U.S. Women Set Roster for Tokyo Qualifier

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | July 26, 2019, 8 p.m. (ET)

U.S. Women's National Team celebrating victory at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League
U.S. Women's National Team celebrating victory at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 26, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Team, ranked No. 3 in the world by the FIVB, have set its 13-player roster that will work to secure its 2020 Olympic Games berth at the 2019 Tokyo Women’s Volleyball Qualification Tournament being held Aug. 2-4 in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana.

For the Olympic qualifying tournament, U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly and his staff have selected four outside hitters, four middles, two opposites, two setters and two liberos for the four-team round-robin Pool C.

Team USA will face Kazakhstan on Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. CT, followed by Bulgaria on Aug. 3 at 5 p.m. CT and Argentina on Aug. 4 at 1 p.m. CT.

  • Aug. 2: USA vs. Kazakhstan, 6 p.m. (live on Olympic Channel)
  • Aug. 3: USA vs. Bulgaria, 5 p.m. (live on Olympic Channel)
  • Aug. 4: USA vs. Argentina, 1 p.m. (live on NBC)
 

The Tokyo Women’s Volleyball Qualification Tournament includes six pools of four team being staged in a round-robin format Aug. 2-4. The top 24 ranked teams, minus 2020 Olympic Games host Japan, are placed into the six pools using the serpentine system with pool winners claiming berths into the 2020 Olympics along with host Japan. The final five spots into the 2020 Olympics will be determined in early January through the five confederation zonal championships.

“It truly is a privilege and an honor to be playing for an Olympic berth inside our own country, so we’re super-pumped to play in Shreveport,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “We are not taking anything for granted, or thinking that any opponent is less of a threat than others. Instead, we’re focusing all of our efforts into winning the first point of the tournament. Then we’ll reset, and focus on the next point. We are treating each of our three opponents with the utmost respect – Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Argentina.”

The matches are being held at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, La. Tickets can be purchased online at go.usav.org/wqualtix. For group ticket information and other tournament information, click here.

Team USA has not faced Kazakhstan since 2014, while the Americans have seen both Bulgaria and Argentina in recent years. USA is 6-0 all-time against Kazakhstan, 14-1 versus Bulgaria and 21-0 against Argentina.

“We haven’t faced Kazakhstan in several years, so we have extra preparation homework to do,” Kiraly said. “Bulgaria has a couple of pin hitters who can be very tough to stop. We played them on their home court in Week One of Volleyball Nations League during May, where they put up strong resistance, and we're expecting them to have a roster that is stronger than the one we saw then. And Argentina is traditionally one of the two best teams in South America.”

The U.S. is coming off its second consecutive FIVB Volleyball Nations League title, along with gold in the Pan American Cup. The Americans finished the 2019 VNL with a 16-3 record and rallied from two sets down to defeat Brazil in the gold-medal match on July 7 in Nanjing, China. Along with the title, Team USA captured the $1 million top prize.

“Our USA Women’s National Team has competed in two tournaments this season, Volleyball Nations League and Pan Am Cup,” Kiraly said. “Our people notched strong performances in both of those tournaments, winning the gold medal down in Peru at Pan Am Cup and also winning gold at Volleyball Nations League in China. But those gold medals mean very little now, with the slate clean and everyone sitting at zero wins and zero losses.”

The U.S. will have 12 of the 14 players who competed in the VNL Finals on the Tokyo Volleyball Qualification Tournament roster. Drews was named the most valuable player of the 2019 VNL. Washington and Courtney were both named to the 2019 VNL Dream Team as a middle and libero, respectively. Hill, the 2014 FIVB World Championship MVP, is the only player on the Olympic qualifier roster who did not compete at some point during the 2019 VNL campaign.

Team USA, the only country to medal in women’s indoor volleyball in each of the last three Olympic Games, seeks its 12th appearance in the Olympics. In its previous 11 Olympic Games, the Americans claimed silver medals in 1984, 2008 and 2012 along with bronze medals in 1992 and 2016.

Pool C Opponent Capsules:

Argentina
Argentina, ranked No. 11 in the world, made their first-ever Olympic Games appearance in 2016 and finished in ninth place. Argentina finished 19 out 24 countries at the 2018 FIVB World Championship, its sixth appearance in the event held every four years. Last year’s appearance marked the countries first time making back-to-back trips to the World Championship.

Bulgaria
Bulgaria, ranked No. 16 in the world, finished with bronze in the 1980 Olympic Games, its only appearance in the event. Earlier this year Bulgaria finished in 16th place in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League after winning the 2018 Challenger Cup. Bulgaria placed 12th in last year’s FIVB World Championship, which included a second-round loss to the USA.

Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan, ranked No. 23 in the world, is attempting to achieve its second Olympic Games appearance following a ninth-place finish in its debut in 2008. Kazakhstan placed 24th in the 2018 FIVB World Championship – its fourth consecutive appearance in the event held every four years. Kazakhstan had a best-ever 15th place finish in the World Championship in 2014.

U.S. Women's National Team Roster for 2019 FIVB Tokyo Qualification Tournament Pool C
# - Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
2 – Jordyn Poulter (S, 6-2, Illinois, Aurora, Colorado)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
12 – Jordan Thompson (OPP, 6-4, Cincinnati, Edina, Minnesota)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Champaign, Illinois)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Portland, Oregon)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
20 – Dana Rettke (M, 6-8, Wisconsin, Riverside, Illinois)
22 – Haleigh Washington (M, 6-3, Penn State, Colorado Springs, Colorado)
23 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Manhattan Beach, California)
27 – Mary Lake (L, 5-7, BYU, Palm Springs, California)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Luka Slabe, Tama Miyashiro, Erin Virtue
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Team Leader: Jimmy Stitz

2019 FIVB Tokyo Women’s Volleyball Qualification Tournament Pool C Schedule (all times CT)

Aug. 2
Argentina vs. Bulgaria, 3 p.m.
USA vs. Kazakhstan, 6 p.m. (live on Olympic Channel)

Aug. 3
USA vs. Bulgaria, 5 p.m. (live on Olympic Channel)
Kazakhstan vs. Argentina, 8 p.m.

Aug. 4
USA vs. Argentina, 1 p.m. (live on NBC)
Kazakhstan vs. Bulgaria, 4 p.m.