Repeating at World Grand Prix Not a Small Task

July 25, 2011, 1:07 p.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman
Associate Director, Communications
Phone: 719-228-6800

U.S. Women's National Team Press Kit for FIVB World Grand Prix

USA Volleyball Event Page for FIVB World Grand Prix

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 25, 2011) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, ranked second in the world, will look to defend its 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix gold medal during August 2011, but that will be no small task.

The U.S. used an 11-match win streak to capture gold at the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix, the premier annual international volleyball tournament now in its 19th year since its debut in 1993. The Team USA gold medal was its third in the event, but first in nine years. Before last year’s performance, the Americans had not reached the World Grand Prix podium since 2004.

“The World Grand Prix is a very challenging event,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said. “You have to play a lot of good volleyball to be successful, and when you add the travel and a bunch of strong opponents as well, it all makes for a really tough tournament.”

The FIVB World Grand Prix has increased from 12 to 16 of the best teams in the world for 2011. The event has three consecutive weekends of preliminary round pool play divided into four 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 seven teams in the standings joining China as host country into the World Grand Prix Final Round. Teams earn three points for a 3-0 or 3-1 victory, two points for a 3-2 victory and one point for a 3-2 loss.

McCutcheon feels the tournament expansion is good for the game, but will not necessarily affect how the team prepares.

“Obviously there are more opponents that we need to be ready for,” McCutcheon said. “However, the format essentially hasn't changed. Each preliminary weekend has three matches per weekend, then five matches in the Final Round - but with a different format (pool play before crossover semifinals and medal matches versus five days of round-robin). As far as the expansion of the number of teams, I think anytime you can add more countries to an event of this caliber, it's positive for the sport.”

For the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix edition, McCutcheon has selected an experienced preliminary roster mixed in with some young athletes who are budding stars on the international stage. The 20-player preliminary roster includes middle blockers Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.), Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.), Christa Harmotto (Hopewell, Pa.), Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) and Jennifer Tamas (Milpitas, Calif.). Outside hitters in the mix for the final roster are Angie Forsett (Lake Mary, Fla.), Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.), Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.), Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.), Kristin Richards (Orem, Utah) and Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah).

Setters named to the preliminary roster are Lindsey Berg (Honolulu), Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) and Nellie Spicer (Barrington, Ill.). Opposites on the preliminary squad are Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio), Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.), Destinee Hooker (San Antonio, Texas) and Nancy Metcalf (Hull, Iowa). Liberos on the roster are Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) and Tamari Miyashiro (Kaneohe, Hawaii).

Nine of the 20 players on the FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary roster have Olympic Games experience, while 13 of 20 have played in the FIVB World Championships. Scott-Arruda is a four-time Olympian attempting to become the first American volleyball player to compete in five Olympics. Tom and Bown have played in three Olympic Games.

The Americans have won the World Grand Prix in 1995, 2001 and 2010, along with consecutive bronze-medal finishes in 2003 and 2004. Akinradewo was named the most valuable player and Best Blocker in last year’s edition, while Alisha Glass was selected as Best Setter in her first senior-level FIVB-organized event of her career.

The U.S. Women’s National Team opens the three-weekend preliminary round phase at Luohe, China. In Pool D, the Americans face ninth-ranked Serbia on Aug. 5 at 4 p.m. (1 a.m. PT), No. 19 Kazakhstan on Aug. 6 at 4 p.m. (1 a.m. PT) and No. 6 China on Aug. 7 at 7:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. PT).

Team USA travels to Komaki, Japan, for the second preliminary round weekend. The U.S. opens Pool H against No. 13 Dominican Republic on Aug. 12 at 3 p.m. (11 p.m. PT on Aug. 11), followed by No. 3 Japan on Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. (2 a.m. PT) and a rematch with No. 9 Serbia on Aug. 14 at 3 p.m. (11 p.m. PT on Aug. 13).

The Americans conclude the preliminary round in Hong Kong, which will be hosting two pools under the Hong Kong Coliseum roof at the same time. The U.S. faces No. 10 Germany on Aug. 19 at 3 p.m. (midnight PT), followed by No. 4 Italy on Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. (4 a.m. PT) and No. 15 Peru on Aug. 21 at 11 a.m. (10 p.m. PT on Aug. 20).

“There are a lot of challenges in playing the World Grand Prix,” McCutcheon said. “Sometimes the challenges are the travel, sometimes it is the pools you are in. There are a lot of different factors you have to watch out for. Certainly we try to prepare for as many eventualities as we can so we can put ourselves in the best possible position to be successful.”

