Associate Director, Communications
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 7, 2011) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, ranked second in the world by the FIVB, enters the 2011 NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship being held Sept. 12-17 in Caguas, Puerto Rico, with an expanded – yet guarded – level of confidence after two solid years of success following a disappointing finish in the 2009 NORCECA Continental Championship.
Just last month Team USA captured the FIVB World Grand Prix – the premier annual international volleyball tournament for women – for the second consecutive year.
“We made some significant improvement over the course of the World Grand Prix,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said. “Obviously it was nice to win, but the goal was to improve as a team – and we achieved that.”
The U.S. Women will need that same level of confidence and learning experience as the NORCECA Continental Championship serves as a qualifier into the FIVB World Cup, which serves as the first 2012 Olympic Games qualifying event. Only the top two teams from the NORCECA Championship earn tickets to the FIVB World Cup, unless a third team is selected with one of two available wild card spots.
“I think each event is mutually exclusive,” McCutcheon said in reference to comparing the FIVB World Grand Prix and the upcoming NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship. “But I do think our athletes have earned the right to stand out there against anyone in the world and feel like they can win. It doesn't mean that they will, but I think they now know they can compete with anyone.”
McCutcheon has selected as part of his 19-player preliminary roster 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 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).
All 19 players on the NORCECA preliminary roster were part of the 20-player FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary roster.
The U.S. Women have been placed in the three-team Pool B of the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship. Team USA receives a bye on Sept. 12 before facing Canada on Sept. 13 at 8 p.m. Puerto Rico Time (5 p.m. Pacific Time) and Trinidad & Tobago on Sept. 14 at 4 p.m. Puerto Rico Time (1 p.m. Pacific Time). Should the U.S. finish as one of the top two first-place teams in the three pools, it will bypass the quarterfinal round on Sept. 15 and advance directly to the semifinal on round on Sept. 16. The two teams reaching the gold-medal match on Sept. 17 will also receive tickets to the FIVB World Cup along with their NORCECA podium medals.
While the Americans have gained confidence on the court with two successful years netting a 49-20 record since the start of 2010, the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship is a new tournament with an ever-expanding number of teams capable of pulling an upset. Team USA found itself on the outside of the NORCECA gold-medal match for the first time since 1989.
At the last biennial NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship in 2009, the U.S. failed to medal in the event for the first time since 1971. USA and Cuba, the main rivals for the gold medal over the past five decades, had played against each other in 16 of the last 17 finals and both lost in the 2009 NORCECA semifinal matches. The Americans had won the event five times with 11 silver medals during a 22-year period of the biennial event, along with a bronze medal in the first-ever event in 1969. Cuba was the defending champion in the event and had won 13 of the previous 21 NORCECA Championships.
The 2009 NORCECA Championship showcased how much the FIVB zone has improved over the years. Dominican Republic captured the gold medal after earning the bronze medal in five of the previous six tournaments. Puerto Rico earned the silver medal during its first-ever trip to the NORCECA podium. With the improving quality of teams within the NORCECA region, one or two plays can help define a close match result.
“The biggest lesson we learned as a team at the 2009 NORCECA Championship was the power of the little play,” McCutcheon said. “We were in three five-set losses that we could have won had we been able to make one more pass, one more set, serve one more ball in the court - some basic things that we could control. We are much better at reading the game and executing those fundamentals for a longer period of time.”
The U.S. Women’s National Team composition has also changed slightly in the last two years since the 2009 NORCECA Continental Championship, which was one year after the 2008 Olympic Games and some veterans took time off away from the National Team. Only six players (Berg, Davis, Bown, Larson, Metcalf, Harmotto) from the 2009 NORCECA event also stood on the podium last month after winning the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix. Veterans have returned to the team and blended in with the younger athletes who have gained significant amount of international experience during the quadrennial.
“Good teams have balance, they have a variety of ways they can attack and defend an opponent,” McCutcheon continued. “We're starting to develop that.”
After taking all of 2009 and most of 2010 off, Tom returned to the U.S. squad and has been a major stabilizing force. At the two most recent FIVB World Grand Prix, she finished ninth in scoring during the Final Round in 2010 and 2011. She was second in Best Server and 10th in Best Digger in the 2011 event. At the 2010 FIVB World Championship, she was named Best Receiver and ranked 17th in scoring and 13th in digging.
As a newcomer to the squad, Hooker has made an impact over the last two years. She was named the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix most valuable player with 101 points in the Final Round for second-best and 228 points throughout the entire tournament. She finished fourth in Best Spiker in the tournament and 11th in Best Blocker. At last year’s FIVB World Championship, Hooker was the fifth-best scorer with 219 points.
Akinradewo also has turned into an elite international player as she won the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix most valuable player. At this year’s World Grand Prix event she ranked 12th in scoring in the Final Round and was the third in Best Blocker and sixth in Best Server.
Larson gained valuable playing time during the 2009 season and has emerged as a key contributor to the U.S. Women’s National Team. She was 11th in both Best Scorer and Best Spiker in the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round, along with third in Best Server and fifth in Best Receiver.
The youth movement has included several other players who have made impacts over the past two years including Alisha Glass (2010 FIVB World Grand Prix Best Setter), Hodge (four starts at the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix), Harmotto, Fawcett, Spicer and Miyashiro. All have joined the team in the past three years and have provided the depth necessary alongside the veterans that include Berg, Bown, Davis, Kim Glass, Metcalf, Richards and captain Tamas.
For the U.S. Women's National Team event page for the NORCECA Women's Continental Championship, visit usavolleyball.org/events/8347.
U.S. Women’s National Team Preliminary Roster for NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship
# - 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)
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
2011 NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship Schedule
Caguas, Puerto Rico * Sept. 12-17
Times Listed as Puerto Rico Time and Subject to Change
Sept. 12: Puerto Rico vs. Costa Rica, 8 p.m. (Match 3)
Sept. 13: Costa Rica vs. Mexico, 4 p.m. (Match 4)
Sept. 14: Mexico vs. Puerto Rico, 8 p.m. (Match 9)
Sept. 12: Canada vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 5 p.m. (Match 2)
Sept. 13: USA vs. Canada, 8 p.m. (Match 6)
Sept. 14: USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 4 p.m. (Match 7)
Sept. 12: Dominican Republic vs. Panama, 3 p.m. (Match 1)
Sept. 13: Panama vs. Cuba, 6 p.m. (Match 5)
Sept. 14: Cuba vs. Dominican Republic, 6 p.m. (Match 8)
Sept. 15: 3rd HR2 vs. 3rd HR3, 4 p.m. (Match 10)
Sept. 15: 2nd HR1 vs. 2nd HR2 (or 2nd HR3), 6 p.m. (Match 11)
Sept. 15: 1st HR3 vs. 2nd HR3 (or 2nd HR2), 8 p.m. (Match 12)
Final Classification 7-8
Sept. 16: 3rd HR1 vs. Winner of Match 10, 4 p.m. (Match 13)
Sept. 16: 1st HR2 vs. Winner Match 11/12, 6 p.m. (Match 14)
Sept. 16: 1st HR1 vs. Winner Match 12/11, 8 p.m. (Match 15)
Final Classification 5-6
Sept. 17: Loser Match 11 vs. Loser Match 12, 4 p.m. (Match 16)
Sept. 17: Loser Match 14 vs. Loser Match 15, 6 p.m. (Bronze)
Sept. 17: Winner Match 14 vs. Match 15, 8 p.m. (Gold)