U.S. Women Prepared for Grand Prix Final Round

By Bill Kauffman | Aug. 27, 2013, 11:13 a.m. (ET)

The U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team takes its one-hour practice on the Final Round competition floor on Tuesday

Bill Kauffman, USA Volleyball Senior Manager of Communications, Phone: 719-228-6800, Email: bill.kauffman@usav.org
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SAPPORO, Japan (Aug. 26, 2013) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team has arrived in Sapporo, Japan, for the six-team 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round set for Aug. 28 to Sept. 1 at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center.

Team USA is seeking to become the first squad to win the premier annual women’s international volleyball tournament for a fourth consecutive year. The U.S. has won all three of its titles since 2010 with the Final Rounds being held in China. Meanwhile, the last three times the Final Round has been hosted by Japan, the Brazilians have come out on top (2005, 2008, 2009).

The Americans, who spent seven days training in Sendai, Japan, after completing the third preliminary round weekend in the city, finished the 2013 preliminary round with an 8-1 record and earned a spot in the Final Round on the last day of the preliminary round on Aug. 18 following a five-set victory over Bulgaria in Sendai, Japan.

With such a history between the two teams, it is somewhat fitting that he U.S. and Brazil open the 2013 Final Round on Aug. 28 (11:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 27). U.S. continues the round-robin format versus Serbia on Aug. 29 (9:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 28). On the middle day of the competition, The Americans challenge China on Aug. 30 (9:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 29) prior to facing Italy on Aug. 31 (9:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 30). Team USA closes out the Final Round versus host Japan on Sept. 1 (3:10 a.m. PT). All U.S. matches will be broadcast with same-day coverage on Universal Sports with live video streaming at universalsports.com. For the video schedule, click here.

“There is nothing better than to face the best across the net and our team is very pleased to earn the right to face the best teams that are here, the best athletes and the best coaches,” U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “That is all we could ask for. We are going to lose plenty of points this week and try hard to win some point too. It will be a good experience for us.”

Kiraly has elected to use the same roster for the Final Round as the third preliminary weekend. The outside hitters are Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah), Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.), Regan Hood (Dallas) and Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, Calif.). 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 the Final Round 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).

To reach the 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round, the U.S. finished the nine-match, three weekend preliminary World Grand Prix on a six-match win streak with an 8-1 overall record and 22 points. China (9-0, 25 points) is the top seed following the preliminary round, followed by second-seed Brazil (8-1, 23 points), third-seed Serbia (7-2, 23 points), fifth-seed Italy (7-2, 21 points) and host country Japan (7-2, 19 points), which finished sixth in the preliminary round.

Team USA’s opening contest versus Brazil will have an Olympic Games feel to it as a rematch to both the 2008 and 2012 gold-medal match with Brazil. In the opening 2013 World Grand Prix weekend at Campinas, Brazil, the host South Americans snapped the Americans’ 18-match World Grand Prix win streak dating back to 2011 with a four-set victory on Aug. 4. Brazil, winners of the last two Olympic Games, is the only team to defeat the U.S. in this year’s World Grand Prix. While the U.S. has won the last three World Grand Prix titles, Brazil has finished second in the last three events after having won the event three years in a row (2007-2009) for its record eight titles. The U.S. defeated Brazil in the Final Round opener in 2012.

“Every time it’s difficult to play against them,” Brazil head coach Jose Guimaraes said. “We need high concentration, we need to serve well and the relation between the blocking and defense has to be perfect to try to stop them. But we have to play and we have to enjoy the game.”

On the second day of the round-robin Final Round format, the U.S. meets Serbia. During the second weekend of the preliminary round, Team USA defeated host Serbia in five sets on Aug. 11.

In their third Final Round match, the Americans will meet up with a familiar face leading the Chinese team, former U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Head Coach “Jenny” Lang Ping. Under Lang Ping’s direction, she led the U.S. to the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in her home country. She took over as head coach of the Chinese team earlier this year and has led her native country to a 15-match win streak heading into the World Grand Prix Final Round.

“Despite the results we got in the preliminary round, we still have a lot to improve and work on,” said Lang Ping. “We are very happy to make the final round and it will be a great opportunity to learn from the best teams in the world. Brazil, USA and Japan won the gold, silver and bronze medal at the London Olympic Games while Serbia and Italy are very strong teams from Europe. We are under no pressure at all. We’ll just try our best and see what happens.”

Team USA challenges Italy at 1:30 p.m. local time on Aug. 31 (9:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 30), the fourth day of the Final Round.

“For our team it is a perfect opportunity to play in the final six to improve our game and prepare for the European Championships,” Italy head coach Marco Mencarelli said. “We are a young team with a lot of young players and we need the experience of playing against high level teams around the world. We will have three years to work and improve. We hope this group of players will be in Rio in 2016 and we hope for the best results.”

The Americans have played Japan 225 times since 1983 with Japan holding a slim 113-102 series advantage. However, the U.S. is 4-0 versus Japan in 2013 as the Americans won all three matches in Southern California as part of the USA Volleyball Cup as well as the 3-0 victory on Aug. 18 in Sendai during the final World Grand Prix preliminary round weekend.

The U.S. and Japan have had a recent habit of playing each other on the final day of FIVB events with Japan winning the last 2011 FIVB World Cup match and the 2010 FIVB World Championship. However, the U.S. did top Japan in the last 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round match to win its first of three straight titles.