For the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix, the travel and frequent flier miles logged will not be as huge an issue as in the past. All three preliminary weekend pools the Americans have been placed into are in Asia, along with the Final Round. In contrast, the 2010 U.S. team traveled from Poland to Thailand to Hong Kong to China and went on to win the World Grand Prix. In 2009, the miles stacked up with weekends in Brazil, Chinese Taipei and Thailand. In 2008 right before the Olympic Games, Team USA went from Japan to Poland to Chinese Taipei and back to Japan.

“This year’s travel schedule is a little different from those past," McCutcheon said. “The prospect of not really having to deal with the jet lag repeatedly weekend to weekend will be interesting. Hopefully it will be a positive for us.”

The 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round will have eight teams divided into two groups playing a round-robin schedule Aug. 24-26. The top two teams in each pool advance to crossover semifinals on Aug. 27 with the medal matches played on Aug. 28. The Final Round winner receives $200,000, while each preliminary weekend winner receives $35,000.

The U.S. Women’s National Team will face three teams ranked among the top six in the world (No. 3 Japan, No. 4 Italy and No. 6 China), along with three other matches against top 10 teams (twice against No. 9 Peru and No. 10 Germany). Team USA’s nine FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary round matches result in an average world ranking of 9.78.

Following the FIVB World Grand Prix, the Americans will compete in the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship (Sept. 10-18), the Pan American Games (Oct. 14-20) and the FIVB World Cup (Nov. 4-18) should they qualify through the NORCECA Continental Championship. In January 2012, the U.S. will compete in the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament (Jan. 6-14) if it does not secure one of the three 2012 Olympic Games qualifying spots at the FIVB World Cup.

“The goal for this year, obviously, is Olympic qualification,” McCutcheon said. “To that end, we hope that by the end of the World Grand Prix, our team is playing and competing at a high level - and we want to carry that momentum through to this year’s NORCECA Continental Championship.”

Team USA has already competed in two tournaments this year, finishing with a fourth-place finish at the Montreux Volley Masters (June 7-12 at Montreux, Switzerland) and the bronze medal at the Pan American Cup (July 1-9 at Juarez, Mexico). During the Pan American Cup, the U.S. defeated NORCECA rival Cuba in three sets during the bronze-medal match. The Americans also stretched Brazil, the eventual gold-medalist of the tournament, to five sets on the final day of pool play.

FIVB Event Web Page for 2011 World Grand Prix

U.S. Women’s National Team Preliminary Roster for FIVB World Grand Prix
# - Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1 – Kristin Richards (OH, 6-1, Orem, Utah, Stanford)
2 – Danielle Scott-Arruda (MB, 6-2, Baton Rouge, La., Long Beach State)
3 - Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Opp, 6-7, Laguna Hills, Calif., Long Beach State)
4 – Lindsey Berg (S, 5-8, Honolulu, Hawaii, Minnesota)
5 - Tamari Miyashiro (L, 5-7, Kaneohe, Hawaii, Washington)
6 - Nicole Davis (L, 5-4, Stockton, Calif., Southern California)
7 - Heather Bown (MB, 6-3, Yorba Linda, Calif., Hawaii)
8 - Alisha Glass (S, 6-0, Leland, Mich., Penn State)
9 - Jennifer Tamas (MB, 6-4, Milpitas, Calif., Pacific)
10 - Kim Glass (OH, 6-2, Lancaster, Pa., Arizona)
11 - Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., Nebraska)
12 - Nancy Metcalf (Opp, 6-1, Hull, Iowa, Nebraska)
13 - Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, Hopewell, Pa., Penn State)
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 - Mary ‘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)
20 - Angie Forsett (OH, 5-8, Lake Mary, Fla., California)

Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Assistant Coach: Karch Kiraly (San Clemente, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Paula Weishoff (Irvine, Calif.)
Assistant Coach/Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison (Dana Point, Calif.)
Athletic Trainer/Medical Support: Jill Wosmek (Silver Lake, Minn.)
Team Manager: Ken Sullivan

Pool A at Bydgoszsz, Poland (Luczinczka Hall)
Aug. 5: Poland vs. Argentina, 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 5: Italy vs. Dominican Republic, 7 p.m.
Aug. 6: Poland vs. Dominican Republic, 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 6: Italy vs. Argentina, 6 p.m.
Aug. 7: Poland vs. Italy, 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 7: Dominican Republic vs. Argentina, 6 p.m.

Pool B at Nakhonpathom, Thailand (Nakhonpathom Gym)
Aug. 5: Russia vs. Cuba, 3 p.m.
Aug. 5: Thailand vs. Peru, 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 6: Peru vs. Russia, 3 p.m.
Aug. 6: Cuba vs. Thailand, 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 7: Peru vs. Cuba, 3 p.m.
Aug. 7: Russia vs. Thailand, 5:30 p.m.

