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Confidence Builds for U.S. Heading to Grand Prix

By Bill Kauffman | July 22, 2014, 10:09 a.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 21, 2014) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, ranked second in the world, picked up a large dose of confidence with a young cast of players heading into the 2014 FIVB World Grand Prix.

Team USA won all four matches of the USA Volleyball Cup over No. 1 and two-time defending Olympic Games champion Brazil, which suited up eight Olympians to the Americans’ four. USA head coach Karch Kiraly had 15 players make at least one start and played 16 total players in the four-match series that took place July 5-12 in Southern California and Honolulu.

The Americans’ success against Brazil using a different starting lineup each match helped to fast-track the young team’s development heading into the premier annual women’s international volleyball tournament. Team USA’s nine-match schedule in the 2014 FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary round has a 6.44 average world ranking, highlighted by two additional matches against Brazil, a single match against No. 3 Japan and two matches against No. 6 Russia.

“We are always happy to get a win against Brazil,” U.S. setter Alisha Glass said following the USA Volleyball Cup. “They are definitely a really tough team to play. I know regardless of our outcome (in the USA Volleyball Cup), they are going to come at us the next time we play them. We are excited for that battle in the future. We are just learning, every match one at a time.”

In the opening FIVB World Grand Prix weekend in Ankara, Turkey, the Americans face Russia on Aug. 1, followed by host Turkey on Aug. 2 and Japan on Aug. 3.

In the second preliminary weekend, Team USA travels to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to face Russia on Aug. 8, Korea on Aug. 9 and Brazil on Aug. 10.

The Americans conclude the preliminary phase in Bangkok, Thailand, with a second straight match against Brazil on Aug. 15, followed by host Thailand on Aug. 16 and NORCECA rival Dominican Republic on Aug. 17.

With a new format and a record 28 teams participating in the FIVB World Grand Prix in 2014, a three-tier formula is in place for access into the Final Round. The top tier has 12 teams including Team USA, and the top four teams following the three preliminary round weekends advance to the Final Round along with Japan as the host country. The second-tier winner will also advance to the six-team Final Round, which takes place in Tokyo.

Kiraly has selected his 22-player preliminary roster for the FIVB World Grand Prix, for which 14 players will travel to each preliminary weekend with 14 players suiting per match. The travel roster can change each week, provided the players were on the preliminary roster.

  • Setters: Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.), Jenna Hagglund (West Chester, Ohio), Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, Calif.), Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.)
  • Liberos: Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa), Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.), Tama Miyashiro (Kaneohe, Hawaii)
  • Outside Hitters: Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah), Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.), Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb.), Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, Calif.), Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Ill.)
  • Middle Blockers: Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio), Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.), Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minn.), Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.), Christa Harmotto (Hopewell Township, Pa.), Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
  • Opposites: Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio), Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.), Bailey Webster (Baltimore, Md.).

Glass (Leland, Mich.), the 2013 USA Volleyball Female Indoor Player of the Year, started three of the four USA Volleyball Cup matches was the only U.S. player competing in all 18 sets. Several young players seeing their first their first action against Brazil at the senior level played key roles in the series. Robinson, in her first season of international competition, had a team-high 59 points in the series with averages of 4.54 points, 3.77 kills, 0.54 blocks and 0.23 aces. She added a 1.77 dig average providing a complete package.

Murphy had a team-leading 4.64 points per set during the USA Volleyball Cup that was part of 51 points in 11 sets. Of note, Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) made her first international appearance since the 2012 Olympic Games and kicked in 32 points (26 kills, 4 blocks, 2 aces) in nine sets. Larson-Burbach contributed 27 points in 11 sets. Overall, 11 the 16 U.S. players inserted into the USA Volleyball Cup scored at least 19 points in the four-match series.

Davis, a two-time Olympian, provided 24 digs in nine sets with one match start at libero. Banwarth, the 2013 USAV Female Indoor Most Improved Player, was the starting libero in three of the four matches and provided 24 digs in 11 sets.

“I am really proud of this team and the way we battled,” Glass said. “Every match presented different issues, different problems that we worked through. We grinded it out. Everybody had their hand in it, everybody had their fingerprint in it. I am so proud to have USA on my back and play with this group of players.”

Also making their first-ever appearances against Brazil were Dixon and Klineman, who recently made a switch from outside hitter. Dixon scored 12 points, including six blocks, in six sets of action. Klineman led Team USA in the second match of the series with 19 points.

“We are really proud with the kind of battle we had, especially the last two matches in Hawaii – really tough fights going five games using different combinations of people,” Kiraly said. “We feel comfortable and got lots of experience for many of our athletes, including some young players like Kelsey Robinson, Tori Dixon and others. We have great trust in our players, and they have trust in each other - which is a wonderful asset to have for this program.”

