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U.S.A. team's preparation is well under way

8/4/2010

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World Grand Prix 2009
Head coach, Hugh McCutcheon

The U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team is 9-3 in 2010 with podium finishes in its first two tournaments, but the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix in August will serve as its next challenge on the road to the 2010 FIVB World Championships at the end of the year.

“We want to keep getting better with each match, and that is the main focus for this trip," U.S. Women's National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “We will use the World Grand Prix as further preparation for the FIVB World Championship. By the end of the World Grand Prix, we hope to know more about our team and what we need to do to be successful as we move closer to forming our core group of players for the rest of the quadrennial."

The U.S. has played in two tournaments this year, both days apart in June. Team USA captured the silver medal at the prestigious 26th Montreux Volley Masters held in Switzerland from June 8-13. The U.S. topped its NORCECA rival Cuba in straight sets during the semifinals, but dropped a hard-fought four-set match to China in the gold-medal match.

Most recently, the Americans earned the bronze medal at the IX Pan American Cup in Mexico. During the Pan American Cup, the U.S. won all five of its pool matches in straights sets before falling to Dominican Republic in four sets during the semifinals. However, the Americans bounced back to sweep Cuba for the second time in 2010 to gain the bronze medal. Based on its finish in the tournament, the U.S. qualified for the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix.

“Our main goal was to qualify to the World Grand Prix, but it was good to see our team coming back strong after the loss of last night (to Dominican Republic)," McCutcheon said. “We are happy with the victory and happy about going to the Grand Prix next year."

With two successful tournaments in 2010 and two Red-Blue matches involving 20 athletes, McCutcheon feels the team has made vast improvement since the first year of the quadrennial.

“Our early season success validates a lot of our hard work put in last year," McCutcheon said. “If we can keep working on the technique systems and principles, we can be a good team. We are off to a nice start, but now we need to get back to the competition court. Hopefully, we are a little better than a month ago."

Through the early part of 2010, the U.S. has traveled 28 different players to international events including the exhibitions in China, Montreux and the Pan American Cup. Just the last two events in Switzerland and Mexico, McCutcheon utilized 18 different players. Add the World Grand Prix roster into the mix, three additional players – Tom, Hooker and Paolini – could be seeing their first action of 2010.

“We are going to have a lot of difficult decisions in the coming months in deciding our World Championship roster and moving forward through the quadrennial," McCutcheon said. “We are developing a lot of depth on our team in all positions. Suiting up as many players as we have has been by design. It has allowed us to look at different combinations of players. Montreux and Pan American Cup were positives in that respect with having the different lineups."

McCutcheon said that many countries use predominantly the same 12 players for each tournament, and that is not the case for his squad.

“For us, we have depth and that is a strength for us as we can accelerate our own development," McCutcheon said. “No one gets to rest on their laurels. Everyone has to perform to earn playing time."

And there will be plenty of playing time throughout the month of August, thanks to the World Grand Prix.

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World Grand Prix 2009

U.S. Women's National Team Preliminary Roster for FIVB World Grand Prix
1 - Ogonna Nnamani (OPP)
2 - Alisha Glass (S)
3 - Christa Harmotto (MB)
4 - Angie Pressey Forsett (OH)
5 - Stacy Sykora (L)
6 - Nicole Davis (L)
7 - Heather Bown (MB)
8 - Cynthia Barboza (OH)
9 - Jennifer Tamas (MB)
10 - Courtney Thompson (S)
11 - Jordan Larson (OH)
12 - Nancy Metcalf (OPP)
13 - Lauren Paolini (MB)
14 - Nicole Fawcett (OPP)
15 - Logan Tom (OH)
16 - Foluke Akinradewo (MB)
17 - Nellie Spicer (S)
18 - Megan Hodge (OH)
19 - Destinee Hooker (OPP)

(USA Volleyball)