Grand Prix Finals Preview: U.S. Aims for 7th Title

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | July 04, 2016, 12:40 p.m. (ET)

BANGKOK, Thailand (July 4, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team is on a quest to get better with each and every point in preparation for the Olympic Games, and that could lead to a seventh FIVB World Grand Prix title as the Americans take part in the Final Round July 6-10 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The World Grand Prix Final Round consists of the top five teams through the preliminary round, plus host Thailand. The U.S., ranked number-one in the world, finished the nine-match preliminary stage in first place with an 8-1 record and 24 points, including a convincing three-set win over second-ranked China in the final match in Hong Kong on June 26. China and Russia, both 8-1 through the preliminary round, are seeded second and third in the Finals phase. The fourth seed goes to Brazil at 7-2 in the preliminary round, followed by Netherlands at 5-4. Host Thailand was 2-7 in the preliminary phase.

Related: U.S. Women's National Team Home Page | FIVB World Grand Prix

Team USA, the defending World Grand Prix champions, opens the six-team Finals week on July 6 against Netherlands at 4 a.m. ET. After an off-day in the three-team pool play, the Americans face second-ranked China on July 8 at 4 a.m. ET. Brazil, Russia and host Thailand comprise the opposite three-team pool.

The top two teams in pool play advance to the crossover semifinals on July 9. The Finals Round concludes on July 10 with the medal round matches and the fifth-place match between the pool’s two third-place teams.

All USA matches during the FIVB World Grand Prix Finals can be watched live online on NBC Sports Live Extra).

The World Grand Prix is the premier annual international women’s volleyball tournament. This year it serves as the last major event for teams qualified to the 2016 Olympic Games to fine tune their systems. All but Thailand competing in the World Grand Prix Finals have qualified for the Olympic Games next month.

For the Finals Round, U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly and his staff have chosen three middles, four outside hitters, three setters, two opposites and two liberos to represent Team USA. The three middles are Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio), Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida) and Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania). The outside hitters are Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Illinois), Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon), Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) and Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Illinois).

The three setters chosen for the World Grand Prix Finals roster are Alisha Glass (Leland, Michigan), Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) and Courtney Thompson (Kent, Washington). The two opposites are Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois). Liberos selected for the roster are Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) and Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, California).

Through the FIVB World Grand Prix’s nine preliminary round matches, Team USA did not have anyone in the top 15 in scoring partly due to the fact the Americans shifted their lineup frequently over the course of the three weekends. However, the Americans’ success during the nine matches largely was due to its passing with three players ranking in the top six in the Best Receiver category. Larson ranked second with a 51.2 efficiency percent, while Robinson and Hill ranked fifth and sixth respectively with 43.3 and 42.9 efficiencies.

Hill led the U.S. in scoring during the preliminary round with 87 total points, but no other American was in the top 22 spots. Hill also ranked fourth in Best Spiker with a 42.0 kill percent (68-of-162). Larson totaled 77 points for 23rd overall in scoring. Glass has been credited with a 4.57 running set average in the preliminary round for third in Best Setter. Dietzen provided the Americans 18 blocks in the preliminary round for a 0.60 set average and seventh in the Best Blocker category. Adams finished the preliminary round ranked sixth in serving with a 0.30 ace average, which was matched by Hill.

2016 FIVB World Grand Prix Finals Round Roster
# - Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1 – Alisha Glass (S, 6-0, Leland, Michigan, Penn State University)
2 – Kayla Banwarth (L, 5-10, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
3 – Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, Kent, Washington, University of Washington)
5 – Rachael Adams (M, 6-2, Cincinnati, Ohio, University of Texas)
6 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, Bonsall, California, University of California-Berkeley)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Nebraska, University of Nebraska)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Wilmington, Illinois, University of Florida)
13 – Christa Dietzen (M, 6-2, Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania, Penn State University)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Portland, Oregon, Pepperdine University)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (M, 6-3, Plantation, Florida, Stanford University)
17 – Natalie Hagglund (L, 5-9, Encinitas, California, University of Southern California)
19 – Michelle Bartsch (OH, 6-3, Maryville, Illinois, University of Illinois)
23 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Bartlett, Illinois, University of Nebraska)
25 – Karsta Lowe (OPP, 6-4, Rancho Santa Fe, California, UCLA)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Jamie Morrison, Tom Black
Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey
Consultant Coach: David Hunt
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek
Strength Coach: James Stitz
Doctor: Lori Boyijian
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz

2016 FIVB World Grand Prix Preliminary Round Weekends

Latest Group 1 Standings

All matches are live streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra

Pool A: June 10-12 at Ningbo, China 
June 10: USA def. Germany, 25-15, 25-17, 25-12 (Watch Replay)
June 10: China def. Thailand 25-14, 25-14, 25-11
June 11: USA def. Thailand 25-21, 29-27, 25-23 (Watch Replay)
June 11: China def. Germany 25-12, 25-22, 25-16
June 12: Thailand def. Germany 16-25, 28-26, 25-22, 25-16
June 12: June 12: China def. USA 25-20, 25-19, 15-25, 25-23 (Watch Replay)

