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ANAHEIM, Calif. (Sept. 27, 2009) – In a moment of déjà vu, the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team lost a five-set marathon to Cuba 17-25, 16-25, 28-26, 25-16, 15-11 in the bronze medal match Sunday afternoon during the NORCECA Continental Championship at Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
For the second time in the tournament, the U.S. lost to Cuba in five sets after winning the opening two sets. On Sept. 23, the Americans won the first two sets against Cuba 25-19 and 25-16, only to have the Cubans bounce back to win 25-16, 28-26, 15-10. In addition, the U.S. was extended to five sets in three of the five matches it played during the NORCECA Continental Championship – all resulting in losses including a 21-25, 26-24, 10-25, 25-10, 21-19 loss to Dominican Republic in the semifinal round on Saturday evening.
The U.S. failed to medal in the NORCECA Continental Championship for the first time since 1971 in the biennial event. USA and Cuba had played against each other in 16 of the last 17 finals, but both lost in semifinal matches. Cuba was the defending champion in the event and had won 13 of the previous 20 NORCECA Championships. The Americans had won the event five times with 11 silver medals in the last 17 years.
The U.S. used a key 4-1 scoring run to take a 17-12 lead in the opening set, then scored three of the final four points for a 25-17 victory. The American broke a 5-all tie in the second set with a 5-1 spurt as it won 25-16 with the final five points to its side of the ledger. Cuba led 24-22 in the third set, but the U.S. saved four set points before the Cubans prevailed 28-26. Cuba opened the fourth set with a 6-2 advantage and built a 16-10 lead at the second technical timeout on another 6-2 run as part of a 25-16 victory. With the score tied 3-all in the fifth set, Cuba scored six of the next seven points to take a 9-4 advantage and went on to win 15-11.
“Our team ran out of gas after the third set,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “It has been a long summer and this is a learning experience for our young players because college volleyball is very different to the international game.”
Nancy Metcalf (Hull, Iowa) collected a match-high 17 points for the U.S. with 16 kills on 38 attacks and a block. Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) tallied nine kills on 14 errorless attempts, four aces and a block for 14 points. Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) chipped in a matching 14 points with 10 kills, two blocks and two aces. Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.) tacked on 10 points with eight kills and two blocks.
Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) added seven points for the USA in the loss, while Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) charted five points while as a reserve in all five sets. Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) rounded out the scoring with two aces and a kills for three points.
Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) tallied a team-high nine digs for the USA, along with 12 excellent receptions on 15 errorless attempts. Larson added six digs and team-highs of 22 excellent receptions on 46 attempts. Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) charted 11 assists in the match, while Thompson tallied six.
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 used off the bench in all five sets as part of double-switches with the setter and opposite positions. Elisha Thomas was used as a reserve in the fourth set.
Cuba held advantages in kills (58-50) and blocks (13-10) to offset USA’s advantage in aces (10-5). Further, the U.S. benefited from 33 Cuba errors to giving away 25 error points of its own. Team USA converted 38.8 percent of its attacks into points while holding a .279 hitting efficiency with 14 attack errors on 129 swings. Meanwhile, Cuba converted 42.7 percent of its attacks into points and produced a .331 hitting efficiency.
Wilma Salas paced Cuba with a team-high 15 points, while Nancy Carrillo charted 14 points. Yanelis Santos added 13 points in the victory.
The U.S. started the opening set strong by scoring the first three points with two kills from Metcalf around a Larson block. Bown jumped the U.S. lead to 5-2 with consecutive kills and the Americans went into the first technical timeout up 8-4 after a Bown kill and Barboza spike. Back-to-back Cuban errors followed by a Barboza block pushed the U.S. lead to 11-5. Cuba battled back to within to at 13-11 with three unanswered points. The Americans regained a five-point cushion at 17-12 with a Larson kill and Cuba hitting error. A Berg aced capped a 3-0 run with a Fawcett kill and Barboza block to extend the U.S. margin to 21-14. A Barboza kill and Scott-Arruda block gave the U.S. set points at 24-16, and Metcalf finished the frame at 25-17 with a kill.
