U.S. Women Build Momentum Into Grand Prix Finals

Aug. 24, 2010, 3:26 a.m. (ET)

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

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 24, 2010) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team rides a six-match win streak into the 18th FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round that begins on Aug. 25 at Ningbo, China.

The FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round is a five-day, six-team round-robin event being played Aug. 25-29. Team USA faces Poland on Aug. 25 at 1 p.m. (10 p.m. Pacific Time on Aug. 24) in the opening match, then faces Italy on Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. (10 p.m. Pacific Time on Aug. 25). On the middle day of competition, the Americans challenge two-time defending champion Brazil at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 27 (12:30 a.m. Pacific Time) before playing host China on Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. Pacific Time).

The FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round schedule is a grueling tournament with its five matches in five days. Throw in the three preliminary weekends leading into the Final Round and the long international flights to reach the locations, the Final Round itself can become a test of endurance to perform at peak levels. However, U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) says his squad will be ready.

“It's tough, no question - but we'll battle and we have depth,” McCutcheon said. “So if we do get beat up a little, we have plenty to go to.”

Just two weeks ago, Team USA’s chances of reaching the World Grand Prix Final Round seemed remote based on its 1-2 record and eighth place in the standings following the first weekend in Poland. However, the Americans caught fire in Thailand starting with a four-set victory over Italy followed by wins over Thailand and Puerto Rico.

This past weekend, the U.S. carried the momentum into Hong Kong, beginning with a three-set win over Germany to avenge a four-set loss in the opening weekend. Team USA allowed Thailand to score just 48 points in a three-set win on Aug. 21. In front of over 10,000 fans on Aug. 22, the Americans won their sixth straight match over the host Chinese in four sets to complete a run from eighth place to second place.

“We learned some things in week one that helped us to be better in week two,” McCutcheon said. “Also, with the addition of Logan (Tom), our serve reception smoothed out a bit and that helped our side-out numbers.”

Tom, a three-time Olympian and the Best Scorer at the 2008 Olympic Games, was added to the U.S. roster after the first weekend and the team has yet to lose with her in the lineup.

Brazil, which has won five of the last six World Grand Prix events and eight overall, finished the preliminary round in first place with an 8-1 record and 24 points, followed by the Americans in second place. Poland finished with an identical 7-2 record and 21 points as the United States, but finished third due to a lower point scored ratio. Japan, Italy and China all finished with 6-3 records and 19 points, but Japan held the point ratio advantage to gain fourth place followed by Italy in fifth place and China in sixth place. During the preliminary round, the U.S. defeated Final Round participants China and Italy, while losing to Poland.

However, the Final Round standings table is wiped clean and the six-match U.s. win streak simply represents momentum. All six teams open the Final Round with zero points.

Team USA, which has reached the medal podium in both its earlier tournaments in 2010, has not played in the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round since 2008 when it finished fourth. The Americans, who have won six straight matches in this year’s World Grand Prix, have not reached the World Grand Prix podium since bronze medal finishes in 2003 and 2004. The U.S. won the World Grand Prix in 1995 and 2001, its only other podium finishes.

The U.S. block was a huge weapon during the preliminary round. Over the course of the nine matches, Team USA held a 146-54 block advantage and was never out-blocked in a match (China matched USA with 12 on Aug. 22). The Americans averaged 4.42 blocks per set, compared to their opponents’ 1.64 average. The block machine was not just from one person as three players ranked among the top five blockers and another ranked 12th.

During the preliminary round, the Americans had several players finish high the Best Player categories. Two such players are in their rookie campaigns with the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Opposite Destinee Hooker (San Antonio, Texas), playing in her first international tournament with the U.S. Women’s National Team, ranked third in Best Scorer with 157 points (118 kills, 33 blocks, 6 aces) and 4.76 points per set. She also ranked third in Best Blocker with 1.00 blocks per set and seventh in Best Spiker with a 40.97 kill percent.

Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.), a setter in her first season with the U.S. Women’s National Team, led all setters through the preliminary round with 10.64 running sets per set – 0.90 more per set than the second-place finisher. She also ranked 19th in Best Digger with 1.67 digs per set and 36th in Best Blocker with 0.33 per set, welcome contributions from her setter position.

“Destinee and Alisha are both talented athletes and good volleyball players,” McCutcheon said. “I'm not surprised that they are having such a positive impact. Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) has been great for us this summer as well. There's some good young players on this team.”

Middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) turned in 105 points (69 kills, 32 blocks, 4 aces) during the World Grand Prix preliminary round for 12th best in the tournament. She holds a 51.9 kill percent, which would lead Best Spiker category if she had enough kill attempts to qualify. Akinradewo ranks fourth in Best Blocker with a 0.97 block average.

Middle blocker Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) has contributed 96 points (60 kills, 30 blocks, 6 aces) for 18th best during the preliminary round. She has added 0.91 blocks per set for fifth place in the preliminary round.

Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.) is ranked 19th in scoring with 92 points (65 kills, 21 blocks, 6 aces), 24th in Best Spiker with a 32.34 kill percent, 12th in Best Blocker with 0.64 blocks per set, 13th in Best Digger with 2.06 digs per set and sixth in Best Receiver with a 43.22 receiving percent.

Outside hitter Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah), who missed the first three matches of the preliminary round, compiled 67 points (52 kills, 8 blocks, 7 aces) for 42nd in scoring in just six matches.

The U.S. liberos Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) and Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) shared the defensive position during the preliminary round, which held back the overall position ranking for both. Davis ranked sixth in Best Digger with 2.52 digs per set over the nine matches, while Sykora averaged 2.06 digs per set for 12th place. If combined for one position, the U.S. libero would have led the World Grand Prix in Best Digger (tops was 3.76 digs per set).

For the latest news on the FIVB World Grand Prix, visit the U.S. Women’s National Team FIVB World Grand Prix event web site at usavolleyball.org/events/3056. The page includes archived press releases, schedule and results involving all 12 World Grand Prix teams, photos, statistics and match videos by Universal Sports.

Volleyball fans across the world will be able to watch three FIVB World Grand prix matches a week as FIVB TV announced on Aug. 5 that it will stream matches on the Internet. One match per day from the three preliminary rounds as well as all matches form the Final Round will be streamed live on www.laola1.tv/en/int/fivb/video/203---.html. The USA-Italy match on Aug. 13 and the USA-China contest on Aug. 22 were part of the coverage. As a note, the FIVB TV matches cannot be viewed in most locations within the United States based on negotiated broadcast rights.

Fans in the United States can watch all remaining USA matches on Universal Sports (www.universalsports.com), on a tape delayed same-day coverage. Selected matches will also be shown on Universal’s television channel. All matches will be on-demand after they take place. To find out if Universal is in your home area and its daily schedule, click here.

For more information on the U.S. Women's National Team, visit its home page clicking here.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB World Grand Prix Pool G (Hong Kong)
# - Name (Pos, Ht, Hometown, College)
1 - Ogonna Nnamani (OPP, 6-1, Bloomington, Ill., Stanford)
2 - Alisha Glass (S, 6-0, Leland, Mich., Penn State)
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)
11 - Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., Nebraska)
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/Ningbo: Laurel Iversen (Kalaheo, Hawaii)

FIVB World Grand Prix Final Preliminary Standings
Brazil (24 Points) 8-1
USA (21 Points) 7-2
Poland (21 Points) 7-2
Japan (19 Points) 6-3
Italy (19 Points) 6-3
China (19 Points) 6-3
Netherlands (13 Points) 5-4
Dominican Republic (7 Points) 3-6
Germany (7 Points) 2-7
Thailand (6 Points) 2-7
Puerto Rico (4 Points) 1-8
Chinese Taipei (2 Points) 1-8
NOTE: Matches won 3-0 or 3-1 earn the winners 3 points; Matches won 3-2 earn the winner 2 points and the loser 1 point

2010 FIVB World Grand Prix Schedule

Pool A (Sao Carlos, Brazil * Ginasio Nilton Olaio Filho)
Aug. 6: Brazil def. Chinese Taipei 25-15, 25-19, 25-12
Aug. 6: Japan def. Italy 30-28, 27-29, 25-20, 25-13
Aug. 7: Brazil def. Japan 25-20, 25-19, 25-20
Aug. 7: Italy def. Chinese Taipei 25-15, 25-20, 25-19
Aug. 8: Italy def. Brazil 25-22, 25-21, 18-25, 25-19
Aug. 8: Japan def. Chinese Taipei 25-16, 25-16, 25-16

Pool B (Gdynia, Poland * Gdynia Competition Hall)
Aug. 6: USA def. Dominican Republic 26-24, 22-25, 25-14, 25-19
Aug. 6: Poland def. Germany 25-18, 16-25, 25-22, 26-24
Aug. 7: Poland def. Dominican Republic 25-23, 25-16, 25-14
Aug. 7: Germany def. USA 25-23, 25-22, 16-25, 25-23
Aug. 8: Poland def. USA 16-25, 26-24, 25-19, 25-23
Aug. 8: Dominican Republic def. Germany 25-19, 22-25, 31-29, 16-15, 19-17

Pool C (Chengdu, China * Sichuan Provincial Sports Bureau)
Aug. 6: Netherlands def. Thailand 25-22, 25-22, 25-23
Aug. 6: China def. Puerto Rico 25-20, 25-18, 25-22
Aug. 7: Netherlands def. Puerto Rico 25-9, 25-12, 25-21
Aug. 7: China def. Thailand 25-16, 25-16, 25-22
Aug. 8: China def. Netherlands 19-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-21
Aug. 8: Puerto Rico def. Thailand 25-22, 25-23, 25-21

