COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 18, 2013) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team had every right to celebrate its Pan American Cup title on Sunday after sweeping Dominican Republic and going 5-0 in Lima, Peru. Yet, business is business when trying to stay No. 1 and entertaining the No. 3 team in the world in just over three weeks in Southern California as part of the USA Volleyball Cup.
Granted, the U.S. Women took in the podium moment and celebrated the accomplishment of winning the major intercontinental event for the second year in a row. Only one other team has accomplished the back-to-back feat. There was also plenty to smile about with the team qualifying for the 2014 FIVB World Grand Prix, the top annual international volleyball tournament, and new head coach Karch Kiraly transitioning flawlessly into the lead chair. The American roster, with just one representative from the 2012 Olympic Games silver-medal team and three players suiting up for the first time in a USA uniform for an international event, defeated a veteran, Olympic-laden Dominican Republic squad in the title match 25-12, 25-20, 25-18.
Team USA won the title with a true team effort, though several individuals stood out. Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) collected both the most valuable player award and best server award. Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.), her former Penn State teammate and the only American with Olympic experience on the roster, was named the best spiker. Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) earned the best receiver honor and was second in the best libero category.
But on Sunday night in Lima, there was no long night of celebration. The squad went directly from the venue to the Lima airport to catch a red-eye flight back to Anaheim, Calif., where the team is based, to get ready for Friday’s free Red-Blue scrimmage at Cathedral Catholic High School (5555 Del Mar Heights Road) in San Diego. The match will start at 7 p.m. PT.
Two players with San Diego ties will compete in the scrimmage, including outside hitter Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, Calif., Francis Parker High School) and opposite Juliann Faucette (San Diego, Westview High School). Lichtman was a member of the past two Pan American Cup gold medal teams. Further, Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, Calif.) has been a part of the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team but will not participate in this scrimmage.
Other players on the team expected to dress for the scrimmage are outside hitters Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah), Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.), Regan Hood (Carrollton, Texas), Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Sonja Newcombe (Lake Arrowhead, Calif.) and Becky Perry (Austin, Texas). The middle blockers who will compete are Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio), Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.), Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles), Jessica Jones (Naperville, Ill.), Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) and Kristen Dozier (Sandy Spring, Md.). Faucette will be joined at opposite with Alaina Bergsma (Chandler, Ariz.), Fawcett and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.). The setters for the scrimmage will be Caitlyn Donahue (Overland Park, Kan.), Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.), Jenna Hagglund (West Chester, Ohio) and Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.). At libero, Banwarth, Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) and Tama Miyashiro (Kaneohe, Hawaii) will compete in the scrimmage.
The San Diego intrasqaud scrimmage, the fourth the team has held since May 17 to build community support around the area it trains, is a prelude to the opening match of the USA Volleyball Cup in which the U.S. Women host Japan July 10 at 7 p.m. PT on the campus of UC San Diego.
“The USA Volleyball Cup is a fantastic event connecting our Women’s National Team with the Southern California community in which we’re based, and of course providing competition against one of the world’s great teams,” Kiraly said. “To inaugurate this Cup, it is an honor that Japan has accepted to compete and renew a storied rivalry of tours across the United States and in Japan.”
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.
San Diego will be the place to be for volleyball this weekend as the Starlings National Championships will be held June 21-23 at three sites in the city. The guiding concept for Starlings programs, which serves some 3,000 girls in 50-plus clubs across the United States, is to provide an opportunity for girls ages 10-18 to participate regardless of their socioeconomic background. Club dues, if any, are a fraction of most junior volleyball clubs and no girl is turned away because of inability to pay.
The U.S. Women’s National Team has a unique, direct interest in the Starlings program. The team became a key component in the creation of the Starlings Anaheim program, which trains on the same courts as the U.S. Women at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim. On Monday and Wednesday afternoons, Team USA players provide coaching to the Starlings Anaheim members and serve as mentors for the wide-eyed young players who soak up all the knowledge imparted to them.
The USA Volleyball Cup series continues on July 12 at Long Beach State University and on July 13 at JSerra High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. In future years it is foreseen that one U.S. Women’s match will be scheduled each year in Southern California and a second match elsewhere in the country. Similar efforts are being created to incorporate the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team into the USA Volleyball Cup.
The U.S. Women are ranked No. 1 in the world by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), while Japan is ranked No. 3. The Americans finished the 2012 season with their second consecutive Olympic Games silver medal, one spot ahead of the Japanese who claimed the 2012 Olympic Games bronze medal.
General admission ticket prices are $20 for adults and $5 for youth ages 18-and-under for each match, online or at the door. Children 3-and-under will be admitted free. To purchase tickets online for any of the three USA Volleyball Cup series matches or for more information, visit usavolleyballcup.com.
To follow the USA Volleyball Cup and the series with Japan, visit the dedicated Facebook page by clicking here.