Depth Showcased in USA Volleyball Cup

By Bill Kauffman | July 07, 2014, 10:21 p.m. (ET)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 7, 2014) – The USA Volleyball Cup has showcased the depth of the second-ranked U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team playing against its respected rival Brazil, ranked No. 1 in the world and two-time defending Olympic Games champions.

In the opener of the four-match series on July 5 at UC Irvine, Team USA won 25-22, 25-27, 25-19, 25-19 with the veterans taking charge. Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb.), a 2012 Olympic Games silver medalist, scored 16 points as one of five USA players in double-figure scoring. Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) and Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.) charted 15 points each. Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) chipped in 14 points in her first USA match since winning silver at the 2012 Olympic Games.

In the second match on July 6 at University of Southern California, Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Ill.) scored 19 and 16 points respectively in leading Team USA to a 25-21, 25-23, 25-20 victory in their first starting roles in a match against Brazil at the senior level.

“We switched five of our seven starters from one match to the next and still had nice success, even better success on the scoreboard than the first night,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “We are proud of that. It is important to be developing and building for the future. It is important to develop lots of good players to see as many players as we can and see which 12 end up developing the most come the big competitions such as the Rio Olympics should we qualify.”

With the USA Volleyball Cup series shifting to Honolulu on July 11-12, different stars could emerge as the lineup has slight changes from the first two matches.

“I think our depth is a huge complement to our team and our program,” Robinson said. “We can put whoever we want on the court and we are going to play hard. I love being a part of this team because everybody is so supportive and has a role and part in its success.”

Robinson, who is in her first year of international competition with the U.S. Women’s National Team after training with the program in 2013, chuckled at the thought of her nerves playing Brazil for the first time in her career.

“Huge nerves,” Robinson said laughing. “We have a thing where we want to be at a five on a scale of 1 to 10. I told my teammates before the match that I am at 110 on the scale. But my teammates helped me get back to a five. First serve, blast and it was over. After that I was fine.”

The U.S. Women’s program has been building depth under the leadership of head coach Karch Kiraly. While the USA Volleyball Cup roster has 17 players eligible for competition against Brazil, those players represent less than half the players who have suited for Team USA in 2014 international competitions.

A total of 38 players have played in four events thus far in 2014 netting one gold, two silvers and two big victories over top-ranked Brazil in the opening two matches of the USA Volleyball Cup.

“I think that is a real tribute to the U.S. Women’s National Team program, to the college game that is part of their developmental career, and of course the USA Volleyball High Performance pipeline that many of our players have been a part of in their careers,” Kiraly said about having so many athletes contributing to the success of Team USA. “But we do stress trying to keep lots of people in the gym and trying to teach and having them learn as much as possible. It is awesome to have so many players that we can have confidence in going into a match like Brazil.”

The 2014 season started with a young group of 12 athletes, mainly in their first year out of college, winning the gold medal at the NORCECA World Championship Qualification Tournament held May 15-18. By winning the event, Team USA secured its berth into September’s FIVB World Championship in Italy.

A separate 12-player roster was put to the task at the Montreux Volley Masters in Switzerland, and they came away with the silver medal playing against seven of the top 10 teams in the world. At Montreux, the U.S. had three Olympians playing alongside five different players competing in their first senior-level international match all with at least one start.

Shortly after that, Team USA sent another young roster without any Olympians to compete in the Pan American Cup in Mexico City June 11-19. Without missing a step, the Americans came away with the silver medal, only losing to an Olympic-laden team from the Dominican Republic.

That sort of competition within the American Sports Centers gym where the team trains in Anaheim, Calif., has created an environment of success. Despite potential pitfalls such as a varying age difference from 17 to early 30s, the team continues to have fun.

“Some girls are 10 years older than me, so sometimes it can be hard to feel a part of it,” Robinson said. “I haven’t had one problem with that this whole time. I think we have such good team chemistry. Our gym is so hard to put the ball away, so it is fun. It is always fun and really competitive.”

