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Volleyball - 17. July 2007.

U.S. Women's National Team Journal - Laurel Brassey Iversen

Laurel Brassey Iversen, team leader for the U.S. Women's National Team competing at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Pan American Games, provides the latest journal offering insights into the women's national team.

USA vs Puerto Rico

Starting for USA:
Tayyiba Haneef-Park
Danielle Scott-Arruda
Cynthia Barboza
Foluke Akinradewo
Cassie Busse
Lindsey Hunter
Kristen Fenton Michaelis – Libero

We are too early on the blocking so we are getting lots of balls dribbling down inside our arms; however, Puerto Rico makes enough mistakes to let us stay close. Everyone has made a few errors. They have pulled out a bit 11-16 at the second time out. There was a double sub with Laura Tomes for Hunter and Courtney Thompson for Cassie. Not much change.

We finally started to fight a bit now and Puerto Rico called their first time at 16-18. Three passing errors and we are down 16-21. This game has been all Puerto Rico especially serving us off the court. We made two aggressive plays and we are at 19-23. Maybe we saved up all those errors from yesterday. Game 1/ 21-25

The Brazilian fans are quite polite during the introductions but when the match starts, they boo us every time we get a point. It was the same yesterday. Possibly only Cuba gets booed more.

Game two we started Courtney Thompson from University of Washington at setter in place of Hunter. We don’t look much different yet, but are trying to manufacture some enthusiasm. For the first time we are tied at 5-5. Stuff block by Dani and Ty. Technical time out 8-7. We are looking a bit sharper now and executing a little better. Dani with an ace. Time out at 13-10. We are not out of the woods yet.

Between sets Brazilian music blares and the DJ gets the crowd fired up and cheerleaders surround the arena.

Cassie and Cynthia are really struggling today not able to get many kills. This is one of those matches that make coaches crazy because you keep waiting for the team to get it together. We are up 17-13 but I’m not feeling all that comfortable yet. Stuff block by Dani. I feel better. Puerto Rico calls time out 18-13. Dani with another stuff. They answer with a kill down the line and Dani comes back with a blistering slide. Courtney comes up with a stuff block on the right by herself. Foluke with another block. 15-22. I don’t really like to do play by play but this is getting to be a fun game.

We are fighting now. We gave them back a couple and Sue called a time out at 18-22. A long ugly rally and Puerto Rico bumps the ball out of bounds over the net and hits one in the net and finishes themselves off with an overpass...Whew. 25-18. So now we know we can beat them.

Game three same lineup as two. We are scrambling now and making plays where we didn’t in the first two games. Courtney is adding lots of spirit on the court. Cynthia already has two kills in this game. Our blocking is still strong and at the first TTO we are up 8-5. Kristen Fenton is coming up with some great digs and is steady passing and we are pushing now. Second TTO 9-16 - as it should be. We are calmer and playing smarter now, making good choices setting and hitting. Our slide is working well and our passing has improved immensely. Patience now. Cassie is playing better now serving, blocking and hitting. Game thre, 25-16.

Game four same lineup. Everyone is fighting for points now and we will have to stay in this mentally. This game is very close and the score is 13-16 at the 2nd TTO. Puerto Rico has stepped up their game after going to sleep for games two and three. Dani is unstoppable on the slide. We have pulled ahead 18-17 with some good intensity. I think PR is mentally tired now. They have hit a few balls in the net. 21-19. We are really fighting now and we have won our second match 3-1. Fourth game 25-22.

Tomorrow we play Cuba. We are excited to play them and it should be a packed arena. Brazil plays after. Sorry I don’t have much up close and personal info this time. Our biggest village challenges have been finding ways to get our laundry done, fighting the viscious mosquitos and dealing with the incredible sewer smells. (I almost forgot about the giant bats in the practice facility). Other than that we are enjoying our Pan Am experience and we are looking forward to a new day.

Ate Amanha…until tomorrow.

Laurel Brassey Iversen
Team Leader
USA Volleyball
Pan American Games

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