USAV Cup with China Shifts to California Tied

By Bill Kauffman | June 08, 2015, 10:04 p.m. (ET)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (June 8, 2015) – The USA Volleyball Cup shifts from Honolulu to Southern California this week after the U.S. Women’s National Team and China traded 3-0 victories last weekend.

The two teams, representing a rematch of the 2014 FIVB World Championship gold-medal match in which the U.S. won 3-1 last October, will travel to Irvine for a June 9 match at the Bren Center followed by a June 12 match at Cal State San Bernardino. Both matches are set for 7 p.m. PT and will have live video stream. For ticket information, visit usavolleyballcup.com.

“We love playing here for sure,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “It is great for lots of players to have their families, to have friends around to cheer them on and playing in familiar confines such as UCI’s Bren Center where we played Brazil last year. It is really nice to get the rare treat of playing not only in our home country, but our home county where we can have some of our most ardent fans and the people who have the most contact with us actually come out and watch some world-class competition.”

Related: USA Volleyball Cup Page | USA def China (June 5) | China def USA (June 6)

Team USA, ranked No. 1 in the world, won the opening match 25-22, 25-15, 25-22 on Friday. However, No. 3 China came back to win the second night 25-21, 25-23, 25-12 as both teams made significant changes to their starting lineups.

“China’s changes made more difference than our changes,” Kiraly said in regards to reversal of match scores from Friday to Saturday night in Honolulu. “I thought our middles did a nice job. We brought in Cursty Jackson and Tori Dixon and they attacked pretty well. However, China’s serving and passing was stabilized, especially with No. 2 Ting Zhu in the lineup. I think we had a little trouble with that. The serve-receive battle, they absolutely won it today just as we clearly won it yesterday.”

Kiraly feels his team took away a lot from both matches against China last week, particularly from Saturday’s match in which the Americans lost 3-0. The setback was Team USA’s first in eight USA Volleyball Cup matches that has involved Japan in 2013 (3-0) and two-time defending Olympic Games champion Brazil in 2014 (4-0).

“I think the thing we have the best opportunity to get better at from last Saturday to Tuesday’s match is generating a better response when China came at us hard and beat us in the first two,” Kiraly said. “We did not have a very strong and resilient response to them in the third set. They beat us like a drum. We need to be stronger. I don’t mind being down 3-0. I think it is a great opportunity for us to face some adversity and to put everything we have in it to fight to get back.”

Kiraly and his staff will have a slightly different 14-player roster that will take the court in Irvine compared to who was in Honolulu. Middle blocker Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pa.), opposite Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) and setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, Ohio) have earned spots on the July 9 roster taking the place of outside hitter Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb.), setter Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) and middle blocker Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles).

“We will have a different starting lineup for the UCI match, and likely for the Cal State San Bernardino match because we get to learn a lot,” Kiraly said. “It was really valuable to play so many different people last year in USA Volleyball Cup – it made us better at World Championship last year by playing Brazil with four different lineups and we are doing that against China.

Others set to play for Team USA on Tuesday are middle blockers Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.), Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minn.) and Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.); opposites Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.), Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.); outside hitters Megan Easy (Durham, N.C.), Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.) and Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Ill.); setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) and liberos Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) and Tama Miyashiro (Kaneohe, Hawaii).

“I am really excited,” Dietzen said. “This is my first USA Volleyball Cup experience. In 2013, I played in Nebraska (with Team USA in NORCECA Championship) and it was the first time playing in the USA since 2009 (Pan American Cup in Miami). It is interesting because at first you are like, wow they are actually pulling for us, whereas we go to all these countries and usually it is us against the world.”

Dietzen and the rest of Team USA is looking forward to hearing that pro-American crowd this week. “We have had a great turnout the past two USA Volleyball Cups that I have witnessed, and the U.S. Men had a great turn out this past weekend (in FIVB World League). We are really excited to show our country what we can do on the volleyball court and ultimately grow the game. The more fans we get, the more word gets out.”

“Any time we step out on the court with the uniform on it is an opportunity to test what we have worked on,” Dietzen said. “These matches are great learning opportunities especially early on in the season. I thought we learned a ton from World Grand Prix last year and made big adjustments in a short period of time to prepare for the World Championship. We had some people change to jump floats and we upgraded a few things with our game.”

China, which will have the same 14-player roster as in the first two USA Volleyball Cup matches in Hawaii, has been a great barometer for Team USA.

“I think we are collecting a ton of information by playing one of the top teams in the world,” Dietzen said. “They are pushing us and we are figuring how to push them. It is a win-win for us and China to be able to compete at such a high level so early in the season. It will propel and prepare us and China for the rest of the season and what is to come.”

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster of USA Volleyball Cup Matches on June 5-6
# - Name (Position, Ht, Hometown, College)
2 – Kayla Banwarth (L, 5-10, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
5 – Tama Miyashiro (L, 5-7, Kaneohe, Hawaii, University of Washington)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (MB, 6-2, St. Paul, Minn., University of Minnesota)
11 – Megan Hodge Easy (OH, 6-3, Durham, N.C., Penn State University)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Wilmington, Ill., University of Florida)
13 – Christa Dietzen (MB, 6-2, Hopewell Township, Pa., Penn State University)
14 – Nicole Fawcett (OPP, 6-4, Zanesfield, Ohio, Penn State University)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Portland, Ore., Pepperdine University)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (MB, 6-3, Plantation, Fla., Stanford University)
19 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Bartlett, Ill., University of Nebraska)
21 – Tori Dixon (MB, 6-3, Burnsville, Minn., University of Minnesota)
23 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, Bonsall, Calif., University of California-Berkeley)
25 – Karsta Lowe (OPP, 6-4, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., UCLA)
31 – Molly Kreklow (S, 6-0, Delano, Minn., University of Missouri)

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

# - Last Name First Name (Position, Ht, World Championship Matches, Olympic Games Matches)

1 – Yuan Xinyue (MB, 199cm, 13, 0)
2 – Zhu Ting (OH, 195cm, 13, 0)
3 – Yang Fangxu (OPP, 190cm, 13, 0)
5 – Shen Jingsi (S, 186cm, 20, 0)
6 - Yang Junjing (MB, 190cm, 13, 5)
8 – Zeng Chunlei (OPP, 187cm, 13, 5)
9 – Zhang Changning (OH, 193cm, 0, 0)
10 – Shan Danna (OH, 168cm, 13, 5)
11 – Zhang Xiaoya (MB, 189cm, 0, 0)
12 - Ruoqi Hui (OH, 192cm, 13, 0)
15 – Lin Li (L, 171cm, 0, 0)
16 – Ding Xia (S, 180cm, 0, 0)
17 – Yan Ni (MB, 192cm, 0, 0)
19 – Liu Yanhan (OH, 188cm, 0, 0)

Head Coach: Lang Ping
Assistant Coaches: An Jiajie, Lai Yawen, Bao Zhuang, Wu Xiaolei
Physiotherapist: Hsu Brittni
Doctor: Wang Kai
Team Manager: Lai Yawen