett to close the gap to 15-12. Fawcett and Harmotto scored back-to-back kills to inch the deficit down to two at 16-14. However, Canada rattled off five straight points to regain a six-point edge at 20-14. Canada tallied four consecutive points at 24-15 and won the set at 25-17 on its third set point opportunity.

The U.S. picked up an early 5-1 lead in the second set with a Barboza block, three Canada errors and a Larson kill. After Canada sliced the deficit in half at 5-3, Team USA erupted for six consecutive points with a Bown block and Larson kill around four Canada miscues. Fawcett landed an ace after a Larson kill to increase the American advantage to 13-4. With the scored doubled at 14-7, the American offense continued the pressure with a 6-0 run with Barboza scoring two kills after a Bown ace followed by a Harmotto block. Fawcett collected back-to-back kills at 22-8. Harmotto and Larson finished out the set at 25-10 with consecutive kills. The USA defense forced Canada into 11 hitting errors and a service error in the second set alone.

The U.S. moved to a 5-2 lead in the third set after consecutive Fawcett kills followed a Barboza kill and Harmotto block. Fawcett pocketed an ace after a Bown block to increase the American lead to four points at 9-5. After a Canada error, Larson served an ace at 12-7. Canada rushed back into the match at 14-13 on four unanswered points and tied the set at 17-all. Canada swung the lead to its side at 20-19. However, the U.S. returned in front 22-20 with kills from Metcalf and Barboza around a Canada error. Canada kept the set interesting by knotting the set up at 23-all, but Larson scored the final two points on kills at 25-23. Fawcett tallied seven points in the third set, while Larson finished with six points.

Canada broke a 5-all tie in the fourth set with three straight points to take an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout. Canada stretched its advantage to 12-8 and held a four-point cushion at 17-13. However, the U.S. scored seven of the next eight points to gain a 21-18 lead, thanks to two points each from Barboza and Scott-Arruda and three Canadian errors. The U.S. managed to side out the rest of the set for a 25-21 victory ending on a Fawcett kill. Barboza scored six points for the USA in the fourth set.

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: Dominican Republic def. Puerto Rico 25-21, 28-30, 25-16, 25-22 (Match 12)

Pool A Standings
Dominican Republic 3-0 (1.406 Point Ratio) * Plays PUR tonight
Puerto Rico 2-1 (1.091 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: USA (2B) def. Canada (3A) 17-25, 25-10, 25-23, 25-21 (Match 13)
Sept. 25: Puerto Rico (2A) def. Mexico (3B) 25-11, 25-15, 25-15 (Match 14)

Classification 5/8
Sept. 26: Trinidad & Tobago (4A) vs. Mexico, 2 p.m. (Match 15)
Sept. 26: Costa Rica (3B) vs. Canada, 4 p.m. (Match 16)

Sept. 26: Dominican Republic (1A) vs. USA, 6 p.m. (Match 17)
Sept. 26: Cuba (1B) vs. Puerto Rico, 8 p.m. (Match 18)

Classification 7/8
Sept. 27: Loser Match 15 vs. Loser Match 16, 2 p.m. (Match 19)

Classification 5/6
Sept. 27: Winner Match 15 vs. Winner Match 16, 4 p.m. (Match 20)

Bronze-Medal Match
Sept. 27: Loser Match 17 vs. Loser Match 18, 6 p.m. (Match 21)

Gold-Medal Match
Sept. 27: Winner Match 17 vs. Winner Match 18, 8 p.m. (Match 22)