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Tough Pool Awaits U.S. Women as it Controls Own World Grand Prix Destiny

By Bill Kauffman | Aug. 13, 2013, 9:39 a.m. (ET)

Kelly Murphy, who leads the FIVB World Grand Prix in Best Spiker, attacks for one of her 25 points versus Serbia on Aug. 11.

Bill Kauffman, USA Volleyball Senior Manager of Communications, Phone: 719-228-6800, Email: bill.kauffman@usav.org
USAV Facebook * @USA_Volleyball

SENDAI, Japan (Aug. 13, 2013) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team heads into the final FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary weekend at Sendai, Japan, on a three-match win streak with a 5-1 overall record and 14 points.

In Pool M at Sendai City Gymnasium, the Americans will face Czech Republic (2-4, 6 points) on Aug. 16 (11:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 15), host Japan (6-0, 17 points) on Aug. 17 (8:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 16) and Bulgaria (4-2, 13 points) on Aug. 18 (11:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 17). Pool M is the strongest group in the final weekend with three of the four teams ranked in the top eight of the 20-team field.

“With a younger group for this year's Grand Prix, we think it's fantastic that we get to play so many strong opponents,” U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “That continues this weekend, where we'll face three more great tests.”

After the preliminary round, the top five teams plus Japan advance to the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round set for Aug. 28-Sept. 1 in Sapporo, Japan. The U.S. is attempting to win the premier annual international women’s volleyball tournament for a record fourth consecutive year.

While Japan already holds a spot in the Final Round, it currently is in second place of the preliminary round as one of two undefeated teams along with China (6-0, 17 points). Serbia, which the U.S. defeated in five sets on Aug. 11 in Belgrade, is in third place as one of four teams with only one loss along with fourth-place Italy (15 points), the United States (15 points) and Brazil (14 points).

Bulgaria is one of four teams that follow closely behind with 4-2 records and within three points of grabbing a spot in the top six. Bulgaria upset Brazil last week in four sets to stay in the chase for a Final Round spot. Also with a shot at the Final round with 4-2 records are seventh-place Turkey, ninth-place Russia and 10th-place Dominican Republic.

“We are not taking anything for granted,” U.S. captain Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah) said. “We got another tough set of matches coming up, and we are going to battle as hard as we can so we can get into the Final Round.”

Kiraly has selected outside hitters Hildebrand, Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.), Regan Hood (Dallas) and Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, Calif.) to participate in the third weekend of pool competition taking place in Serbia. The middle blockers on the roster are Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio), Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.), Christa Harmotto (Hopewell Township, Pa.) and Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich.).

Setters for week two are Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) and Jenna Hagglund (West Chester, Ohio). The opposites are Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.). The selected liberos are Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) and Tamari Miyashiro (Kaneohe, Hawaii). Both Fawcett and Hagglund were part of the opening weekend roster. Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) and Juliann Faucette (San Diego) competed in the second weekend.

Through the first six matches, Murphy has led the U.S. in scoring with 80 points to rank 17th overall and ranks atop the Best Spiker list with a tournament-leading 48.9 kill percent on 135 total attacks. Hill has added 68 points for 25th place, along with fifth-place in Best Server with 0.50 aces per set and 14th place in Best Receiver with a 35.94 efficiency percent. Hildebrand ranks 12th in Best Spiker with 41.4 kill percent, while Gibbemeyer has been the Americans’ best blocker with a 0.55 block average for 20th-place in the tournament.

Glass ranks seventh in Best Setter with 5.36 running sets average, while holding a team-best 2.09 digs per set for 24th-place and adding a 0.50 block average for 25th best in the tournament.

Czech Republic, ranked 24th in the world, enters the weekend in 13th place with its two wins against Puerto Rico in the tournament opener and against Argentina in the final match of the second weekend. Czech Republic’s Aneta Havlickova ranks sixth in the tournament in scoring with 102 points. Michaeila Monzoni has 0.65 blocks per set for 11th-best in the tournament. The U.S. has won all four previous head-to-head meetings, the most recent coming in the 2010 FIVB World Championship in Nagoya, Japan.

The U.S. has already faced host Japan three times in 2013, with all three matches victories in Southern California as part of the USA Volleyball Cup. The two teams have met 224 times since 1983 with Japan holding a slim 113-101 margin. During this year’s Grand Prix, Japan holds victories over seventh-place Turkey and 11th-place Germany to its credit. Yukiko Ebata leads Japan in scoring during this year’s World Grand Prix with 84 points for 12th-best overall and is 11th in Best Spiker with a 43.0 kill percent. Risa Shinnabe ranks seventh in Best Spiker with a 44.3 kill percent.

