COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 2, 2007) -
The U.S. opens the Grand Prix Aug. 3-5 at Rzeszow, Poland. The Americans will face host Poland on Aug. 3, Russia on Aug. 4 and China on Aug. 5. Team USA travels to Khabarovsk, Russia, the following weekend for matches against Cuba on Aug. 10, Russia on Aug. 11 and Kazakhstan on Aug. 12. The U.S. closes out the preliminary round at Macau, China, with contests against China on Aug. 17, Cuba on Aug. 18 and Netherlands on Aug. 19.
“The U.S. has a really strong schedule to play against, including the addition of Kazakhstan which took us to five sets at the World Championships in 2006,” said U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Lang Ping. “We will face great competition in every round of the Grand Prix and will play some of the top-ranked teams twice (China, Russia, Cuba). So we have a big challenge ahead of us.”
The top five teams in addition to Finals Round host China advance for the chance for the Grand Prix title in Ningbo, China. A round-robin format will declare the champion.
“Ningbo is our goal, which means being in the top six after the preliminary rounds,” Lang Ping said. “We are a great team, and an improving team. We have talented and strong players. I see the Grand Prix as a good challenge for us as we try to win as much as possible.”
The U.S. has won the FIVB Grand Prix in 1995 and 2001, along with consecutive bronze-medal finishes in 2003 and 2004.
The U.S. qualified for this year’s Grand Prix at the 2006 Pan American Cup as it took fourth place and was the third ranking team from NORCECA.
Lang Ping has selected a veteran roster for the 2007 FIVB World Grand Prix. The 12-player roster includes four outside hitters, three middle blockers, two setters, one opposite, one libero and one defensive specialist.
Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.), Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) and Jennifer Joines (Milpitas, Calif.) form a veteran core of offense and defense at the middle blocker position. Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.), Katie Wilkins (Lakeside, Calif.) and Ogonna Nnamani (Normal, Ill.) are experienced outside hitters. Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.), an outside hitter, will get her first taste of international competition with the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu, Hawai’i) and Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) will be charged with the U.S. setting duties. Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) is the lone opposite on the Grand Prix roster for Team USA. Candace Lee (Eugene, Ore.) will be the designated libero for the tournament, while Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) will serve as a defensive specialist.
“We have some young players on the roster and they will be exposed to a very high level of play in this tournament, so we can see how they handle that and hope that they adjust and improve as the tournament goes on,” Lang Ping said. “We want to improve our teamwork and skills in preparation for the Olympic qualification tournaments at the end of this year.”
Due to the summer tournament competition schedule, one of the main challenges the U.S. will need to overcome quickly is the ability to play as a team. Lang Ping sent varied rosters to the Pan American Cup held in June at Mexico and the 2007 Pan American Games held in July at Brazil. Busse and Thompson are the only two players who have been named to all three tournament rosters this summer.
“Because we have not had this group training together for very long, our challenge will be to build and improve our teamwork,” Lang Ping said.
In its last tournament action, Team USA collected the XV Pan American Games bronze medal by defeating Peru 25-22, 25-22, 25-22 on July 19 in the third-place match. Using a mixture of veterans and young players, Team USA advanced to the medal round by defeating Costa Rica 3-0 and Puerto Rico 3-1, before concluding Pool B action with a 3-0 loss to Cuba. The U.S. lost to host Brazil 25-13, 25-20, 25-20 on July 18 in the semifinal round.
The U.S. finished fourth at the 2007 Pan American Cup and qualified for next year’s FIVB World Grand Prix. During the tournament, Team USA went undefeated in pool play, but dropped matches in the semifinals and bronze-medal match.
“We had good results in the first two events, but this is a much stronger tournament and we will be playing several of the top-ranked teams,” Lang Ping said. “This is the kind of competition we need to face to improve our level of play.”
2007 U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB World Grand Prix
No. – Name (Pos., Hgt., School, Hometown)
1- Ogonna Nnamani (OH, 6-1, Stanford, Normal, Illinois)
2 - Danielle Scott-Arruda (MB, 6-2, Long Beach State, Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
3 - Tayyiba Haneef-Park (OH, 6-7, Long Beach State, Laguna Hills, California)
7 - Heather Bown (MB, 6-3, Hawai’i, Yorba Linda, California)
8 - Katherine “Katie” Wilkins (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Lakeside, California)
9 - Jennifer Joines (MB, 6-3, Pacific, Milpitas, California)
10 - Kim Glass (OH, 6-3, Arizona, Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
11 - Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (S, 5-9, Hawai’i, Honolulu, Hawai’i)
14 - Candace Lee (L, 5-7, Washington, Eugene, Oregon)
15 - Nicole Davis (L, 5-6, Southern California, Stockton, California)
17 - Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, Washington, Kent, Washington)
18 - Cassandra “Cassie” Busse (OPP, 6-1, Minnesota, Prior Lake, Minnesota)
Head Coach: “Jenny” Lang Ping
Assistant Coaches: Sue Woodstra, Tom Hogan
Team Managers: Joan Powell and Fred Wendelboe
Technical Coordinator: Diane French
Medical Support: Emery Hill, Jr.
