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USA and Brazil Friendly Rivals at the Top

By Bill Kauffman | July 04, 2014, 2:24 p.m. (ET)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 4, 2014) – The USA Volleyball Cup will have the unique opportunity to put the top two teams in the world of women’s volleyball on the same court for four matches from July 5 to July 12.

The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, ranked second in the world, hosts top-ranked and two-time defending Olympic Games champions Brazil in the Second Annual USA Volleyball Cup. Team USA has finished with the silver medal in the last two Olympic Games.

The USA Volleyball Cup opens July 5 at UC Irvine’s Bren Center at 7 p.m. PT, followed by a July 6 contest at University of Southern California’s Galen Center at 5 p.m. PT. Both matches will be streamed online at usavolleyballcup.com. The series shifts to Honolulu with matches at University of Hawaii’s Stan Sheriff Center on July 11 and July 12. First serve for both matches is set for 7 p.m. HT.

For details on the USA Volleyball Cup and how to purchase tickets, visit usavolleyballcup.com.

Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb.) gives her thoughts on playing Brazil in the video link above. Click here to watch an interview with Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah) talk about the USA Volleyball Cup, and click here to listen to Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) talk about Brazilian volleyball.

For the USA Volleyball Cup rosters for both teams and a video interview with Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.), click here.

USA Volleyball had an opportunity to talk with legendary Brazil Head Coach Jose Roberto Lages Guimaraes (Ze Roberto), the only individual to lead his country to Olympic Games gold medals for both men and women.

USA Volleyball: What are the advantages of playing the United States in the USA Volleyball Cup?
Ze Roberto: “At this point, it is very important for our training to play against the United States since we have high level of competition against one another. It is always a pleasure to come to United States and to play here. It is very important for us for the Brazilian team to come and see where and what kind of structure the United States, one of the best teams in the world, have so we can grow ourselves and try to build something better for ourselves.”

USA Volleyball: While the U.S. and Brazil have a strong rivalry, both teams have high admiration for each other. How does that come about?
Ze Roberto: “(The USA Volleyball Cup) continues the tradition of the exchange program where the U.S. comes to Brazil, and we come to the United States. Both teams get along really well. Even though there is a rivalry, it is a very healthy rivalry. The coaching staffs get along really well. The players get along really well. The USA Volleyball Cup is a great opportunity to continue building on that.”

USA Volleyball: What was it like coaching Kristin Hildebrand, the captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team, during the 2013-14 Brazilian Super League season with Volei Amil?
Ze Roberto: “I had the pleasure of coaching Kristin (Hildebrand) in Brazil. It was a great pleasure to work with Kristin for various reason, some of it because of her winning attitude, her dedication, her willingness to do more. I got a chance to see more of the mentality of the American players.”

USA Volleyball: Discuss the value of the rivalry to development of your Brazilian team:
Ze Roberto: “The rivalry comes from the two top ranked teams in the world having the chance to play and battle throughout the tournaments for the number one spot. This exchange of games with each other is very important to raise our individuals’ levels. The United States and Brazil have an opportunity to learn a little more from each other and use that in training to raise their levels as much as they can.”

USA Volleyball: What do you know about the tradition of Hawaii volleyball and why is it important for Brazil to play in this hotbed of volleyball?
Ze Roberto: “I have always heard of the importance and incredible volleyball atmosphere in Hawaii. I have been very curious to see that. I have had the opportunity to coach Lindsey Berg, who is a Hawaiian player. This exchange is very good as it gives us an opportunity to see Hawaii, which is a place we always hear good things about.”

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