Preview of U.S. Women versus Dominican Republic

By Bill Kauffman | Aug. 06, 2012, 8:59 a.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman
USA Volleyball Communications
Phone: 719-228-6800
USAV Facebook - @USA_Volleyball

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LONDON (Aug. 6, 2012) – The U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team, in search of its first-ever Olympic Games gold medal, ended the preliminary round of the 2012 Olympic Games with an undefeated record and will now meet a familiar foe in NORCECA rival Dominican Republic during the quarterfinals on Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time (11 a.m. PT).

Team USA, ranked No. 1 in the world with a 28-1 record in 2012, ended Pool B with 15 points and a 5-0 record earning the right to face Pool A’s fourth-place team in the quarterfinal. Dominican Republic finished Pool A with a 2-3 record and in fourth place, but remains a dangerous foe.

“They're going to be coming to get us,” Team USA captain Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) offered on Dominican Republic. “They are emotional, aggressive and physical. We're going to have to serve tough and keep the ball away from their libero (Brenda Castillo).”

The Americans are 10-4 versus the Dominicans during the current Olympic quadrennial, but several of those matches were in tournaments in which the U.S. utilized split squads such as the Pan American Cup and Pan American Games. Team USA is 3-0 against Dominican Republic in 2012 and 7-1 over the past two years. Since 1983, the U.S. has won 40 of 51 matches.

Team USA topped Dominican Republic 25-18, 25-19, 25-15 on June 10 at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as both teams fielded essentially their top players during the first round of the 2012 FIVB World Grand Prix. In the most recent matches, the U.S. rallied from two sets down to win in five during the Pan American Cup pool play on July 16, then won a four-set semifinal Pan Am Cup match on July 19. The Americans did not compete with any 2012 Olympians during the Pan Am Cup, while Dominican Republic used its primary Olympic Games roster.

"We've seen bits of them,” U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said of the impending quarterfinal match with Dominican Republic. “I know their results have been a little sporadic throughout the year, but they have a lot of experience and have weapons that can hurt you. They are all legitimate teams at the Olympic Games.”

Dominican Republic has a history of upsetting the U.S. at the Olympic Games. During the 2004 Olympic Games pool play, Dominican Republic won a marathon five-setter 26-24, 22-25, 27-25, 23-25, 19-17 in pool play in the only previous meeting between the teams at the Olympic Games.

Other quarterfinal matches will have Pool A winner Russia (15 points, 5-0) facing Pool B fourth-place Brazil (7 points, 3-2) at 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. PT), Pool B second-place China (9 points, 3-2) challenging Pool A third-place Japan (9 points, 3-2) at 1 p.m. (5 a.m. PT) and Pool A second-place Italy (13 points, 4-1) versus Pool B third-place Korea (8 points, 2-3) at 9 p.m. local time (1 p.m. PT).

Team USA, regardless of opponent on the opposite side of the net, has worked to improve on each point of the match. In the end, the Americans defeated No. 2 Brazil (3-1), No. 3 China (3-0), No. 7 Serbia (3-0), No. 8 Turkey (3-0) and No. 15 Korea (3-1) during pool play at the 2012 Olympic Games.

“We have got better with each of the five matches,” said Team USA five-time Olympian Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.).

Scott-Arruda has liked the fact Team USA has had a sizeable and very vocal following inside Earls Court from both Americans and fans of the team from other countries.

“I've played in four overseas Olympic Games and never heard such huge support from American followers in the crowd - it's given us a great lift,” Scott-Arruda said.

Team USA’s offense has been paced by three first-time Olympians. Destinee Hooker (San Antonio, Texas), who has become a dynamic and terminating opposite, leads the U.S. offense at the Olympics with 104 points on 87 kills, 14 blocks and three aces. Hooker, who is second overall in scoring, ranks second in Best Spiker with a .376 hitting efficiency (87-17-186). Meanwhile, Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) has added 60 points for 16th in overall scoring. Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.) has contributed 51 points (45 kills, 4 blocks, 2 aces) for 27th place while ranking ninth in Best Spiker with a .295 hitting efficiency. Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah), a four-time Olympian, has tacked on 48 points with a .250 hitting efficiency for 15th place.

Akinradewo leads the Best Blocker category with a 1.06 block average through five matches, while Hooker is ranks fifth with a 0.82 block average.

Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.), the starting libero, ranks third in Best Digger with a 4.36 dig average, while both Tom averages 2.47 digs for 15th place. Davis also ranks third in Best Libero with an average of 8.29 digs and excellent receptions that includes a 72.5 excellent reception percent for sixth place in Best Receiver. Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) is the fourth rated setter with a 11.29 running set average. Larson ranks seventh in Best Receiver with a 72.50 excellent reception percent.

Dominican Republic is led offensively by explosive Bethania de la Cruz, who has 67 points (58 kills, 7 blocks, 2 aces). Milagros Cabral has added 63 points (56 kill, 6 blocks, 1 ace). Priscilla Rivera attacks at a .363 hitting efficiency for third in Best Spiker. Defensively, Brenda Castillo continues to be one of the best liberos in the world as she ranks first at the Olympic Games in both Best Digger with a 6.12 dig average and Best Libero with a 9.65 average of digs and excellent receptions per set.

“We want to step onto the podium,” Dominican Republic’s Milagros Cabral said. “We know we can do it. We played well, we played at the level of this tough competition and we will give our utmost. We will face USA, one of the best teams in the world, now probably the best. We often play with them and we know them very well, since we’re from the same area, Norceca. They are a compact team, difficult to beat, but we will do our best.”

