ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 9, 2013) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team and the Japan National Volleyball Team held an informal scrimmage Tuesday morning at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim, Calif., on the eve of the inaugural USA Volleyball Cup match series taking place in Southern California.
The U.S. is ranked No. 1 in the world, while Japan is ranked No. 3. For its three official USA Volleyball Cup matches, the two teams will meet initially on July 10 at UC San Diego in La Jolla, Calif., followed by a July 12 match at Long Beach State University in Long Beach, Calif., and the final match July 13 at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. All three matches will start at 7 p.m. PT.
“To bring competition here is a pretty special opportunity,” said U.S. outside hitter Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah). “Japan is an amazing team. For me, their defense is inspiring. Playing against them, putting a ball down is so challenging. They are going to be great competition and the matches will be awesome.”
Tickets to the matches can be purchased in advance online at usavolleyballcup.com or onsite. General admission ticket prices are $20 for adults and $5 for youth ages 18-and-under for each match. Children 3-and-under will be admitted free. In addition, all three matches will be video streamed live through usavolleyballcup.com.
“Japan is a fun team to play,” said U.S. setter Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.). “Their offense is equally as dynamic as their defense. They fly around and have all these crazy combos. They are a fun team to play, a fun team to watch.”
The USA Volleyball Cup is a new initiative that will draw elite teams to the United States to compete in an annual tour series with the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Volleyball Teams. Such events will help foster local community ties to the two National Team programs and the City of Anaheim where the teams train.
“To do what we do in our country is really special for us,” Thompson said. “I have been with the U.S. team for six years, and I think I have played in the U.S. in only one tournament. Half my family had not watched me play in a USA uniform until the Olympics last year. It is really cool that we are doing this in the first year of the quad. I am very excited for us, our fans and our families.”
Japan arrived in Anaheim Saturday and has been training at the ASC, the National Team Center for the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Volleyball Teams.
During the scrimmage, the majority of the 28 USA players in the gym were grouped into four squads with two teams competing simultaneously on separate courts against two teams from Japan. The U.S. teams rotated either into a scrimmage setting or training against the other off U.S. team.
Both the United States and Japan will be using the USA Volleyball Cup to prepare for the upcoming FIVB World Grand Prix that starts in August. The U.S. has won the World Grand Prix the past three years. The USA Volleyball Cup roster mirrors the U.S. roster that will be used at the FIVB World Grand Prix with the exception of Larson-Burbach not competing in the annual premier international volleyball tournament for women.
“It is a wonderful opportunity to prepare for tournaments by hosting quality opponents beforehand,” said five-time U.S. Olympian Danielle Scott (Baton Rouge, La.), who will have the chance to play at her alma mater Long Beach State during the USA Volleyball Cup. “Having a chance to compete in front of our family, friends and fans is awesome and far too rare. So we are totally excited. Long Beach State did an outstanding job hosting the men's NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament in 2012. I am looking forward to playing in the Pyramid again.”
Team USA is already off to a 5-0 start to the 2013 campaign after capturing the XII Women’s Pan American Cup last month. Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) was named the most valuable player and best server, while Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) was the best receiver. Since the 2012 season, the U.S. is 35-2 overall.
Destinee Hooker (San Antonio, Texas), who is taking time off this summer from the National Team as she and her husband are expecting the birth of their first child, made an appearance at the American Sports Centers and watched some of the USA versus Japan scrimmage...Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) resumed training again with the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team on Monday.