While Bulgaria may only be ranked No. 43 in the world, the U.S. knows far too well that the Bulgarians are a strong opponent. In a pre-Olympic Games challenge series, Team USA played Bulgaria three times with the first match extending to five sets and the second match to four sets. Bulgaria’s two losses in this year’s World Grand Prix are to first-place China and Dominican Republic. Dobriana Rabadzhieva heads Bulgaria’s scoring chart with 84 points for 12th place overall, as well as producing a second-best 51.2 reception percent. Strashimira Filipova ranks fifth in Best Blocker with a 0.77 average. Team USA is 10-1 overall against Bulgaria with the one loss coming in 1998.

“I think everybody is going to be playing with nothing to lose, and we are going to have to stay on top of our game,” Murphy said in regards to this weekend’s three matches. “I think we have been getting more and more consistent as the tournament has gone on. So we can continue to improve with our practices and training during the week, I like our chances.”

Each team can make changes to its weekly FIVB World Grand Prix roster and carry up to 14-players selected from its 22-player preliminary roster. An hour before each match, head coaches must submit the team’s 12-player roster for that day’s match.

U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team World Grand Prix Preliminary Roster
# - Name (Position, Height, Spike Touch, Block Touch, Hometown, College)
1 - #^$ Alisha Glass (S, 6-0, 10-0, 9-10, Leland, Mich., Penn State University)
2 - Danielle Scott (MB, 6-2, 10-8, 9-11, Baton Rouge, La., Long Beach State University)
3 - ^ Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, 9-0, 8-8, Kent, Wash., University of Washington)
4 - Sonja Newcombe (OH, 6-1, 10-0, 9-10, Lake Arrowhead, Calif., University of Oregon)
5 - #^$ Tamari Miyashiro (L, 5-7, 9-4, 8-9, Kaneohe, Hawaii, University of Washington)
6 - Nicole Davis (L, 5-4, 9-4, 8-9, Stockton, Calif., University of Southern California)
7 - #^$ Cassidy Lichtman (OH, 6-1, 9-10, 9-2, Poway, Calif., Stanford University)
8 - #^$ Lauren Gibbemeyer (MB, 6-2, 10-1, 9-7, St. Paul, Minn., University of Minnesota)
9 - Alix Klineman (OH, 6-5, 10-7, 9-8, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Stanford University)
10 - #^$ Kristin Hildebrand (OH, 6-1, 9-10, 9-4, Orem, Utah, Stanford University)
11 - Alaina Bergsma (OPP, 6-3, 10-4, 9-10, Chandler, Ariz., University of Oregon)
12 - #^$ Kayla Banwarth (L, 5-10, 9-8, 9-3, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
13 - #^$ Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, 10-7, 9-10, Hopewell Township, Pa., Penn State University)
14 - #$ Nicole Fawcett (OPP, 6-4, 10-2, 9-7, Zanesfield, Ohio, Penn State University)
15 - #^$ Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, 10-4, 10-1, Wilmington, Ill., University of Florida)
16 - #^$ Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, 10-6, 10-2, Portland, Ore., Pepperdine University)
17 - #^$ Lauren Paolini (MB, 6-4, 10-5, 9-10, Ann Arbor, Mich., University of Texas)
18 - #^$ Regan Hood (OH, 6-2, 10-3, 10-0, Dallas, Texas, LSU)
19 - ^ Juliann Faucette (OPP, 6-2, 10-6. 10-1, San Diego, Calif., University of Texas)
20 - #$ Jenna Hagglund (S, 5-10, 9-7, 9-6, West Chester, Ohio, University of Washington)
21 - Cursty Jackson (MB, 6-2, 10-6, 10-2, Los Angeles, Calif., University of Arizona)
22 - #^$ Rachael Adams (MB, 6-2, 10-5, 10-1, Cincinnati, Ohio, University of Texas)
# - Selected for Week 1 Roster
^ - Selected for Week 2 Roster
$ - Selected for Week 3 Roster

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Reed Sunahara, Tom Black (Weeks 1/2), Cecile Reynaud (Week 3, Final Round)
Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek Team Leader: Cecile Reynaud (Weeks 1/2), Kenny Sullivan (Week 3, Final Round)

