A Conversation with Natalie Hagglund

By Bill Kauffman | June 26, 2014, 11:28 a.m. (ET)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (June 26, 2014) - Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, Calif.), one of two liberos on the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team who played University of Southern California during college, enjoyed her first two international tournament experiences at the senior level earlier this year at Montreux Volley Masters and Pan American Cup.

Now, Hagglund awaits to see if she will be in the mix to compete in the USA Volleyball Cup as No. 2 Team USA hosts No. 1 Brazil in a four match series that includes a stop at her former college, USC, on July 6. Hagglund was a three-time American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American First-Team while playing for the Women of Troy, and has become one of the top libero candidates in the United States.

The USA Volleyball Cup is a potential preview of the 2016 Olympic Games gold-medal match that will be played in Rio De Janeiro. Victory for the U.S. Women on the 4th of July weekend will provide a major confidence boost that will propel their preparations over the next two years.

The U.S. opens the USA Volleyball Cup on July 5 at UC Irvine's Bren Center at 7 p.m. PT, followed by the match at USC's Galen Center at 5 p.m. PT. The series shifts to Honolulu with matches on July 11-12 at University of Hawaii's Stan Sheriff Center. Both matches in Hawaii are set for 7 p.m. HT. For ticket information, visit usavolleyballcup.com.

Team USA features several players with local roots including two-time Olympian Nicole Davis (Stockton Calif., University of Southern California), Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, Calif., Stanford University), Juliann Faucette (San Diego, Calif., University of Texas), Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, Calif., University of Southern California), Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles, University of Arizona), Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California, University of California-Berkeley) and Sonja Newcombe (Lake Arrowhead, Calif., University of Oregon).

The U.S. Women have lost to Brazil in the last two Olympics Games gold-medal matches in 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 (London). Surprisingly, the U.S. Women have never won a major volleyball gold medal in the program’s history (Olympic Games, FIVB World Championship, FIVB World Cup) whereas their male counterparts have won Olympic gold three times.

In the second year of the Olympic quadrennial, the American team is building toward Olympic qualification. Team USA was 25-6 in 2013 playing a young roster that netted 13 wins against teams among the top 10 in the world. Not only will they need to be their best to be one of the 12 teams to earn a spot into the Olympic Games once team qualifications start in 2015, but they will need to be their best in 2016 to overcome their arch rival, Brazil, who will play host to the 2016 Olympic Games.

Beverage producer KonaRed is an official supplier for the USA Volleyball Cup.