Team USA built a 4-0 lead in the second set with two Barboza aces and two Cuba errors, only to have it completed erased at 5-all. Larson provided back-to-back kills to yield a 7-5 U.S. lead. Metcalf slammed a kill leading to a 3-0 spurt at 10-6. Cuba cut the deficit in half at 11-9, but the Americans answered with a Scott-Arruda block after a Cuba service error for a 14-10 margin. Scott-Arruda scored a block and two aces around a Cuban error to give the U.S. an 18-11 lead. Cuba scored four of the next six points to close to 19-15. Leading 20-16, the Americans collected the final five points of the frame with a Bown ace and kills from Scott-Arruda and Barboza. Scott-Arruda scored six points in the second set to pace the U.S. offense.
After a close start to the third set, the U.S. earned its first lead in the frame at 11-10. However, Cuba bounced back with three unanswered points to establish a 13-11 lead. Fawcett scored a kill followed by a Cuban error to knot the score at 13-all. The lead swayed back to Cuba to 15-13. Bown provided a kill and aces after a Scott-Arruda block sparking the U.S. to a 17-16 advantage. However, Cuba scored five of the next six points to take a 21-18 lead. Trailing 24-22, the U.S. saved two set points after a Bown and Barboza kill tied the set at 24-all. Barboza saved two additional set points with kills to put the score at 26-all. Cuba’s Santos ended the set at 28-26 with back-to-back kills.
After trailing 2-1 in the fourth set, Cuba climbed to a 6-2 advantage with five unanswered points. The U.S. sliced the gap in half at 6-4 with a Metcalf kill and Cuba error, but Cuba scored the next two points to go into the first technical timeout leading 8-4. A Bown kill and ace followed by a Fawcett kill cut a 10-5 deficit down to 10-8, but Cuba recovered with three straight points of its own to regain a five-point advantage at 13-8. Cuba went into the second technical timeout leading 10-16 following a service ace. Metcalf collected back-to-back kills at 16-12, but Cuba answered with three straight points for a 19-12 edge. Team USA scored four consecutive points with two Larson kills and spikes from Metcalf and Bown to close the gap to 20-16. However, Cuba earned the final five points of the set capped by a Carrillo ace at 25-16.
Bown tied the fifth set at 2-all with an ace after a Cuba error. With the score tied at 3-all, Carrillo put up consecutive blocks as part of a 4-0 Cuba run to take a 7-3 lead. Cuba increased its advantage to 9-4, but Metcalf scored a kill and block to reduce the gap to three at 9-6. A U.S. service error and Sanchez kill increased the Cuba lead back to five at 11-6. Team USA battled back to within one at 11-10 with four straight points behind a Metcalf kill and Thompson ace. However, the U.S. would not get any closer as Cuba closed out the set 15-11.
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)
Sept. 26: Mexico def. Trinidad & Tobago (4A) 25-20, 25-16, 25-16 (Match 15)
Sept. 26: Canada Costa Rica (3B) 25-17, 25-16, 25-22 (Match 16)
Sept. 26: Dominican Republic (1A) def. USA 21-25, 26-24, 10-25, 25-20, 21-19 (Match 17)
Sept. 26: Puerto Rico def. Cuba (1B) 21-25, 25-23, 25-17, 20-25, 21-19 (Match 18)
Sept. 27: Costa Rica def. Trinidad & Tobago 25-18, 25-22, 25-23 (Match 19)
Sept. 27: Canada def. Mexico 25-22, 25-21, 25-19 (Match 20)
Sept. 27: Cuba def. USA 17-25, 16-25, 28-26, 25-16, 15-11 (Match 21)
Sept. 27: Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico, 6 p.m. (Match 22)