Pool B: June 9-12 at Rio de Janeiro
June 9: Brazil def. Italy 23-25, 25-15, 25-15, 27-25
June 9: Japan def. Serbia 31-29, 25-18, 28-26
June 10: Brazil def. Japan 25-20, 25-23, 25-15
June 10: Italy def. Serbia 25-16, 25-19, 29-31, 25-17
June 12: Brazil def. Serbia 25-20, 25-18, 25-18
June 12: Italy def. Japan 25-20, 25-20, 23-25, 25-27, 15-8

Pool C: June 10-12 at Kaliningrad, Russia
June 10: Turkey def. Belgium 25-22, 25-23, 26-24
June 10: Russia def. Netherlands 25-22, 20-25, 25-20, 25-16
June 11: Netherlands def. Turkey 27-25, 25-21, 25-22
June 11: Russia def. Belgium 25-20, 25-15, 25-16
June 12: Netherlands def. Belgium 25-20, 25-21, 18-25, 25-20
June 12: Russia def. Turkey 26-24, 20-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-10

Pool D: June 17-19 at Macau, China
June 17: Serbia def. Brazil 16-25, 29-31, 25-19, 25-19, 18-16
June 17: China def. Belgium 25-19, 25-17, 25-22
June 18: Brazil def. Belgium 23-25, 25-19, 25-15, 25-18
June 18: China def. Serbia 27-25, 17-25, 20-25, 25-22, 15-9
June 19: Serbia def. Belgium 24-26, 26-24, 25-23, 23-25, 15-10
June 19: China def. Brazil 25-23, 25-16, 25-20

Pool E: June 17-19 at Long Beach, California
June 17: Turkey def. Japan 21-25, 25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 15-13
June 17: USA def. Germany 25-17, 24-26, 25-10, 25-23 (Watch Replay)
June 18: Turkey def. Germany 25-18, 16-25, 25-19, 25-19
June 18: USA def. Japan 25-16, 25-23, 25-21 (Watch Replay)
June 19: Japan def. Germany 25-27, 26-24, 25-15, 25-18
June 19: USA def. Turkey 25-21, 25-20, 25-16 (Watch Replay)

Pool F: June 17-19 at Bari, Italy (all times local)
June 17: Russia def. Netherlands 25-17, 25-23, 28-26
June 17: Thailand def. Italy 25-20, 23-25, 25-23, 19-25, 15-11
June 18: Russia def. Thailand 25-22, 25-22, 25-13
June 18: Netherlands def. Italy 19-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-22
June 19: Netherlands def. Thailand 25-19, 25-16, 25-21
June 19: Russia def. Italy 19-25, 25-15, 25-22, 22-25, 15-10

Pool G: June 24-26 at Ankara, Turkey
June 24: Brazil def. Italy 24-26, 25-22, 25-13, 25-22
June 24: Belgium def. Turkey 25-18, 25-14, 19-25, 25-21
June 25: Italy def. Turkey 21-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-17
June 25: Brazil def. Belgium 13-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-18
June 26: Italy def. Belgium 25-14, 25-12, 25-21
June 26: Brazil def. Turkey 25-14, 25-21, 25-19

Pool H: June 24-26 at Hong Kong
June 24: USA def. Germany 25-19, 25-22, 30-28 (Watch Replay)
June 24: China def. Netherlands 25-22, 25-23, 25-21
June 25: USA def. Netherlands 25-17, 19-25, 25-17, 25-20 (Watch Replay)
June 25: China def. Germany 25-13, 25-16, 25-22
June 26: Netherlands def. Germany 26-24, 25-20, 25-22
June 26: USA def. China 25-19, 25-21, 25-17 (Watch Replay)

Pool I: June 24-26 at Kyoto, Japan (all times local)
June 24: Serbia def. Russia 23-25, 25-27, 25-21, 25-20, 15-12
June 24: Japan def. Thailand 25-20, 25-19, 25-15
June 25: Russia def. Thailand 25-16, 25-22, 22-25, 25-12
June 25: Serbia def. Japan 25-23, 20-25, 17-25, 27-25, 15-8
June 26: Serbia def. Thailand 25-18, 25-20, 25-20
June 26: Russia def. Japan 20-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-20

FIVB World Grand Prix Finals: July 6-10 at Bangkok, Thailand (all times Eastern)
July 6: USA vs. Netherlands, 4 a.m. ET (Watch)
July 6: Brazil vs. Thailand, 7 a.m. ET
July 7: China vs. Netherlands, 4 a.m. ET
July 7: Russia vs. Brazil, 7 a.m. ET
July 8: USA vs. China, 4 a.m. ET (Watch)
July 8: Russia vs. Thailand, 7 a.m. ET
July 9: Semifinal 1, 4 a.m. ET
July 9: Semifinal 2, 7 a.m. ET
July 10: 5th-Place Match, 1 a.m. ET
July 10: Bronze-Medal Match, 4 a.m. ET
July 10: Gold-Medal Match, 7 a.m. ET