FIVB World Grand Prix Next Test for U.S. Women

Aug. 03, 2010, 11:54 a.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800

U.S. Press Kit for FIVB World Grand Prix

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 3, 2010) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team is 9-3 in 2010 with podium finishes in its first two tournaments, but the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix in August will serve as its next challenge on the road to the 2010 FIVB World Championships at the end of the year.

The FIVB World Grand Prix, the annual premier international women’s volleyball tournament now in its 18th year since its introduction in 1993, is a 12-team event pitting most of the top teams in the world. The event has three consecutive weekends of preliminary round pool play divided into three locations per weekend with four teams each competing in a round-robin format. Teams accumulate nine total matches through the three preliminary round weekends, with the top five teams in the standings joining the host country for the Final Round.

Team USA, currently ranked fourth in the FIVB world rankings, travels to Gdynia, Poland, the opening weekend to face Dominican Republic on Aug. 6, Germany on Aug. 7 and host Poland on Aug. 8. The Americans travel to Bangkok, Thailand, for the second preliminary round weekend and will challenge Italy on Aug. 13, Thailand on Aug. 14 and Puerto Rico on Aug. 15. The U.S. concludes pool play in Hong Kong with matches against Germany on Aug. 20, Thailand on Aug. 21 and China on Aug. 22.

During the preliminary round, match winners will receive three points for a 3-0 or 3-1 victory and two points for a 3-2 victory in the overall standings to determine the teams advancing to the Final Round. A team that loses in five sets will be awarded one point. The 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round, a round-robin format consisting of five matches over five days, will be held Aug. 25-29 at Ningbo, China.

Based on the preliminary round pools, the U.S. has a modest schedule with an overall 9.88 world ranking and only one match against a team ranked higher than No. 7. Yet, the bottom line for the tournament aside from winning is improvement with each opportunity on the court.

“We want to keep getting better with each match, and that is the main focus for this trip,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “We will use the World Grand Prix as further preparation for the FIVB World Championship. By the end of the World Grand Prix, we hope to know more about our team and what we need to do to be successful as we move closer to forming our core group of players for the rest of the quadrennial.”

For the FIVB World Grand Prix, McCutcheon has named the team’s 19-player preliminary roster for the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix. The outside hitters are three-time Olympian Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah), Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.), Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.), Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.) and Angie Pressey Forsett (Lake Mary, Fla.). Opposite hitters on the preliminary roster are two-time Olympian Ogonna Nnamani (Bloomington, Ill.), 2004 Olympian Nancy Metcalf (Hull, Iowa), Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) and Destinee Hooker (San Antonio, Texas).

Middle Blockers on the roster are three-time Olympian Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.), 2008 Olympian and team captain Jennifer Tamas (Milpitas, Calif.), Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.), Christa Harmotto (Hopewell, Pa.) and Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich.). The three setters on the preliminary roster are Mary 'Nellie' Spicer (Barrington, Ill.), Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) and Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.). The two liberos listed on the preliminary roster are three-time Olympian Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) and 2008 Olympian Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.).

Each team in the World Grand Prix can travel 14 players selected from the original 19 players. However, only 12 players can participate in each match and determined prior to the start of each contest. Each team can make two substitutions to its original 14-player roster per preliminary round weekend, so long as the new players were on the 19-player preliminary roster. The final player roster for the Poland preliminary weekend will be announced on Aug. 5, the day of the preliminary inquiry when rosters are submitted to the control committee.

The U.S. will be making its 17th appearance in the FIVB World Grand Prix having missed just the 1999 event. Only China and Japan have played in every World Grand Prix. Team USA won the World Grand Prix in 1995 and 2001, while earning the bronze in 2003 and 2004. Last year, the U.S. used a very young roster at the World Grand Prix to provide important international experience in their playing development. Despite an unimpressive 3-6 record and ninth-place finish, the players were able to improve and the results are showing this year.

Fans can watch the FIVB World Grand Prix action online via a couple Web sites. Universal Sports ( will show all three USA matches in Poland live, while the next six matches played in Thailand and Hong Kong will be available tape delayed for same-day coverage. Selected matches will also be shown on television. All matches will be on-demand after they take place. The FIVB has created its own web streaming channel and some matches of the FIVB World Grand Prix will be available. Visit the FIVB TV page by clicking here.

Prior to leaving for Poland, the U.S. staged two intra-squad Red-Blue scrimmages in Southern California in front of near-capacity crowds. Hodge scored a total of 42 points in the two matches for an overall team-high. Tom tallied 28 points in the first match on July 17, but did not play in the second contest. Larson, who did not play in the first match, scored a team-high 24 points in the second scrimmage on July 24.

