Manager, Media Relations and Publications
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 21, 2007)
Team USA, the three-time defending NORCECA champion, will face Cuba in the gold medal match on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT. The Americans have won the bi-annual event five times (1981, 1983, 2001, 2003 and 2005) and face rival Cuba for the ninth time in a row in the championship. At the last NORCECA Championship tournament held in 2005 at Trinidad & Tobago, Team USA defeated Cuba with a five-set victory. Cuba has won the tournament a record 12 times in the 19 previous editions.
The NORCECA Continental Championship will not only crown the top team among North American, Central American and Caribbean nations, it will qualify two teams into the FIVB World Cup held Nov. 2-16 in Japan. The World Cup field includes the five continental champions, the four best Continental vice-champions based on the 2007 FIVB World Ranking, host country Japan and two wild cards as chosen by the FIVB and Japan Volleyball Association. The World Cup is the first 2008 Olympics qualifier with the top three teams earning an automatic bid.
Ogonna Nnamani (Normal, Ill.) tallied a match-high 18 points with 16 kills on 28 attacks and two blocks. Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) chipped in eight kills, three blocks and an ace for 13 points while converting 67 percent of her attacks into kills. Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) totaled nine kills on 22 swings and an ace for 10 points. Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) charted six kills and a block for seven points during the victory, while Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) produced four points on a relatively quiet night. Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu) rounded out the scoring with a kill and ace as she also directed the Team USA offense to a .344 attack efficiency and 49 percent kill ratio. Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) handled 24 of the team’s 47 service receptions with a 54 “excellent” percentage without an error.
"We came out strong and mentally prepared for this match," U.S. Women's National Team Head Coach 'Jenny' Lang Ping said. "Canada started game three by serving aggressively and diggings some good shots. Most importantly, we won this match and qualified for the World Cup, which was our goal."
The U.S. started Ah Mow-Santos at setter, Scott-Arruda and Bown at middle blocker, Nnamani and Haneef-Park at outside hitter and Busse at opposite. Davis handled the libero duties. Sarah Drury (Louisville, Ky.) subbed into the first and second sets. Jennifer Joines (Milpitas, Calif.) was a sub in the opening set. Katie Olsovsky (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) and Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) came in as part of a double switch in the third set.
"I was happy with the way we came out strong and executed the game plan," Nnamani said. "It was a very good win for us and we have another tough match with Cuba tomorrow."
The U.S. held a 7-6 advantage in blocks and 3-1 lead in aces. Both teams limited their service errors to a minimum with Team USA committing five to Canada’s three. The Americans held the Canadians to a .135 team attack percentage with 21 hitting errors on 96 swings.
Stacey Gordon led Canada with 11 points, all on kills from 31 swings. Tasha Holness added eight points in the loss. Tammy Mahon, Tiffany Dodds and Emily Cordonier all recorded five points for Canada.
Team USA advanced to the semifinals by going into undefeated in Pool B with victories over Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico and Dominican Republic. Canada finished second in Pool A with a 2-1 record, then defeated Mexico in the quarterfinals on Thursday to reach the medal round. The Canadians will Dominican Republic for the bronze medal on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT.
After trailing 6-5 in the opening set, the U.S. put together a four-point run to take a 9-6 edge. Scott-Arruda pounded a kill followed by a Busse block to lift the Americans ahead 11-7. Nnamani and Scott-Arruda put together consecutive kills to force Canada into a timeout down 13-8. Scott-Arruda put up a block and a Canada attack error sent the U.S. into the lead at 15-8 on a 4-0 run. Canada cut the deficit to four points at 18-14 forcing the U.S. into its first timeout. Team USA scored consecutive points out of the break with a Canada attack error and Scott-Arruda block of Gordon at 20-14. The U.S. lead increased to seven, 23-16, on blocks from Scott-Arruda and Nnamani after a Canada service error. The U.S. picked up set up at 24-16 on its fourth straight point via a Scott-Arruda block. Canada saved two set point tries before Busse ended the set at 25-18 on a kill. Nnamani led the U.S. attack in the opening set with six kills and a block, while Scott-Arruda picked up three kills and three blocks for six points.
Team USA jumped out to an 8-2 advantage in the second set with two kills from Busse. The Americans pushed the lead to eight at 12-4 as Nnamani and Scott-Arruda put down consecutive kills. Busse turned in a kill and ace as part of a 3-0 run that extended the U.S. advantage to nine points at 18-9. Team USA scored seven of the last eight points of the second set with Nnamani tallying two kills and a block in the spurt. Nnamani ended the second set with seven kills and a block, while Busse totaled four kills and an ace in the set.
The U.S. fell behind in the third set 6-1, but was able to cut the deficit to three at 7-4. Scott-Arruda terminated an overpass followed by a Haneef-Park kill to close the Americans to within two at 13-11. After a Gordon kill, the U.S. rolled off three straight points with a Busse kill and two Canadian errors to tie the score at 14-all. Scott-Arruda scored a kill and block on consecutive plays to give the U.S. its first lead of the set at 18-17. Canada regained a three-point cushion at 21-18 on a four-point swing. However, the U.S. scored four of the next five points with kills from Busse and Scott-Arruda around two Canadian errors for a 22-all score. After a Canadian timeout, the U.S. went into the lead at 23-22 with a Scott-Arruda ace. Team USA ended the set 25-23 as Canada committed back-to-back hitting errors. Scott-Arruda tallied seven points in the third set with five kills, one block and an ace. Busse and Nnamani each totaled three kills in the period, while Bown contributed two kills and a block.