CLICK HERE for current standings

Rk Code Team Points Matches Results Details Sets Points
Played Won Lost 3-0 3-1 3-2 2-3 1-3 0-3 Won Lost Ratio Won Lost Ratio
1 CHN China 17 6 6   4 1 1       18 3 6.000 496 395 1.256
2 JPN Japan 17 6 6   3 2 1       18 4 4.500 525 419 1.253
3 SRB Serbia 16 6 5 1 4 1   1     17 4 4.250 493 401 1.229
4 ITA Italy 15 6 5 1 4 1     1   16 4 4.000 486 408 1.191
5 USA USA 14 6 5 1 3 1 1   1   16 6 2.667 513 410 1.251
6 BRA Brazil 14 6 5 1 1 3 1   1   16 8 2.000 561 485 1.157
7 TUR Turkey 13 6 4 2 3 1   1 1   15 7 2.143 524 453 1.157
8 BUL Bulgaria 13 6 4 2 2 2   1   1 14 8 1.750 514 450 1.142
9 RUS Russia 12 6 4 2 1 2 1 1 1   15 10 1.500 561 540 1.039
10 DOM Dominican Republic 11 6 4 2 2 1 1   1 1 13 9 1.444 487 493 0.988
11 GER Germany 11 6 3 3 1 2   2 1   14 11 1.273 568 509 1.116
12 NED Netherlands 6 6 2 4 2       2 2 8 12 0.667 419 413 1.015
13 CZE Czech Republic 6 6 2 4 1 1     1 3 7 13 0.538 423 465 0.910
14 THA Thailand 6 6 2 4 1 1       4 6 13 0.462 421 421 1.000
15 ARG Argentina 4 6 2 4     2   2 2 8 16 0.500 492 556 0.885
16 POL Poland 4 6 1 5 1     1 1 3 6 15 0.400 445 487 0.914
17 KAZ Kazakhstan 1 6   6       1 3 2 5 18 0.278 430 547 0.786
18 CUB Cuba   6   6         2 4 2 18 0.111 339 487 0.696
19 PUR Puerto Rico   6   6         1 5 1 18 0.056 359 473 0.759
20 ALG Algeria   6   6           6   18   206 450 0.458

2013 FIVB World Grand Prix Schedule (all match times local)

Pool A – Campinas, Brazil
Aug. 2: United States def. Russia 25-20, 17-25, 25-21, 25-12
Aug. 2: Brazil def. Poland 21-25, 25-17, 25-15, 25-20
Aug. 3: Brazil def. Russia 26-28, 26-24, 25-19, 22-25, 15-8
Aug. 3: United States def. Poland 25-22, 25-23, 25-16
Aug. 4: Brazil def. United States 17-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-20
Aug. 4: Russia def. Poland 25-21, 22-25, 29-27, 28-30, 15-13

Pool B – San Domingo, Dominican Republic
Aug. 2: Czech Republic vs. Puerto Rico 25-14, 25-20, 25-18
Aug. 2: Serbia def. Dominican Republic 25-13, 25-20, 25-16
Aug. 3: Serbia def. Czech Republic 28-26, 25-18, 25-23
Aug. 3: Dominican Republic def. Puerto Rico 25-14, 26-24, 25-21
Aug. 4: Serbia def. Puerto Rico 25-22, 22-25, 25-17, 25-17
Aug. 4: Dominican Republic def. Czech Republic 25-22, 25-20, 23-25, 25-18

Pool C – Ankara, Turkey
Aug. 2: Turkey def. Algeria 25-13, 25-18, 25-15
Aug. 2: Japan def. Thailand 25-19, 25-17, 25-21
Aug. 3: Japan def. Algeria 25-10, 25-8, 25-8
Aug. 3: Turkey def. Thailand 25-23, 26-24, 25-22
Aug. 4: Thailand def. Algeria 25-7, 25-14, 25-13
Aug. 4: Japan def. Turkey 25-21, 30-28, 18-25, 25-18

Pool D – Macau, China
Aug. 2: Netherlands def. Cuba 25-20, 25-14, 25-11
Aug. 2: China def. Bulgaria 25-13, 26-24, 25-23
Aug. 3: Bulgaria def. Netherlands 20-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-23
Aug. 3: China def. Cuba 25-13, 25-20, 25-15
Aug. 4: Bulgaria def. Cuba 25-8, 25-15, 25-16
Aug. 4: China def. Netherlands 26-24, 19-25, 25-17, 25-17

Pool E – Montichiari, Italy
Aug. 2: Germany def. Kazakhstan 25-23, 23-25, 25-19, 25-17
Aug. 2: Italy def. Argentina 25-21, 25-20, 25-17
Aug. 3: Argentina def. Germany 25-23, 13-25, 18-25, 25-21, 15-12
Aug. 3: Italy def. Kazakhstan, 28-26, 25-17, 25-13
Aug. 4: Argentina def. Kazakhstan 15-25, 25-15, 23-25, 25-20, 15-9
Aug. 4: Italy def. Germany 25-23, 25-20, 24-26, 25-20