“The two Red-Blue scrimmages were mainly positive,” McCutcheon said. “First, it was great to see the support provided our team from the local communities in which we train. It is always nice to compete in such a nice environment at home. And second, the scrimmages gave us an opportunity to look at new players and combinations to help make decisions for the World Grand Prix rosters each weekend.”

The U.S. has played in two tournaments this year, both days apart in June. Team USA captured the silver medal at the prestigious 26th Montreux Volley Masters held in Switzerland from June 8-13. The U.S. topped its NORCECA rival Cuba in straight sets during the semifinals, but dropped a hard-fought four-set match to China in the gold-medal match.

Most recently, the Americans earned the bronze medal at the IX Pan American Cup in Mexico. During the Pan American Cup, the U.S. won all five of its pool matches in straights sets before falling to Dominican Republic in four sets during the semifinals. However, the Americans bounced back to sweep Cuba for the second time in 2010 to gain the bronze medal. Based on its finish in the tournament, the U.S. qualified for the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix.

“Our main goal was to qualify to the World Grand Prix, but it was good to see our team coming back strong after the loss of last night (to Dominican Republic),” McCutcheon said. “We are happy with the victory and happy about going to the Grand Prix next year.”

With two successful tournaments in 2010 and two Red-Blue matches involving 20 athletes, McCutcheon feels the team has made vast improvement since the first year of the quadrennial.

“Our early season success validates a lot of our hard work put in last year,” McCutcheon said. “If we can keep working on the technique systems and principles, we can be a good team. We are off to a nice start, but now we need to get back to the competition court. Hopefully, we are a little better than a month ago.”

Through the early part of 2010, the U.S. has traveled 28 different players to international events including the exhibitions in China, Montreux and the Pan American Cup. Just the last two events in Switzerland and Mexico, McCutcheon utilized 18 different players. Add the World Grand Prix roster into the mix, three additional players – Tom, Hooker and Paolini – could be seeing their first action of 2010.

“We are going to have a lot of difficult decisions in the coming months in deciding our World Championship roster and moving forward through the quadrennial,” McCutcheon said. “We are developing a lot of depth on our team in all positions. Suiting up as many players as we have has been by design. It has allowed us to look at different combinations of players. Montreux and Pan American Cup were positives in that respect with having the different lineups.”

McCutcheon said that many countries use predominantly the same 12 players for each tournament, and that is not the case for his squad.

“For us, we have depth and that is a strength for us as we can accelerate our own development,” McCutcheon said. “No one gets to rest on their laurels. Everyone has to perform to earn playing time.”

And there will be plenty of playing time throughout the month of August, thanks to the World Grand Prix.

U.S. Women’s National Team Preliminary Roster for FIVB World Grand Prix
# - Name (Pos, Ht, Hometown, College)
1 - Ogonna Nnamani (OPP, 6-1, Bloomington, Ill., Stanford)
2 - Alisha Glass (S, 6-0, Leland, Mich., Penn State)
3 - Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, Aliquippa, Pa., Penn State)
4 - Angie Pressey Forsett (OH, 5-8, Lake Mary, Fla., California)
5 - Stacy Sykora (L, 5-10, Burleson, Texas, Texas A&M)
6 - Nicole Davis (L, 5-4, Stockton, Calif., Southern California)
7 - Heather Bown (MB, 6-3, Yorba Linda, Calif., Hawaii)
8 - Cynthia Barboza (OH, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Stanford)
9 - Jennifer Tamas (MB, 6-4, Milpitas, Calif., Pacific)
10 - Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, Kent, Wash., Washington)
11 - Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., Nebraska)
12 - Nancy Metcalf (OPP, 6-1, Hull, Iowa, Nebraska)
13 - Lauren Paolini (MB, 6-4, Ann Arbor, Mich., Texas)
14 - Nicole Fawcett (OPP, 6-4, Zanesfield, Ohio, Penn State)
15 - Logan Tom (OH, 6-1, Salt Lake City, Utah, Stanford)
16 - Foluke Akinradewo (MB, 6-3, Plantation, Fla., Stanford)
17 - Nellie Spicer (S, 5-9, Barrington, Ill., UCLA)
18 - Megan Hodge (OH, 6-3, Durham, N.C., Penn State)
19 - Destinee Hooker (OPP, 6-4, San Antonio, Texas, Texas)

Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Assistant Coach: Karch Kiraly (San Clemente, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Jim Stone (Columbus, Ohio)
Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison (Dana Point, Calif.)
Athletic Trainer/Medical Support: Jill Wosmek (Silver Lake, Minn.)
Team Leader for Poland/Thailand: Reed Sunahara (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Team Leader for Hong Kong/Japan: Laurel Iversen (Kalaheo, Hawaii)

2010 FIVB World Grand Prix Schedule

Pool A (Sao Carlos, Brazil * Ginasio Nilton Olaio Filho)
Aug. 6: Brazil vs. Chinese Taipei, 9:20 a.m.
Aug. 6: Italy vs. Japan, 1 p.m.
Aug. 7: Brazil vs. Japan, 10 a.m.
Aug. 7: Chinese Taipei vs. Italy, 1 p.m.
Aug. 8: Brazil vs. Italy, 9:30 a.m.
Aug. 8: Japan vs. Chinese Taipei, 1 p.m.

Pool B (Gdynia, Poland * Gdynia Competition Hall)
Aug. 6: USA vs. Dominican Republic, 5 p.m.
Aug. 6: Poland vs. Germany, 8 p.m.
Aug. 7: Poland vs. Dominican Republic, 4:15 p.m.
Aug. 7: USA vs. Germany, 7:15 p.m.
Aug. 8: USA vs. Poland, 4:15 p.m.
Aug. 8: Germany vs. Dominican Republic, 7:15 p.m.

Pool C (Chengdu, China * Sichuan Provincial Sports Bureau)
Aug. 6: Netherlands vs. Thailand, 4 p.m.
Aug. 6: China vs. Puerto Rico, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 7: Puerto Rico vs. Netherlands, 4 p.m.
Aug. 7: Thailand vs. China, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 8: China vs. Netherlands, 4 p.m.
Aug. 8: Thailand vs. Puerto Rico, 7:30 p.m.

Pool D (Bangkok, Thailand * Keelawes 2)
Aug. 13: USA vs. Italy, 3 p.m.
Aug. 13: Thailand vs. Puerto Rico, 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 14: Puerto Rico vs. Italy, 2 p.m.
Aug. 14: USA vs. Thailand, 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 15: USA vs. Puerto Rico, 3 p.m.
Aug. 15: Italy vs. Thailand, 5:30 p.m.

Pool E (Macau, China * Forum de Macau)
Aug. 13: Brazil vs. Dominican Republic, 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 13: China vs. Netherlands, 9 p.m.
Aug. 14: Brazil vs. Netherlands, 2 p.m.
Aug. 14: China vs. Dominican Republic, 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 15: Netherlands vs. Dominican Republic, 1 p.m.
Aug. 15: China vs. Brazil, 3:30 p.m.

Pool F (Okayama, Japan * Okayama Momotaro Arena)
Aug. 13: Chinese Taipei vs. Poland, 3 p.m.
Aug. 13: Japan vs. Germany, 6 p.m.
Aug. 14: Germany vs. Chinese Taipei, 2 p.m.
Aug. 14: Japan vs. Poland, 5 p.m.
Aug. 15: Germany vs. Poland, 2 p.m.
Aug. 15: Japan vs. Chinese Taipei, 5 p.m.

Pool G (Hong Kong, China * Hong Kong Coliseum)
Aug. 20: USA vs. Germany, 3 p.m.
Aug. 20: China vs. Thailand, 8 p.m.
Aug. 21: USA vs. Thailand, 1:15 p.m.
Aug. 21: China vs. Germany, 3:45 p.m.
Aug. 22: Germany vs. Thailand, 1:15 p.m.
Aug. 22: USA vs. China, 3:45 p.m.

Pool H (Taipei, Chinese Taipei * Taiwan University Gym)
Aug. 20: Brazil vs. Puerto Rico, 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 20: Poland vs. Chinese Taipei, 7 p.m.
Aug. 21: Puerto Rico vs. Poland, 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 21: Chinese Taipei vs. Brazil, 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 22: Brazil vs. Poland, 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 22: Chinese Taipei vs. Puerto Rico, 4:30 p.m.

Pool I (Tokyo, Japan * Yoyogi National Stadium)
Aug. 20: Italy vs. Netherlands, 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 20: Japan vs. Dominican Republic, 6:30 p.m.
Aug. 21: Dominican Republic vs. Netherlands, 2 p.m.
Aug. 21: Japan vs. Italy, 7 p.m.
Aug. 22: Dominican Republic vs. Italy, 2 p.m.
Aug. 22: Japan vs. Netherlands, 5 p.m.

Final Round (Ningbo, China * Ningbo Beilun Gymnasium)
Aug. 25-29: Teams TBA