The U.S. Women are in search of its first Olympic Games gold medal after winning silver medals in 2008 in Beijing and 1984 in Los Angeles. Team USA also won the bronze in 1992 in Barcelona. Aside from the Olympics, the U.S. has not won a major season-ending tournament including the FIVB World Championship and FIVB World Cup. However, the Americans have won the FIVB World Grand Prix, the premier annual international women’s volleyball tournament, the last three years and five times overall.

2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team
# - Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
2 - Danielle Scott-Arruda (MB, 6-2, Baton Rouge, La., Long Beach State)
3 - Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Opp, 6-7, Laguna Hills, Calif., Long Beach State)
4 - Lindsey Berg (S, 5-8, Honolulu, Hawaii, Minnesota)
5 - Tamari Miyashiro (L, 5-7, Kaneohe, Hawaii, Washington)
6 - Nicole Davis (L, 5-4, Stockton, Calif., Southern California)
10 - Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., Nebraska)
11 - Megan Hodge (OH, 6-3, Durham, N.C., Penn State)
13 - Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, Hopewell, Pa., Penn State)
15 - Logan Tom (OH, 6-1, Salt Lake City, Utah, Stanford)
16 - Foluke Akinradewo (MB, 6-3, Plantation, Fla., Stanford)
17 - Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, Kent, Wash., Washington)
19 - Destinee Hooker (Opp, 6-4, San Antonio, Texas, Texas)

Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Assistant Coach: Karch Kiraly (San Clemente, Calif.)
Assistant Coach: Paula Weishoff (Irvine, Calif.)
Assistant Coach/Technical Coordinator: Jamie Morrison (Dana Point, Calif.)
Technical Coordinator: Giuseppe Vinci (Casteggio, Italy)
Team Manager: Ken Sullivan (Laguna Beach, Calif.)
Consultant Coach: Marv Dunphy (Malibu, Calif.)
Athletic Trainer/Medical Support: Jill Wosmek (Silver Lake, Minn.)
Doctor: Dr. William Stetson

2012 Olympic Games Women’s Volleyball Schedule

Pool A Standings:
Russia (14 points, 5-0)
Italy (13 points, 4-1)
Japan (9 points, 3-2)
Dominican Republic (6 points, 2-3)
Great Britain (2 points, 1-4)
Algeria (1 points, 0-5)

Pool B Standings:
USA (15 points, 5-0)
China (9 points, 3-2)
Korea (8 points, 2-3)
Brazil (7 points, 3-2)
Turkey (6 points, 2-3)
Serbia (0 points, 0-5)

July 28: Japan def. Algeria 25-15, 25-14, 25-7
July 28: China def. Serbia 16-25, 25-18, 25-13, 25-12
July 28: Russia def. Great Britain 25-19, 25-10, 25-16
July 28: Italy def. Dominican Republic 25-17, 23-25, 25-19, 25-15
July 28: USA def. Korea 25-19, 25-17, 20-25, 25-21
July 28: Brazil def. Turkey 25-18, 23-25, 25-19, 25-27, 15-12

July 30: China def. Turkey 25-20, 25-20, 29-31, 25-22
July 30: Korea def. Serbia 25-12, 25-16, 16-25, 25-21
July 30: Russia def. Dominican Republic 25-23, 25-15, 24-26, 25-22
July 30: USA def. Brazil 25-18, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21
July 30: Italy def. Japan 25-22, 25-21, 20-25, 25-22
July 30: Great Britain def. Algeria 22-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19, 15-8

Aug. 1: Japan def. Dominican Republic 25-20, 25-19, 25-23
Aug. 1: Russia def. Algeria 25-7, 25-14, 25-15
Aug. 1: Turkey def. Serbia 25-20, 25-12, 25-21
Aug. 1: Italy def. Great Britain 27-25, 25-12, 25-12
Aug. 1: USA def. China 26-24, 25-16, 31-29
Aug. 1: Korea def. Brazil 25-23, 25-21, 25-21

Aug. 3: Brazil def. China 25-16, 20-25, 25-18, 28-30, 15-10
Aug. 3: Russia def. Japan 27-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-19
Aug. 3: Turkey def. Korea 25-16, 21-25, 25-18, 19-25, 15-12
Aug. 3: Dominican Republic def. Great Britain 25-9, 25-18, 25-19
Aug. 3: USA def. Serbia 25-17, 25-20, 25-16
Aug. 3: Italy def. Algeria 25-11, 25-12, 25-17

Aug. 5: Dominican Republic def. Algeria 25-15, 25-16, 25-13
Aug. 5: China def. Korea 28-26, 22-25, 25-19, 22-25, 15-10
Aug. 5: Japan def. Great Britain 25-19, 25-14, 25-12
Aug. 5: Russia def. Italy 26-28, 25-19, 22-25, 25-16, 15-11
Aug. 5: USA def. Turkey 27-25, 25-16, 25-19
Aug. 5: Brazil def. Serbia 25-10, 25-22, 25-16

Aug. 7: Japan (Pool A3) vs. China (Pool B2), 1 p.m.
Aug. 7: Russia (Pool A1) vs. Brazil (Pool B4), 3 p.m.
Aug. 7: USA (Pool B1) vs. Dominican Republic (Pool A4), 7 p.m.
Aug. 7: Italy (Pool A2) vs. Korea (Pool B3), 9 p.m.

Aug. 9: Semifinal Matches at 3 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 11: Women’s Bronze Medal Match, 11:30 a.m.
Aug. 11: Women’s Gold Medal Match, 6:30 p.m.
Aug. 11: Women’s Gold Medal Ceremony, 8:20 p.m.