Pool F – Belgrade, Serbia
Aug. 9: Serbia def. Netherlands 25-18, 25-16, 25-21
Aug. 9: United States def. Algeria 25-12, 25-15, 25-11
Aug. 10: Serbia def. Algeria 25-11, 25-12, 25-11
Aug. 10: United States def. Netherlands 25-20, 25-16, 25-12
Aug. 11: Netherlands def. Algeria 25-15, 25-7, 25-6
Aug. 11: United States def. Serbia 25-14, 22-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-12

Pool G – Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
Aug. 9: Brazil def. Dominican Republic 20-25, 25-22, 25-12, 25-18
Aug. 9: Bulgaria def. Puerto Rico 25-21, 25-20, 25-10
Aug. 10: Bulgaria def. Brazil 25-22, 25-21, 20-25, 25-21
Aug. 10: Dominican Republic def. Puerto Rico 25-22, 25-23, 25-20
Aug. 11: Dominican Republic def. Bulgaria 25-22, 18-25, 25-23, 28-30, 16-14
Aug. 11: Brazil def. Puerto Rico 25-14, 25-15, 25-17

Pool H – Plock, Poland
Aug. 9: Japan def. Germany 18-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-12
Aug. 9: Poland def. Kazakhstan 25-17, 25-17, 25-11
Aug. 10: Japan def. Kazakhstan 23-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-20
Aug. 10: Germany def. Poland 25-17, 25-17, 26-24
Aug. 11: Germany def. Kazakhstan 25-14, 25-11, 20-25, 25-19
Aug. 11: Japan def. Poland 25-19, 26-24, 25-15

Pool I – Hong Kong, China
Aug. 9: Turkey def. Argentina 25-17, 25-14, 34-36, 25-18
Aug. 9: China def. Czech Republic 25-14, 25-17, 25-13
Aug. 10: Turkey def. Czech Republic 25-23, 25-18, 25-15
Aug. 10: China def. Argentina 25-17, 26-24, 25-22
Aug. 11: Czech Republic def. Argentina 25-20, 21-25, 25-22, 25-20
Aug. 11: China def. Turkey 19-25, 25-17, 25-20, 15-25, 15-10

Pool J – Ekaterinburg, Russia
Aug. 9: Russia def. Italy 25-13, 18-25, 25-18, 26-24
Aug. 9: Thailand def. Cuba 25-21, 25-17, 21-25, 25-19
Aug. 10: Russia def. Thailand 25-20, 25-23, 25-22
Aug. 10: Italy def. Cuba 25-16, 25-16, 25-20
Aug. 11: Russia def. Cuba 25-17, 25-14, 16-25, 25-17
Aug. 11: Italy def. Thailand 25-18, 25-14, 29-27

Pool K – Almaty, Kazakhstan
Aug. 16: Cuba vs. Brazil, 3 p.m.
Aug. 16: Kazakhstan vs. Netherlands, 6 p.m.
Aug. 17: Brazil vs. Netherlands, 3 p.m.
Aug. 17: Kazakhstan vs. Cuba, 6 p.m.
Aug. 18: Cuba vs. Netherlands, 3 p.m.
Aug. 18: Kazakhstan vs. Brazil, 6 p.m.

Pool L – Bangkok, Thailand
Aug. 16: Thailand vs. Puerto Rico, 4 p.m.
Aug. 16: Germany vs. Russia, 6:30 p.m.
Aug. 17: Russia vs. Puerto Rico, 2 p.m.
Aug. 17: Thailand vs. Germany, 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 18: Puerto Rico vs. Germany, 2 p.m.
Aug. 18: Russia vs. Thailand, 4:30 p.m.

Pool M – Sendai, Japan
Aug. 16: United States vs. Czech Republic, 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 16: Japan vs. Bulgaria, 6:15 p.m.
Aug. 17: Japan vs. United States, 12:30 p.m.
Aug. 17: Czech Republic vs. Bulgaria, 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 18: Japan vs. Czech Republic, 12:30 p.m.
Aug. 18: United States vs. Bulgaria, 3:30 p.m.

Pool N – Wuhan, China
Aug. 16: Serbia vs. Poland, 4 p.m.
Aug. 16: China vs. Argentina, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 17: Argentina vs. Serbia, 4 p.m.
Aug. 17: China vs. Poland, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 18: Poland vs. Argentina, 4 p.m.
Aug. 18: China vs. Serbia, 7:30 p.m.

Pool O – Kaohsiung City, Chinese Taipei
Aug. 16: Italy vs. Algeria, 3 p.m.
Aug. 16: Turkey vs. Dominican Republic, 6 p.m.
Aug. 17: Algeria vs. Turkey, 3 p.m.
Aug. 17: Italy vs. Dominican Republic, 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 18: Dominican Republic vs. Algeria, 3 p.m.
Aug. 18: Italy vs. Turkey, 5:30 p.m.

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