Associate Director, Communications
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 23, 2011) – USA Volleyball announced today that the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team has been selected as its Indoor Team of the Year. The category includes senior, junior and club levels for both genders.
The U.S. Women finished the season with a 39-10 record and qualification into the 2012 Olympic Games during the first qualification tournament. In addition, Team USA earned five podium finishes in six tournaments with two gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals.
“We are very honored and grateful to receive this award,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said. “Every day we try to honor and respect the privilege of representing our country, and it's nice to have those efforts recognized.”
Using a mix of experienced and young players, the U.S. Women placed fourth at the Montreux Volley Masters held June 7-12 at Montreux, Switzerland. The Americans opened with a four-set victory over Peru on June 7. After a Montreux off -day exhibition match victory over host nation Switzerland on June 8, the U.S. topped Germany in five sets on June 9. China won a five-set battle over Team USA to win Pool A on June 10. The U.S. dropped a four-set match to NORCECA rival Cuba on June 11 in the semifinal round, then lost a second time to China in a four-set bronze-medal match on June 12.
The U.S. Women claimed the bronze medal at the X Women’s Pan American Cup held July 1-9 at Juarez, Mexico. The Americans, again blending a youth and veterans into the tournament roster, topped Cuba 25-21, 25-16, 25-13 in the bronze-medal match after suffering a four-set loss to Dominican Republic in the semifinal round. The U.S. defeated Peru, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica in straight sets to open Pool B before losing a heart-breaking 28-30, 25-18, 25-19, 17-25, 15-11 match to then-top-ranked Brazil in the final pool match. The U.S. went on to defeat Argentina 25-13, 25-14, 25-19 in the quarterfinal, which secured a berth into the 2012 FIVB World Grand Prix as one of the top four NORCECA teams in the tournament.
Team USA captured the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix, the premier annual international volleyball tournament for women, for the second time in as many years after defeating Brazil 26-24, 25-20, 25-21 in the gold-medal match on Aug. 28, 2011. The Americans finished the preliminary round with an 8-1 record with only a loss to Serbia. In the Final Round pool play, the U.S. defeated Japan and Italy for the second time in the tournament before falling to Brazil as both teams had already guaranteed spots in the semifinal round. The Americans rebounded by defeating Serbia in three sets, setting up the rematch with Brazil in the gold-medal match. Destinee Hooker (San Antonio, Texas) was named the most valuable player of the tournament. During the World Grand Prix, the FIVB announced that she was selected as an FIVB Hero in its international campaign to bring added awareness to the sport.
The U.S. Women’s National Team placed third in the Pan American Games held Oct. 15-20 using a roster with seven players debuting for the U.S. at the senior level. Team USA swept through pool play with victories over Puerto Rico, Peru and Mexico. Cuba, with a team composed of its top players, defeated the young U.S. squad in four sets during the semifinal round. The Americans rebounded to defeat an experienced Dominican Republic squad n the bronze-medal match. Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) was tabbed as the tournament’s Best Blocker.
The U.S. Women fulfilled their number-one goal of the 2011 season by earning qualification into the 2012 Olympic Games through the 2011 FIVB World Cup – the first qualification tournament. Team USA finished with the silver medal at the FIVB World Cup, thus guaranteeing a spot in London as the tournament granted three coveted spots to its podium finishers.
The U.S. started the tournament with tough opening round, including a meeting with then-No. 1 Brazil on the opening day. Team USA followed-up its FIVB World Grand Prix victory over the South Americans with a four-set victory to start the World Cup on a positive note on Nov. 4. On the following day, Team USA topped Serbia, the World Grand Prix bronze medalist, in straight sets to improve to 2-0.
The U.S. ended the first round with a dominating performance over Korea, then continued the momentum to start the second round with an easy 3-0 win over Kenya. However, Germany ended the U.S. win streak with a stunning 3-0 win that included set victories of 32-30 and 26-24 in the first and third sets.
Team USA rebounded in the third round with straight-set wins over Argentina, Algeria and NORCECA rival Dominican Republic. The U.S. ended the third round with a 7-1 record and 21 points, trailing tournament leader Italy by just two points in the standings.
The U.S. opened the fourth round in Tokyo with two sets – 25-21 and 31-29 – over China, which recovered to force a deciding fifth set. During the tiebreaker, Hooker scored three points in a 4-0 run to break a 7-all tie to forge the U.S. to a 15-10 victory. In the process, Hooker scored a personal-high 37 points (unofficial DataVolley stats credited her with 39 points).
On the second to last day of the World Cup, second-place U.S. met tournament-leader Italy. A Team USA victory would guarantee it a 2012 Olympic Games spot, along with a chance to win the World Cup gold medal. The U.S. opened the match with a hard-fought 25-23 victory after scoring five of the final seven points, followed by an easy 25-15 victory to go up 2-0 in sets. Italy battled back in the third set with a 25-22 victory. In the fourth set, the U.S. recovered from a 13-11 deficit by securing a 6-0 scoring run with three blocks and two aces to take a 17-13 lead. After Italy closed to 20-19, Team USA scored five of the final seven points of the match to take a 25-21 victory and one of the three Olympic Games tickets awarded through the World Cup.
Needing a 3-0 or 3-1 victory over Japan to secure its first-ever World Cup gold medal, the U.S. could not quite come away with the needed victories over the host country on the final day. Japan edged the U.S. 29-27 in the first set in which the Americans led 23-21 and had four set points. The U.S. saved three set points in the second set before Japan earned a hard-fought 25-23 victory. With the title out of reach for Team USA, Japan claimed the third set 25-18.
Hooker was awarded the Best Spiker award during the FIVB World Cup with a 49.53 kill percent.