U.S. Women Looking to Write New Chapter

By Bill Kauffman | July 25, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman
USA Volleyball Communications
Phone: 719-228-6800
Email: bill.kauffman@usav.org

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LONDON (July 25, 2012) – The U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team is set on writing a new chapter in its history book, but it will not sit back on being ranked No. 1 in the world heading into the 2012 London Games.

“We are very happy to be here,” U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said. “We feel like our preparation has been pretty solid and certainly hope that our best volleyball is yet to come. I don’t think we have peaked yet, but we certainly are aiming to do so in the next two weeks.”

Like McCutcheon, Lindsey Berg (Honolulu), captain of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, says she and her teammates look forward to the challenges that await in London in reaching not only the team’s fullest potential, but its dreams of a first-ever Olympic gold medal.

“We are thrilled to be finally in London and going for the gold, which we have been talking about all quad,” Berg said. “We have had a great run the last two years. We are ready to finally, hopefully, reach our potential and play our highest level of volleyball here in London. We have a team made up of some veterans and some young players. It is an incredible group with a lot of roles and very deep. We are really excited to be here and go for the gold and achieve the dreams.”

The U.S. opens competition on July 28 against Korea in a Pool B match at Earls Court before a compelling match against No. 2 and 2008 Olympic Games gold-medalist Brazil on July 30. On the middle day of the preliminary round, Team USA faces 2008 Olympic Games bronze medalist China on Aug. 1 before an Aug. 3 contest against Serbia. To wrap up pool play, the Americans take on Turkey at Aug. 5.

The quarterfinal round occurs on Aug. 7 with the top four teams from each pool advancing. Semifinal matches take place on Aug. 9, followed by the medal-round matches on Aug. 11.

McCutcheon feels that Pool B offers all the challenges a team could ask for in reaching their gold-medal dream.

“If you look at our pool, we start with Korea, who is really come on the last couple years,” McCutcheon said. “They have a couple players who are absolutely world class at their position. Then we go on to Brazil, and that is always a battle. Then you have China, who again is somewhat resurgent in the last two years. Following China we have Serbia, the bronze medalist at last year’s World Grand Prix and European champion. We close out with Turkey, who qualified by being pretty dominant at their Olympic qualifier. So, for us, it is tough to get out of this pool. All of sudden, then you are looking at Italy, Russia and Japan and a lot of other teams on the other side who can cause some problems.

“No question it is going to be a challenging tournament for us, and for every team,” McCutcheon said. “There are no gimmes. In some ways I like that. We are a good team, but we are one of many good teams in the world. I do believe day-in and day-out we play at a consistently high level. Will that be enough to beat some of these teams on their best day? I don’t know.”

With so many teams capable of blocking its gold-medal dream, McCutcheon likes how the team has stepped up to the challenges ahead.

“I like that our team is aspiring to be the best it can be with the hopes of the gold medal,” McCutcheon said. “I think that is why you should be here. Why come if you want to come in fifth. That doesn’t make any sense to us. But that doesn’t mean that we will do it. And we are certainly not under any illusion that just because we have this ranking that all of sudden it will come pretty easy. We know it will be a battle. We know there are a lot of good teams here, but we are not going to back down. I don’t know who is going to win it, I certainly hope we do. But if we don’t, I know we have done everything we could over the last four years to be ready for this moment. Ultimately, it will come down to one or two plays, maybe some luck, maybe someone being healthy or unhealthy.”

While the team has been in London since Saturday, the squad has taken a business-like approach to obtaining its top goal.

“We are here to win gold and concentrating on that,” Berg said. “We do have some free time, but most of us have chosen to do therapy, recover, get our minds right. I don’t even think anybody has gone out to see the sights, even though we have had some time to. We are really focused on why we are here. It is a business trip for us. Luckily for us, our business is incredible and being part of the Olympics.”

While the U.S. is in search of its first Olympic Games gold medal, the team does not dwell on the past. The team won the Olympic silver medal in 2008 to match its 1984 Olympic performance, but that is a past story. Berg and her teammates are focused on creating a new chapter for the team.

“We never focus on the past,” Berg said. “I can never forget our silver medal and what we accomplished at the last Olympics because that was incredible and unforgettable. But each quad as I have been in USA Volleyball, we have moved on and began a new quad and new story. I don’t know if that is because we have changed coaches every quad, or just because that is done and what was accomplished was amazing and let’s create a new story.”

According to Berg, success as the No. 1 team and just being Team USA have created a target on the team’s back over the past two years. Yet, the team is excited to enter the Olympics as the No. 1 team.

“Luckily we have had a lot of success in the last two years and we have gone into tournaments being No. 1 and being the team to beat,” Berg said. “USA in general is always the team to beat, whether we are ranked eighth or ranked first. We really have got into a rhythm of coming in and doing business, doing what we have to do taking care of the little things, really gelling as a team. Some days some people play bad and other players play great and we have been able to win tournaments that way. We are just really consistent as a group and everybody has been able to help, whether as starters or on the bench. This is what the strength of this group. I am looking at being No. 1 as a positive. We have earned it and we are here to prove it. I think the whole team feels that way. Hopefully we can prove it again in the biggest show we have been in. I think it is exciting to come in as the No. 1 team.”