Pool D (Bangkok, Thailand * Keelawes 2)
Aug. 13: USA def. Italy 26-28, 26-24, 25-23, 25-15
Aug. 13: Thailand def. Puerto Rico 25-16, 25-19, 25-16
Aug. 14: Italy def. Puerto Rico 25-12, 25-17, 25-18
Aug. 14: USA def. Thailand 25-18, 25-21, 25-13
Aug. 15: USA def. Puerto Rico 21-25, 25-22, 25-12, 25-15
Aug. 15: Italy def. Thailand 21-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-20

Pool E (Macau, China * Forum de Macau)
Aug. 13: Brazil def. Dominican Republic 25-14, 25-18, 25-14
Aug. 13: China def. Netherlands 25-16, 25-19, 25-16
Aug. 14: Brazil def. Netherlands 25-21, 21-25, 25-15, 26-24
Aug. 14: Dominican Republic def. China 25-20, 20-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-9
Aug. 16: Netherlands def. Dominican Republic 25-23, 25-20, 17-25, 23-25, 15-7
Aug. 16: Brazil def. China 25-12, 25-19, 25-19

Pool F (Okayama, Japan * Okayama Momotaro Arena)
Aug. 13: Poland def. Chinese Taipei 25-16, 25-19, 25-15
Aug. 13: Japan def. Germany 26-28, 25-17, 25-20, 25-11
Aug. 14: Germany def. Chinese Taipei 25-19, 25-14, 25-19
Aug. 14: Japan def. Poland 25-19, 25-21, 19-25, 25-16
Aug. 15: Poland def. Germany 25-23, 25-23, 29-31, 25-20
Aug. 15: Japan def. Chinese Taipei 28-26, 25-15, 25-11

Pool G (Hong Kong, China * Hong Kong Coliseum)
Aug. 20: USA def. Germany 25-15, 25-18, 25-13
Aug. 20: China def. Thailand 16-25, 27-25, 25-23, 25-15
Aug. 21: USA def. Thailand 25-16, 25-16, 25-16
Aug. 21: China def. Germany 25-14, 25-19, 28-26
Aug. 22: Thailand def. Germany 20-25, 25-16, 25-16, 25-22
Aug. 22: USA def China 25-20, 25-10, 22-25, 25-22

Pool H (Taipei, Chinese Taipei * Taiwan University Gym)
Aug. 20: Brazil def. Puerto Rico 25-18, 25-13, 25-20
Aug. 20: Poland def. Chinese Taipei 25-19, 25-18, 25-9
Aug. 21: Poland def. Puerto Rico 25-20, 25-20, 25-14
Aug. 21: Brazil def. Chinese Taipei 25-15, 25-17, 25-16
Aug. 22: Brazil def. Poland 25-16, 27-25, 25-16
Aug. 22: Chinese Taipei def. Puerto Rico 27-29, 25-21, 18-25, 25-23, 17-15

Pool I (Tokyo, Japan * Yoyogi National Stadium)
Aug. 20: Italy def. Netherlands 29-27, 25-16, 25-15
Aug. 20: Japan def. Dominican Republic 25-15, 23-25, 31-29, 25-20
Aug. 21: Netherlands def. Dominican Republic 25-19, 25-22, 25-20
Aug. 21: Italy def. Japan 25-23, 27-25, 21-25, 25-23
Aug. 22: Dominican Republic def. Italy 23-25, 32-30, 25-22, 22-25, 15-13
Aug. 22: Netherlands def. Japan 25-19, 22-25, 38-36, 16-25, 15-11

Final Round (Ningbo, China * Ningbo Beilun Gymnasium)
Aug. 25: USA vs. Poland, 1 p.m. (10 p.m. Pacific Time on Aug. 24)
Aug. 25: Brazil vs. Japan, 3:30 p.m. (12:30 a.m. Pacific Time)
Aug. 25: China vs. Italy, 7:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. Pacific Time)
Aug. 26: USA vs. Italy, 1 p.m. (10 p.m. Pacific Time on Aug. 25)
Aug. 26: Poland vs. Brazil, 3:30 p.m., 12:30 a.m. Pacific Time)
Aug. 26: China vs. Japan, 7:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. Pacific Time)
Aug. 27: Japan vs. Italy, 1 p.m. (10 p.m. Pacific Time on Aug. 26)
Aug. 27: Brazil vs. USA, 3:30 p.m. (12:30 a.m. Pacific Time)
Aug. 27: China vs. Poland, 7:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. Pacific Time)
Aug. 28: Poland vs. Japan, 1 p.m. (10 p.m. Pacific Time on Aug. 27)
Aug. 28: Brazil vs. Italy, 3:30 p.m. (12:30 a.m. Pacific Time)
Aug. 28: China vs. USA, 7:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. Pacific Time)
Aug. 29: Japan vs. USA, 1 p.m. (10 p.m. Pacific Time on Aug. 28)
Aug. 29: Italy vs. Poland, 3:30 p.m. (12:30 a.m. Pacific Time)
Aug. 29: China vs. Brazil, 7:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. Pacific Time)