Pool C at Busan, Korea (Sajik Indoor Gymnasium)
Aug. 5: Brazil vs. Japan, 2 p.m.
Aug. 5: Korea vs. Germany, 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 6: Korea vs. Japan, 2 p.m.
Aug. 6: Brazil vs. Germany, 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 7: Korea vs. Brazil, 2 p.m.
Aug. 7: Japan vs. Germany, 4:30 p.m.

Pool D at Luohe, China (Luohe Sports Center)
Aug. 5: USA vs. Serbia, 4 p.m.
Aug. 5: China vs. Kazakhstan, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 6: USA vs. Kazakhstan, 4 p.m.
Aug. 6: China vs. Serbia, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 7: Serbia vs. Kazahkstan, 4 p.m.
Aug. 7: USA vs. China, 7:30 p.m.

Pool E at Zielona Gora, Poland (Sortowo Widowiskowa Hall)
Aug. 12: Poland vs. Argentina, 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 12: Cuba vs. Korea, 7 p.m.
Aug. 13: Poland vs. Korea, 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 13: Cuba vs. Argentina, 6 p.m.
Aug. 14: Poland vs. Cuba, 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 14: Korea vs. Argentina, 6 p.m.

Pool F at Almaty Kazakhstan (Baluan Sholak Sports Palace)
Aug. 12: Kazakhstan vs. Italy, 3:15 p.m.
Aug. 12: Thailand vs. Brazil, 6 p.m.
Aug. 13: Brazil vs. Kazakhstan, 3:15 p.m.
Aug. 13: Italy vs. Thailand, 6 p.m.
Aug. 14: Kazakhstan vs. Thailand, 3:15 p.m.
Aug. 14: Italy vs. Brazil, 6 p.m.

Pool G at Quanzhou, China (Straits Sports Center Quanzhou)
Aug. 12: Germany vs. Russia, 4 p.m.
Aug. 12: China vs. Peru, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 13: Peru vs. Russia, 4 p.m.
Aug. 13: China vs. Germany, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 14: Peru vs. Germany, 4 p.m.
Aug. 14: China vs. Russia, 7:30 p.m.

Pool H at Komaki, Japan (Park Arena Komaki)
Aug. 12: USA vs. Dominican Republic, 3 p.m.
Aug. 12: Japan vs. Serbia, 6 p.m.
Aug. 13: Serbia vs. Dominican Republic, 3 p.m.
Aug. 13: USA vs. Japan, 6 p.m.
Aug. 14: Japan vs. Dominican Republic, 1 p.m.
Aug. 15: USA vs. Serbia, 3 p.m.

Pool I at Hong Kong (Hong Kong Coliseum)
Aug. 19: Kazakhstan vs. Poland, 7 p.m.
Aug. 19: China vs. Dominican Republic, 9:30 p.m.
Aug. 20: Dominican Republic vs. Poland, 3 p.m.
Aug. 20: China vs. Kazakhstan, 9:30 p.m.
Aug. 21: Dominican Republic vs. Kazakhstan, 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 21: China vs. Poland, 8 p.m.

Pool J at Hong Kong (Hong Kong Coliseum)
Aug. 19: Italy vs. Peru, 1 p.m.
Aug. 19: USA vs. Germany, 3 p.m.
Aug. 20: Germany vs. Peru, 1 p.m.
Aug. 20: USA vs. Italy, 7 p.m.
Aug. 21: USA vs. Peru, 11 a.m.
Aug. 21: Germany vs. Italy, 1 p.m.

Pool K at Bangkok, Thailand (Keelawes 1)
Aug. 19: Cuba vs. Brazil, 2 p.m.
Aug. 19: Thailand vs. Argentina, 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 20: Brazil vs. Argentina, 2 p.m.
Aug. 20: Cuba vs. Thailand, 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 21: Argentina vs. Cuba, 3 p.m.
Aug. 21: Brazil vs. Thailand, 5:30 p.m.

Pool L at Tokyo, Japan (Ariake Coliseum)
Aug. 19: Russia vs. Korea, 3 p.m.
Aug. 19: Japan vs. Serbia, 6 p.m.
Aug. 20: Russia vs. Serbia, 3 p.m.
Aug. 20: Japan vs. Korea, 6 p.m.
Aug. 21: Serbia vs. Korea, 3 p.m.
Aug. 21: Japan vs. Russia, 6 p.m.