Akinradewo, Glass Earn World Grand Prix Honors

Aug. 29, 2010, 8:03 p.m. (ET)

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

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 29, 2010) – U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) was named the Most Valuable Player and Best Blocker at the 18th FIVB World Grand Prix, while teammate Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) earned Best Setter for the event that took place Aug. 25-29 at Ningbo, China.

The U.S. Women’s National Team, ranked fourth in the world by the FIVB, captured the 18th FIVB World Grand Prix title with a 5-0 record in the Final Round following its sweep of Japan on Aug. 29. Earlier, the U.S. defeated Poland, Italy, Brazil and China in the Final Round. The FIVB World Grand Prix is the premier annual international women’s volleyball event. After three weekends and nine matches during the preliminary round, the top five teams plus tournament host advance to the five-day round robin Final Round.

FIVB Courtesy of FIVB The U.S. Women's National Team members on the World Grand Prix podium with gold medal around their necks. The Americans, who have won 11 matches in a row, also won the World Grand Prix in 1995 and 2001. Until this year, Team USA had not reached the tournament’s medal podium since back-to-back bronze finishes in 2003 and 2004. The U.S. has now medaled in all three of its 2010 tournaments including a silver medal at the 26th Montreux Volley Masters and bronze at the Pan American Cup, both played in June.

U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) believes the FIVB World Grand Prix title and the team’s early successes in 2010 are a key part of the developmental process leading toward the FIVB World Championship and future tournaments. However, he understands the team has areas of improvement before heading into the World Championship.

“I think it helps a little in that we now know we can compete with confidence versus any team in the world,” McCutcheon said in regards to winning the FIVB World Grand Prix. “However, we have a lot of work to do before the FIVB World Championship tournament as well. So we won't let winning get in the way of the lessons we need to learn.”

During the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round, Akinradewo averaged 1.47 blocks per set with 28 blocks to earn the Best Blocker Award. She out-distanced the second-best blocker by 0.57 blocks per set. Akinradewo added 49 kills and three aces for a total of 80 points in the Final Round, good for second-best in the tournament leading to her Most Valuable Player award. She converted 49 of her 91 offensive attacks into points for a53.8 kill percent, which would have ranked atop the Best Spiker list if she had qualified with the minimum 15 percent of the team’s spikes.

“I feel truly blessed and honored to have been selected for such prestigious awards,” Akinradewo said. “Obviously, none of this, including winning the World Grand Prix, could have been accomplished without the hard work and dedication of the coaching staff and my teammates. I am extremely proud of my team's perseverance in the face of defeat early in the tournament. This is just a reflection of how we grew together and learned as a team. We started shaky, but we steadily improved and we leave the World Grand Prix feeling a sense of accomplishment.”

"Foluke had a great tournament," McCutcheon said. "She was very strong at the net - both in block and attack, and she was good from the service line as well.

FIVB Courtesy of FIVB Alisha Glass presented with the FIVB World Grand Prix Best Setter award. Glass, playing her first season of international volleyball with the U.S. Women’s National Team, averaged 13.11 running sets per set to lead all players in the Final Round. She tallied 249 running sets on 516 attempts. Glass set the squad to a .292 hitting efficiency (250-55-668) and 37.4 kill percent through the five Final Round matches in China.

Akinradewo and Glass were not the only Americans producing well at the World Grand Prix. Destinee Hooker (San Antonio, Texas) finished the Final Round as the fourth-best scorer with 76 points (65 kills, 8 blocks, 3 aces) and Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) contributed 66 points (54 kills, 9 blocks, 3 aces) for ninth place. Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) ranked 15th in scoring with 52 points (35 kills, 12 blocks, 5 aces) and Jordan Larson Hooper, Neb.) charted 47 points (34 kills, 10 blocks, 3 aces) for 18th place.

Team USA established a dominant block during the entire tournament. During the Final Round, the U.S. held a 76-34 block advantage over its opponents and averaged 4.0 blocks per set. Including the nine matches from the preliminary round, the Americans out-blocked their opponents 222-84 and averaged 4.27 blocks per set. Aside from Akinradewo leading the tournament in blocking, the U.S. had seven players rank among the top 20 in the Final Round. Bown ranked ninth (0.63 block average), Larson finished 11th (0.53), Tom was 15th (0.47), Hooker landed in 18th (0.42) and Glass ranked 20th (0.37).

The Americans also took their spots among the tournament’s best diggers with four among the top 13. Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) averaged 2.26 digs per set for third place, while Tom ranked seventh with 1.47 per set. Larson tallied 1.11 digs per set for 10th place and Hooker added 0.95 digs per set for 13th place.

Tom, who joined the team during the second preliminary round, ranked fifth in Best Receiver during the Final Round with a 43.26 efficiency. Bown was Team USA’s leading server with 0.26 aces per set for seventh place. Hooker ranked as the seventh-best player in Best Spiker with a 38.7 kill percent, while Tom and Larson ranked 15th and 16th, respectively in the category.

Behind Team USA at the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round, Brazil claimed the silver medal with a 3-2 record and 11 points. Brazil was the two-time defending champion with eight overall World Grand Prix titles. Italy earned the bronze medal with a 2-3 record and seven points. Host China finished fourth with six points and a 2-3 record, followed by fifth-place Japan with four points and a 2-3 record and sixth-place Poland with a 1-4 record and four points.

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 preliminary 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. 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 to conclude the preliminary round.

“We got better as the tournament went on,” McCutcheon said.

Other post-tournament honors went to Japan’s Saori Kimura (Best Scorer), Brazil’s Jaqueline Carvalho (Best Spiker) and China’s Wang Yimei (Best Server) and Zhang Xian (Best Libero).

Team USA’s next event will be a friendly four-match exhibition tour of Brazil between Sept. 20 and Sept. 30. Both teams are using the tour as final preparations for the FIVB World Championship that starts Oct. 29 in Japan.

For complete FIVB World Grand Prix coverage, visit usavolleyball.org/events/3056.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round
# - 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 Round Standings
USA 5-0 (13 points)
Brazil 3-2 (11 points)
Italy 2-3 (7 points)
China 2-3 (6 points)
Japan 2-3 (4 points)
Poland 1-4 (4 points)

Final Round (Ningbo, China * Ningbo Beilun Gymnasium)
Aug. 25: USA def. Poland 13-25, 18-25, 28-26, 25-19, 15-12
Aug. 25: Japan def. Brazil 13-25, 25-23, 18-25, 25-22, 15-13
Aug. 25: Italy def. China 25-20, 25-16, 25-21
Aug. 26: USA def. Italy 25-23, 25-20, 25-14
Aug. 26: Brazil def. Poland 25-21, 23-25, 25-20, 25-17
Aug. 26: China def. Japan 29-27, 23-25, 25-20, 25-19
Aug. 27: Japan def. Italy 23-25, 25-14, 26-28, 25-20, 17-15
Aug. 27: USA def. Brazil 22-25, 25-19, 30-28, 17-25, 15-13
Aug. 27: China def. Poland 25-19, 25-19, 25-17
Aug. 28: Poland def. Japan 25-15, 21-25, 25-23, 25-22
Aug. 28: Brazil def. Italy 25-18, 25-13, 25-16
Aug. 28: USA def. China 25-21, 27-25, 25-22
Aug. 29: USA def. Japan 26-24, 25-20, 25-23
Aug. 29: Italy def. Poland 23-25, 25-15, 25-23, 25-17
Aug. 29: Brazil def. China 25-12, 25-16, 25-15