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for USA Volleyball Cup (see legend for corresponding matches)
# - Name (Position, Ht, World Championship App, Olympic App, Hometown, College)
1 – *^# Alisha Glass (S, 6-0, 11, 0, Leland, Mich., Penn State)
2 – *^# Kayla Banwarth (L, 5-10, 0, 0, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
3 – *^# Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, 0, 8, Kent, Wash., University of Washington)
4 – *^ Lauren Paolini (MB, 6-4, 0, 0, Ann Arbor, Mich., University of Texas)
6 – *^# Nicole Davis (L, 5-4, 11, 16, Stockton, Calif., University of Southern California)
7 – *^# Cassidy Lichtman (OH, 6-1, 0, 0, Poway, Calif., Stanford University)
8 – *^# Lauren Gibbemeyer (MB, 6-2, 0, 0, St. Paul, Minn., University of Minnesota)
9 – *^ Kristin Hildebrand (OH, 6-1, 0, 0, Orem, Utah, Stanford University)
10 – *^# Jordan Larson-Burbach (OH, 6-2, 11, 8, Hooper, Neb., University of Nebraska)
12 - *^# Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, 0, 0, Wilmington, Ill., University of Florida)
14 - # Nicole Fawcett (OPP, 6-4, 0, 0, Zanesfield, Ohio, Penn State)
15 - *# Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, 0, 0, Portland, Ore., Pepperdine University)
16 - *# Foluke Akinradewo (MB, 6-3, 11, 8, Plantation, Fla., Stanford University)
17 - *^ Alix Klineman (OPP, 6-5, 0, 0, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Stanford University)
22 - *^# Rachael Adams (MB, 6-2, 0, 0, Cincinnati, Ohio, University of Texas)
26 - ^# Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, 0, 0, Bartlett, Ill., University of Nebraska)
28 - ^# Tori Dixon (MB, 6-3, 0, 0, Burnsville, Minn., University of Minnesota)
Legend: * = July 5 at UCI; ^ = July 6 at USC; # = July 11-12 at Hawaii

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Jamie Morrison, Tom Black
Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek

Brazil Roster for Women’s USA Volleyball Cup
# - Name (Position, Ht, World Championship App, Olympic App, Club)
1 – Fabiana Claudino (MB, 6-4, 14, 13, SESI-SP)
3 – Danielle Lins (S, 5-11, 13, 7, Osasco/Molico)
4 – Ana Carolina Da Silva (MB, 6-0, 0, 0, Unilever)
5 – Adenizia Silva (MB, 6-1, 6, 7, Molico/Nestle)
6 – Thaisa Menezes (MB, 6-5, 14, 14, Molico/Nestle)
7 – Andreia Sforzin Laurence (OH, 6-0, 7, 0, Unilever)
8 – Jaqueline Pereira de Carvalho Endres (OH, 6-1, 13, 14, NA)
10 – Gabriela Braga Guimaraes (OH, 5-9, 0, 0, Unilever)
11 – Tandara Caixeta (OH, 6-0, 0, 7, Banana Boat/Praia Clube)
12 – Natalia Pereira (OH, 6-0, 14, 8, Unilever)
13 – Sheilla Castro (OPP, 6-1, 16, 14, VakifBank)
14 – Ana Tiemi (S, 6-2, 7, 0, Bursa B.B. SK)
15 – Monique Marinho Pavao (OPP, 5-10, 0, 0, SESI-SP)
16 – Fernanda Rodrigues (OH, 5-10, 0, 7, Dinamo Krasnodar)
17 – Josefa Fabiola Almeida De Sousa Alves (S, 6-0, 8, 0, Dinamo Krasnodar)
18 – Camila Brait (L, 5-7, 9, 0, Molico/Nestle)

Head Coach: Jose Roberto Lages Guimaraes
Assistant Coaches: Paulo do Rego Barros Junior, Claudio Lopes Pinheiro
Trainer: Fabio Correia
Statistician: Marco Antonio Di Bonifacio
Team Manager: Leonardo Gomes Pereira Cupertino Moraes