Lots on the line for U.S. Women in Hong Kong

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org | June 21, 2016, 7:27 p.m. (ET)

HONG KONG (June 22, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team, ranked No. 1 in the world by the FIVB, is on its second trip to Asia in the FIVB World Grand Prix as the Americans compete in Pool H of the preliminary round being held June 24-26 in Hong Kong.

Team USA, with a 5-1 record and 15 points, ranks third in the 12-team Group 1 field. The U.S. takes on No. 11 Germany (0-6, 0 points) on June 24 at 6:30 a.m. ET, followed by No. 14 Netherlands (4-2, 12 points) on June 25 at 1:15 am. ET and host China (6-0, 17 points) on July 26 at 3:45 a.m. ET. All three matches can be view 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. Team USA will face two Olympic-qualified teams this weekend in Netherlands and China, who are among the 12 teams which will participate at the Rio Games in August.

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

Team USA will challenge Germany for the third time in this year’s World Grand Prix as they have been paired in all three preliminary weekends. Germany is searching for its first win of the tournament. Netherlands ranks fifth in the standings with both its losses coming at the hands of undefeated Russia. The Americans last faced the Netherlands during the 2014 FIVB World Championship, which resulted in a 3-0 American victory. China, ranked No. 2 in the world, is one of two undefeated teams in the World Grand Prix and is atop the standings with a one-point edge over Russia.

After falling to No. 2 China in four sets to conclude the opening weekend in Ningbo, China, the U.S. Women regained momentum last week by winning all three matches while playing at home in Long Beach, California. Team USA defeated Germany in four sets to open Pool E, which marked the Americans’ second win over the Germans in as many weeks. The U.S. also swept Olympic-qualified Japan and No. 10 Turkey while in Long Beach.

For the third World Grand Prix weekend in a row, Team USA will have a slightly new roster look. U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly and his staff have chosen four middles, three outside hitters, three setters, two opposites and two liberos to represent Team USA as the defending FIVB World Grand Prix champions. The four middles are Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio), Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida), Alexis Crimes (Rancho Cucamonga, California) and Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania). The outside hitters are Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon), Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) and Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Illinois).

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

By adjusting rosters each World Grand Prix weekend, as well as each match through the World Grand Prix, the coaching staff has been able to evaluate players with different combinations in preparation for the Olympic Games to be held in August in Rio de Janeiro. With each match played, Kiraly and his staff have been able to get more data to make decisions on the upcoming Olympic Games roster announcement.

“I think we are moving inevitably closer, but we will not make a final decision until Monday, June 27,” Kiraly said. At that point, the nine matches of the World Grand Prix preliminary round will have been completed with just the six-team Final Round to be played July 6-10 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The top five teams in the preliminary round plus host Thailand will make up the six-team Final Round field. The U.S. can confirm its spot in the Final Round as early as the June 24 meeting with Germany. A 3-0 or 3-1 victory securing three points would put the Americans over the qualification threshold based on other results to date.

As Team USA has received a balanced offensive output through the first six matches of the World Grand Prix, the Americans do not have a single player ranked among the top 23 scorers in the tournament. Lowe is the highest scorer with 51 points for 24th place, followed by Hill with 50 points in 25th place and Robinson with 49 points for 26th place. Lowe ranks third in Best Spiker at 44.6 kill percent, while Robinson is 14th in Best Spiker with a 36.5 kill percent. Glass is second in Best Setter at 4.05 running sets per set average. Dietzen ranks fourth in blocking with a 0.70 block average per set. Adams is sixth in Best Server with 0.35 aces per set. Banwarth has recorded 2.25 digs per set for sixth in Best Digger. Larson ranks fourth in Best Receiver with a 49.0 efficiency percent, while Robinson is sixth in the category with a 43.1 efficiency percent.

2016 FIVB World Grand Prix Weekend 2 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)
13 – Christa Dietzen (M, 6-2, Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania, Penn State University)
14 – Nicole Fawcett (OPP, 6-4, Zanesfield, Ohio, 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)
20 – Alexis Crimes (M, 6-3, Rancho Cucamonga, California, Long Beach State University)
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
Doctor: Bill Briner
Team Manager: James 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 (all times local)
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 (all times local)
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 (all times local)
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 (Pacific Time/Eastern Time)
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
June 19: Japan def. Germany 25-27, 26-24, 25-15, 25-18
June 19: USA def. Turkey 25-21, 25-20, 25-16

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 (all times local)
June 24: Turkey vs. Belgium, 5 p.m.
June 24: Italy vs. Brazil, 8 p.m.
June 25: Turkey vs. Italy, 5 p.m.
June 25: Brazil vs. Belgium, 8 p.m.
June 26: Italy vs. Belgium, 5 p.m.
June 26: Turkey vs. Brazil, 8 p.m.

Pool H: June 24-26 at Hong Kong (all times local/Eastern Time)
June 24: USA vs. Germany, 6:30 p.m. local/6:30 a.m. ET (TV: UniHD at 7 p.m. ET, Live Stream)
June 24: China vs. Netherlands, 8:30 p.m.
June 25: USA vs. Netherlands, 1:15 p.m. local/1:15 a.m. ET (TV: UniHD at 7 p.m. ET, Live Stream)
June 25: China vs. Germany, 3:45 p.m.
June 26: Netherlands vs. Germany, 1:15 p.m.
June 26: USA vs. China, 3:45 p.m. local/3:45 a.m. ET (TV: UniHD at 5 p.m. ET, Live Stream)

Pool I: June 24-26 at Kyoto, Japan (all times local)
June 24: Serbia vs. Russia, 4:10 p.m.
June 24: Japan vs. Thailand, 7:10 p.m.
June 25: Thailand vs. Russia, 4:10 p.m.
June 25: Japan vs. Serbia, 7:10 p.m.
June 26: Serbia vs. Thailand, 4:10 p.m.
June 26: Japan vs. Russia, 7:10 p.m.

FIVB World Grand Prix Finals: July 6-10 at Bangkok, Thailand
Top 5 Ranked Teams in Preliminary Round + Host Thailand