China to Face U.S. Women in USAV Cup

Feb. 02, 2015, 12:25 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 2, 2015) – For the third consecutive year, the USA Volleyball Cup will bring in a top-tier opponent as No. 3 China has agreed to play in the 2015 event against the No. 1 U.S. Women’s National Team.

The four-match series is scheduled to take place in early June. The series starts in Honolulu with matches on June 5-6 at the Stan Sheriff Center on the University of Hawaii campus. The Cup shifts to Southern California for the final two matches, which will be held between June 9-11 at sites to be announced.

“We’re thrilled to bring the Chinese Women’s Team here to compete in 2015,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “They’re a strong young team, and we had a battle that tested both teams, in the gold medal match of 2014 FIVB World Championships. As Josh Waitzkin said in The Art of Learning, ‘There is nothing like a worthy opponent to show us our weaknesses and push us to our limit.’ China, with former USA head coach Lang Ping at its helm, is certainly that worthy opponent.”

Christa Dietzen, captain of Team USA that won the World Championship last fall over China, added: “I think it is wonderful for our sport to play China in this year's USA Volleyball Cup. One of the main purposes of hosting these USA Volleyball Cups is to have the opportunity to play the top teams in the world and that makes us better. But it also allows us to display our level of talent, which is among the best in the world, to our fans here in the United States.”

Related Event: 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round in Omaha, Neb.

The Team USA-China clash sets up many interesting side stories for two of the world powers of the last four decades.

  • The series is a rematch of 2014 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship gold-medal match in which the U.S. defeated China 3-1. Kiraly became only the fourth person to win a gold medal as a player and coach at the World Championship. China’s head coach Jenny Lang Ping, the only female head coach of a national team in the top 20 teams in the world, was trying to accomplish the same feat.
  • Both the U.S. and China squads are young in comparison to most national teams, yet ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the world. At the 2014 FIVB World Championship, Team USA had an average age of 26 with five players in either their first or second years playing on the National Team. Kim Hill, who came out of an open tryout in 2013 to make the National Team, was selected most valuable player of the World Championship. China was even younger with an average age of 23, including star player Ting Zhu at age 20.
  • Lang Ping led the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team from 2005-2008, including leading Team USA to a silver medal finish in her home country at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
  • U.S. Women lost to China in the 1984 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles and 31 years later the two teams will again meet in the Los Angeles area.
  • Kiraly and Lang Ping won gold medals at the 1984 Olympic Games for their respective countries on the men’s and women’s side – 30 years before reuniting on the volleyball court as coaches for their respective teams playing for the 2014 FIVB World Championship gold medal.
  • China played the U.S. in Hawaii during a preliminary round of the 1995 FIVB World Grand Prix, and this marks their first return to the United States since the 1996 Olympic Games as Lang Ping served as coach of the team that won the silver medal. In those same 1996 Olympic Games, Karch Kiraly was on his way to winning the inaugural beach volleyball Olympic Games gold medal.
  • Both Kiraly and Lang Ping are inductees into the International Volleyball Hall of Fame.

“It is a special honor to participate in the 2015 USA Volleyball Cup, and even more so this year as we will be competing alongside the 2014 USA Women’s FIVB World Champions!” Lang Ping said. “This is a great opportunity to develop our young players.

The 2015 USA Volleyball Cup will serve both teams as a preparation event for the FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary rounds. The U.S. and China will meet in the final preliminary round match on July 18 in Hong Kong. While Team USA has already qualified for the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round as the host of the event held July 22-26 in Omaha, Neb., China must finish among the top five teams in the nine-match preliminary round to advance to the Final Round.

“We hope the USA Volleyball Cup continues to grow the game here in the United States and bringing in teams like China, Brazil and Japan helps accomplish this goal,” Dietzen said. “Hopefully we can spark additional interest for future generations to be able to watch more events here in the USA such as the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Rounds that we are very excited to host in Nebraska this July. In the future we would also love to host a FIVB World Championship, a FIVB World Cup and other major international tournaments that we always have to travel to and share that experience with our fans in the United States.”

“Under the leadership of Coach Kiraly, the USA Women’s team has progressed tremendously in terms of technical skills and playing strategies,” Lang Ping said. “The team has a good balance between offense and defense, with additional quick attack on both sides. With the new additions on the U.S. team, we surely believe they are on the right track to become the next volleyball stars. We would love to learn from and share our advance techniques and strategies with each other, while presenting exciting games to the fans.”

The USA Volleyball Cup was launched in 2013 as Japan played Team USA in three matches in Southern California. Last year, the U.S. defeated then-No. 1 Brazil in all four matches of the USA Volleyball Cup with two matches played in Southern California and two in Hawaii. To date, the American women are 7-0 in USA Volleyball Cup matches against teams all ranked currently in the top four in the world. The USA Volleyball Cup held its first men’s event in 2014 as the U.S. Men hosted Iran in a four-match series in Southern California with a worldwide audience either watching in the stands or on live video stream.

In the 2014 USA Volleyball Cup, USA and Brazil drew 11,000 fans for their two matches in Hawaii after drawing 8,400 fans for two matches in Southern California.

The City of Anaheim is the Official Host City for the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Volleyball Teams where the teams train at the American Sports Centers. The USA Volleyball Cup was launched as an initiative to draw elite teams to the United States to compete in an annual tour series with the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Volleyball Teams. Such events help foster local community ties to the two National Team programs and the City of Anaheim.