Team Doctors: Lori Boyajian-O’Neill and William Briner, Jr.
Group A – Tokyo, Japan (Ariake Coliseum)
Aug. 3: Cuba vs. Dominican Republic, 2 p.m.
Aug. 3: Japan vs. Kazakhstan, 6 p.m.
Aug. 4: Cuba vs. Kazahkstan, 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 4: Japan vs. Dominican Republic, 6 p.m.
Aug. 5: Dominican Republic vs. Kazakhstan, 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 5: Japan vs. Cuba, 6 p.m.
Group B – Verona, Italy (Palaolimpia)
Aug. 3: Brazil vs. Netherlands, 6 p.m.
Aug. 3: Italy vs. Chinese Taipei, 8:30 p.m.
Aug. 4: Chinese Taipei vs. Brazil, 6 p.m.
Aug. 4: Italy vs. Netherlands, 8:30 p.m.
Aug. 5: Netherlands vs. Chinese Taipei, 6 p.m.
Aug. 5: Italy vs. Brazil, 8:30 p.m.
Group C – Rzeszow, Poland (Na Podpromium)
Aug. 3: Russia vs. China, 5 p.m.
Aug. 3: Poland vs. USA, 8 p.m.
Aug. 4: Russia vs. USA, 5 p.m.
Aug. 4: Poland vs. China, 8 p.m.
Aug. 5: China vs. USA, 5 p.m.
Aug. 5: Poland vs. Russia, 8 p.m.
Group D – Tokyo, Japan (Ariake, Coliseum)
Aug. 10: Brazil vs. Netherlands, 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 10: Japan vs. Chinese Taipei, 6 p.m.
Aug. 11: Brazil vs. Chinese Taipei, 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 11: Japan vs. Netherlands, 6 p.m.
Aug. 12: Netherlands vs. Chinese Taipei, 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 12: Japan vs. Brazil, 6 p.m.
Group E – Khabarovsk, Russia (Platinum Arena)
Aug. 10: Cuba vs. USA, 4 p.m.
Aug. 10: Russia vs. Kazakhstan, 6:30 p.m.
Aug. 11: Cuba vs. Kazakhstan, 4 p.m.
Aug. 11: Russia vs. USA, 6:30 p.m.
Aug. 12: USA vs. Kazakhstan, 4 p.m.
Aug. 12: Russia vs. Cuba, 6:30 p.m.
Group F – Hong Kong, China (Hong Kong Coliseum)
Aug. 10: Italy vs. Poland, 7 p.m.
Aug. 10: China vs. Dominican Republic, 9:30 p.m.
Aug. 11: Italy vs. Dominican Republic, 1:15 p.m.
Aug. 11: China vs. Poland, 3:45 p.m.
Aug. 12: Dominican Republic vs. Poland, 1:15 p.m.
Aug. 12: China vs. Italy, 3:45 p.m.
Group G – Osaka, Japan (Osaka Municipal Gym)
Aug. 17: Poland vs. Russia, 3 p.m.
Aug. 17: Japan vs. Kazakhstan, 6 p.m.
Aug. 18: Kazakhstan vs. Russia, 3 p.m.
Aug. 18: Japan vs. Poland, 6 p.m.
Aug. 19: Kazakhstan vs. Poland, 3 p.m.
Aug. 19: Japan vs. Russia, 6 p.m.
Group H – Taipei, Chinese Taipei (Ksingchuang Gym)
Aug. 17: Brazil vs. Dominican Republic, 3 p.m.
Aug. 17: Chinese Taipei vs. Italy, 6:20 p.m.
Aug. 18: Italy vs. Dominican Republic, 3 p.m.
Aug. 18: Chinese Taipei vs. Brazil, 5 p.m.
Aug. 19: Chinese Taipei vs. Dominican Republic, 3 p.m.
Aug. 19: Italy vs. Brazil, 5 p.m.
Group I – Macau, China (Macau Forum)
Aug. 17: Cuba vs. Netherlands, 6 p.m.
Aug. 17: China vs. USA, 9 p.m.
Aug. 18: Cuba vs. USA, 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 18: China vs. Netherlands, 7 p.m.
Aug. 19: USA vs. Netherlands, 1 p.m.
Aug. 19: China vs. Cuba, 4 p.m.
Finals – Ningbo, China
Aug. 22: Team 2 vs. Team 5, 1:30 p.m.
Aug. 22: Team 3 vs. Team 4, 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 22: China vs. Team 6, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 23: Team 4 vs. Team 2, 1:30 p.m.
Aug. 23: Team 3 vs. Team 6, 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 23: Team 5 vs. China, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 24: Team 2 vs. Team 6, 1:30 p.m.
Aug. 24: Team 4 vs. Team 5, 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 24: Team 3 vs. China, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 25: Team 6 vs. Team 5, 1:30 p.m.
Aug. 25: China vs. Team 4, 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 25: Team 2 vs. Team 3, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 26: Team 6 vs. Team 4, 1:30 p.m.
Aug. 26: Team 5 vs. Team 3, 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 26: China vs. Team 2, 7:30 p.m.
Michael Bradley Photography