Team USA is the only country to have played more than two of its Final Round opponents. The U.S. defeated Serbia and Japan on its opponents’ home court, while losing to Brazil in Brazil. Serbia also was edged by China in five sets during the preliminary round as there are no other head-to-head results of the six finalists. Italy did not face any of the other five finalists during the preliminary round.

Since 2010, the Americans are 47-5 in FIVB World Grand Prix matches. Brazil holds two of those victories, including a 2012 Final Round pool play win. Serbia also handed the U.S. a loss in the 2011 preliminary round.

Hildebrand and Murphy finished the preliminary round ranked 18th in scoring with 96 points each, while Hill added 80 points for 31st place. Murphy ranked second in Best Spiker with a 45.00 kill percent, just 0.19 behind leader Risa Shinnabe of Japan. Hildebrand ranked fourth in Best Spiker with a 44.44 kill percent.

Glass contributed 5.79 running sets average for sixth-best in Best Setter during the preliminary round. Harmotto ranked as the Americans’ top blocker with a 0.65 block average for 11th place in Best Blocker. Hill produced a 0.35 ace average for eighth-best in Best Server during the preliminary round. Miyashiro, who played six of the nine preliminary matches, ranked 27th in Best Digger with a 1.50 dig average, while Hill followed in 30th position with a 1.41 dig average.

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
* - Selected for Final Round 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), Craig Thompson (Final Round)

2013 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round Schedule
Aug. 28: Serbia vs. China, 1:30 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 27)
Aug. 28: United States vs. Brazil, 3:30 p.m. local time (11:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 27)
Aug. 28: Japan vs. Italy, 7:10 p.m. local time (3:10 a.m. PT)
Aug. 29: United States vs. Serbia, 1:30 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 28)
Aug. 29: Italy vs. China, 3:30 p.m. local time (11:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 28)
Aug. 29: Japan vs. Brazil, 7:10 p.m. local time (3:10 a.m. PT)
Aug. 30: United States vs. China, 1:30 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 29)
Aug. 30: Brazil vs. Italy, 3:30 p.m. local time (11:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 29)
Aug. 30: Serbia vs. Japan, 7:10 p.m. local time (3:10 a.m. PT)
Aug. 31: United States vs. Italy, 1:30 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 30)
Aug. 31: Brazil vs. Serbia, 3:30 p.m. local time (11:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 30)
Aug. 31: Japan vs. China, 7:10 p.m. local time (3:10 a.m. PT)
Sept. 1: Serbia vs. Italy, 1:30 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 31)
Sept. 1: China vs. Brazil, 3:30 p.m. local time (11:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 31)
Sept. 1: United States vs. Japan, 7:10 p.m. local time (3:10 a.m. PT)

2013 FIVB World Grand Prix Preliminary Round Results

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: Brazil def. Cuba 25-16, 25-11, 25-20
Aug. 16: Netherlands def. Kazakhstan 25-23, 25-14, 25-16
Aug. 17: Brazil def. Netherlands 25-15, 25-20, 25-15
Aug. 17: Kazakhstan def. Cuba 25-20, 17-25, 30-28, 25-20
Aug. 18: Netherlands def. Cuba 25-13, 25-23, 25-22
Aug. 18: Brazil def. Kazakhstan 25-17, 25-16, 25-10

Pool L – Bangkok, Thailand
Aug. 16: Thailand def. Puerto Rico 18-25, 25-7, 25-22, 25-11
Aug. 16: Russia def. Germany 22-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-19, 15-11
Aug. 17: Russia def. Puerto Rico 25-8, 25-16, 25-19
Aug. 17: Germany def. Thailand 25-16, 25-14, 27-25
Aug. 18: Puerto Rico def. Germany 25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 13-25, 15-13
Aug. 18: Russia def. Thailand 24-26, 25-18, 25-22, 20-25, 15-11

Pool M – Sendai, Japan
Aug. 16: United States def. Czech Republic 25-20, 25-20, 25-23
Aug. 16: Bulgaria def. Japan 25-23, 25-23, 31-29
Aug. 17: United States def. Japan 25-17, 25-19, 21-25, 25-18
Aug. 17: Bulgaria def. Czech Republic 20-25, 25-18, 25-17, 22-25, 15-8
Aug. 18: Japan def. Czech Republic 25-18, 22-25, 28-26, 23-25, 15-13
Aug. 18: United States def. Bulgaria 16-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-15, 15-8

Pool N – Wuhan, China
Aug. 16: Serbia def. Poland 25-14, 25-20, 22-25, 25-21
Aug. 16: China def. Argentina 25-18, 25-17, 25-16
Aug. 17: Serbia def. Argentina 25-12, 25-20, 25-14
Aug. 17: China def. Poland 25-18, 25-21, 16-25, 25-23
Aug. 18: Poland def. Argentina 25-21, 21-25, 25-12, 23-25, 15-11
Aug. 18: China def. Serbia 25-17, 25-27, 25-20, 23-25, 15-5

Pool O – Kaohsiung City, Chinese Taipei
Aug. 16: Italy def. Algeria 25-13, 25-19, 25-10
Aug. 16: Turkey def. Dominican Republic 25-27, 22-25, 25-22, 26-24, 15-13
Aug. 17: Turkey def. Algeria 25-12, 25-12, 25-12
Aug. 17: Dominican Republic def. Italy 21-25, 19-25, 32-30, 26-24, 15-11
Aug. 18: Dominican Republic def. Algeria 25-11, 25-9, 25-8
Aug. 18: Italy def. Turkey 25-17, 25-18, 17-25, 15-25, 15-12

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