Other Quotes

Lindsey Berg

“We are practicing in the evening to get our bodies ready to play in the evening because most of our matches are at 8 o’clock. We are really getting our body in tune. We had a great practice (Monday) and hoping to have even a better one (Tuesday).”

Hugh McCutcheon

“Logan is a wonderful volleyball player, and I have said this before, she is the best volleyball IQ I have ever coached. She sees the game, she reads the game better than anyone else out there as a player. She is creative and has a lot of skill. One of the things that is really important for our group is that she is really involved in terms of her ability to lead this team and to be a great teammate to help those around her with all those years of experience. She has become a really positive influence on our younger players. We are really happy that Logan is still going. We are really happy she is on our team. Like many people on this team, she has a significant role and she is doing a great job for us.”

“When you get to competing in the Olympic Games, having gone through it a couple times and having some success and having a feel for what works and doesn’t is an advantage. I don’t mean to suggest that this is algorithmic that you plug in A and get B. But I think there are some lessons learned that will apply in this campaign.”

“I think we are capable of playing some really good volleyball when we are playing great. There are no easy matches. We don’t expect any easy matches. We are trying to win the biggest event of our quadrennial. The challenge is real and we embrace that challenge. We are ready to battle. We want to be here. We have worked hard to be here. We think we are playing our best volleyball of the quad.”

2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team
# - Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
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)
10 - Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., Nebraska)
11 - Megan Hodge (OH, 6-3, Durham, N.C., Penn State)
13 - Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, Hopewell, Pa., Penn State)
15 - Logan Tom (OH, 6-1, Salt Lake City, Utah, Stanford)
16 - Foluke Akinradewo (MB, 6-3, Plantation, Fla., Stanford)
17 - Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, Kent, Wash., Washington)
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.)
Technical Coordinator: Giuseppe Vinci (Casteggio, Italy)
Team Manager: Ken Sullivan (Laguna Beach, Calif.)
Consultant Coach: Marv Dunphy (Malibu, Calif.)
Athletic Trainer/Medical Support: Jill Wosmek (Silver Lake, Minn.)
Doctor: Dr. William Stetson

2012 Olympic Games Women’s Volleyball Schedule

Pool A (World Ranking): Japan, Italy, Russia, Dominican Republic, Algeria, Great Britain

Pool B (World Ranking): USA, Brazil, China, Serbia, Turkey, Korea

Pool Play Standings
Pool A: Algeria 0-0 (0 points), Dominican Republic 0-0 (0 points), Great Britan 0-0 (0 points), Italy 0-0 (0 points), Japan 0-0 (0 points), Russia 0-0 (0 points)
Pool B: Brazil 0-0 (0 points), China 0-0 (0 points), Korea 0-0 (0 points), Serbia 0-0 (0 points), Turkey 0-0 (0 points), USA 0-0 (0 points)

July 28: Algeria vs. Japan, 9:30 a.m.
July 28: China vs. Serbia, 11:30 a.m.
July 28: Great Britain vs. Russia, 2:45 p.m.
July 28: Italy vs. Dominican Republic, 4:45 p.m.
July 28: USA vs. Korea, 8 p.m. (noon PT)
July 28: Brazil vs. Turkey, 10 p.m.

July 30: China vs. Turkey, 9:30 a.m.
July 30: Serbia vs. Korea, 11:30 a.m.
July 30: Dominican Republic vs. Russia, 2:45 p.m.
July 30: USA vs. Brazil, 4:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m. PT)
July 30: Italy vs. Japan, 8 p.m.
July 30: Great Britain vs. Algeria, 10 p.m.

Aug. 1: Dominican Republic vs. Japan, 9:30 a.m.
Aug. 1: Algeria vs. Russia, 11:30 a.m.
Aug. 1: Serbia vs. Turkey, 2:45 p.m.
Aug. 1: Great Britain vs. Italy, 4:45 p.m.
Aug. 1: USA vs. China, 8 p.m. (noon PT)
Aug. 1: Brazil vs. Korea, 10 p.m.

Aug. 3: Brazil vs. China, 9:30 a.m.
Aug. 3: Japan vs. Russia, 11:30 a.m.
Aug. 3: Turkey vs. Korea, 2:45 p.m.
Aug. 3: Great Britain vs. Dominican Republic, 4:45 p.m.
Aug. 3: USA vs. Serbia, 8 p.m. (noon PT)
Aug. 3: Algeria vs. Italy, 10 p.m.

Aug. 5: Algeria vs. Dominican Republic, 9:30 a.m.
Aug. 5: China vs. Korea, 11:30 a.m.
Aug. 5: Great Britain vs. Japan, 2:45 p.m.
Aug. 5: Italy vs. Russia, 4:45 p.m.
Aug. 5: USA vs. Turkey, 8 p.m. (noon PT)
Aug. 5: Brazil vs. Serbia, 10 p.m.

Aug. 7: Quarterfinal Matches at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m.

Aug. 9: Semifinal Matches at 3 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 11: Women’s Bronze Medal Match, 11:30 a.m.
Aug. 11: Women’s Gold Medal Match, 6:30 p.m.
Aug. 11: Women’s Gold Medal Ceremony, 8:20 p.m.