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for USA Volleyball Cup (see legend for corresponding matches)
# - Name (Position, Ht, Hometown, College)
1 – Alisha Glass (S, 6-0, Leland, Mich., Penn State)
2 – Kayla Banwarth (L, 5-10, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
3 – Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, Kent, Wash., University of Washington)
4 – Lauren Paolini (MB, 6-4, Ann Arbor, Mich., University of Texas)
5 – Tama Miyashiro (L, 5-7, Kaneohe, Hawaii, University of Washington)
6 – Nicole Davis (L, 5-4, Stockton, Calif., University of Southern California)
7 – Cassidy Lichtman (OH, 6-1, Poway, Calif., Stanford University)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (MB, 6-2, St. Paul, Minn., University of Minnesota)
9 – Kristin Hildebrand (OH, 6-1, Orem, Utah, Stanford University)
10 – Jordan Larson-Burbach (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., University of Nebraska)
11 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, Bonsall, Calif., University of California-Berkeley)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Wilmington, Ill., University of Florida)
13 – Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, Hopewell Township, Pa., Penn State)
14 – Nicole Fawcett (OPP, 6-4, Zanesfield, Ohio, Penn State)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Portland, Ore., Pepperdine University)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (MB, 6-3, Plantation, Fla., Stanford University)
17 – Alix Klineman (OPP, 6-5, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Stanford University)
18 – Bailey Webster (OPP, 6-3, Baltimore, Md., University of Texas)
19 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Bartlett, Ill., University of Nebraska)
20 – Jenna Hagglund (S, 5-10, West Chester, Ohio, University of Washington)
21 – Tori Dixon (MB, 6-3, Burnsville, Minn., University of Minnesota)
22 – Rachael Adams (MB, 6-2, Cincinnati, Ohio, University of Texas)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Jamie Morrison, Tom Black
Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek
Team Manager: John Xie/Jamison Van Niel

2014 FIVB World Grand Prix Schedule (1st Group)

Pool A (at Ankara, Turkey)
Aug. 1: USA vs. Russia, 6 a.m. PT
Aug. 1: Turkey vs. Japan, 9 a.m. PT
Aug. 2: Russia vs. Japan, 6 a.m. PT
Aug. 2: USA vs. Turkey, 9 a.m. PT
Aug. 3: USA vs. Japan, 6 a.m.
Aug. 3: Russia vs. Turkey, 9 a.m.

Pool B (at Ansan, Korea)
Aug. 1: Serbia vs. Germany, 9:40 p.m. PT on July 31
Aug. 1: Korea vs. Thailand, 12:10 a.m. PT
Aug. 2: Korea vs. Germany, 10:10 p.m. PT on Aug. 1
Aug. 2: Serbia vs. Thailand, 1:40 a.m. PT
Aug. 3: Korea vs. Serbia, 10:10 p.m. PT on Aug. 2
Aug. 3: Thailand vs. Germany, 1:40 a.m. PT

Pool C (at Sassari, Italy)
Aug. 1: Brazil vs. China, 8:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 1: Italy vs. Dominican Republic, 11 a.m. PT
Aug. 2: China vs. Dominican Republic, 8:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 2: Brazil vs. Italy, 11 a.m. PT
Aug. 3: Brazil vs. Dominican Republic, 8:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 3: Italy vs. China, 11 a.m. PT

Pool D (at Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Aug. 8: USA vs. Russia, 8 a.m. PT
Aug. 8: Brazil vs. Korea, 11:45 a.m. PT
Aug. 9: Brazil vs. Russia, 7 a.m. PT
Aug. 9: USA vs. Korea, 9:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 10: USA vs. Brazil, 7 a.m. PT
Aug. 10: Russia vs. Korea, 9:30 a.m. PT

Pool E (at Ankara, Turkey)
Aug. 8: Serbia vs. Germany, 6 a.m. PT
Aug. 8: Turkey vs. Dominican Republic, 9 a.m. PT
Aug. 9: Germany vs. Dominican Republic, 6 a.m. PT
Aug. 9: Turkey vs. Serbia, 9 a.m. PT
Aug. 10: Dominican Republic vs. Serbia, 6 a.m. PT
Aug. 10: Turkey vs. Germany, 9 a.m. PT

Pool F (at Hong Kong)
Aug. 8: Japan vs. Italy, 3:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 8: China vs. Thailand, 5:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 9: Italy vs. Thailand, 10:15 p.m. PT on Aug. 8
Aug. 9: China vs. Japan, 12:45 a.m. PT
Aug. 10: Japan vs. Thailand, 10:15 p.m. PT on Aug. 9
Aug. 10: China vs. Italy, 12:45 a.m. PT

Pool G (at Bangkok, Thailand)
Aug. 15: Thailand vs. Dominican Republic, 2 a.m. PT
Aug. 15: USA vs. Brazil, 4:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 16: Brazil vs. Dominican Republic, midnight PT
Aug. 16: USA vs. Thailand, 2:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 17: USA vs. Dominican Republic, midnight PT
Aug. 17: Thailand vs. Brazil, 2:30 a.m. PT

Pool H (at Kaliningrad, Russia)
Aug. 15: Turkey vs. Germany, 6:40 a.m. PT
Aug. 15: Russia vs. Italy, 10:10 a.m. PT
Aug. 16: Italy vs. Germany, 6:40 a.m. PT
Aug. 16: Russia vs. Turkey, 10:10 a.m. PT
Aug. 17: Italy vs. Turkey, 6:40 a.m. PT
Aug. 17: Germany vs. Russia, 10:10 a.m. PT/p>

Pool I (at Macau, China)
Aug. 15: Japan vs. Serbia, 2 a.m. PT
Aug. 15: China vs. Korea, 5:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 16: Japan vs. Korea, 11:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 15
Aug. 16: China vs. Serbia, 2 a.m. PT
Aug. 17: Korea vs. Serbia, 10 p.m. PT on Aug. 16
Aug. 17: China vs. Japan, 12:30 a.m. PT