Manager, Media Relations and Publications
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 5, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Indoor Volleyball Team used 21 blocks to defeat Turkey 25-16, 25-20, 20-25, 25-17 Saturday afternoon during FIVB World Grand Prix Pool H action at Taipei, Chinese Taipei.
The U.S. jumped to a 10-3 lead in the opening set with an 8-1 run and used five blocks and three aces to close out the set 25-16. Team USA led the second set 22-14 with seven blocks in the frame, then withstood a 6-1 run to win 25-20. Turkey used 13 American errors in the third set to win 25-20. Team USA jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the fourth set, but had to stop Turkey cold with an 11-9 American lead to go on to the 25-17 victory.
“We tried to improve in this match, especially our blocking when facing such good spikers like No.16 & No.12 from Turkey Team,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach ‘Jenny’ Lang Ping said. “Although we managed to win, we did not do well whenever patience was needed to organize the second, third even fourth round attack better. We need to improve in this aspect so as to stabilize our performance.”
With its seventh consecutive victory after opening the World Grand Prix with a loss to the same Turkey squad, Team USA (7-1) qualified for the World Grand Prix Final round with one match remaining in the preliminary round against Italy at 5 p.m. (3 a.m. Mountain Time) on Sunday. Italy (6-1) plays Poland later today and is in a good position to qualify for the Finals as well.
The FIVB World Grand Prix includes three preliminary round weekends with three different sites each weekend hosting round-robin events of four teams. The World Grand Prix Finals, a round-robin format of the top five teams from the preliminary round plus host Japan, will be played July 9-13 at Yokohoma, Japan. The overall ranking in the preliminary rounds is decided by the total number of World Grand Prix Points (GPP) gained by the teams in the preliminary matches with two points awarded for a win and one point for a loss.
The U.S. is in second place in the 12-team tournament with the same number of losses as Brazil and Italy. Team USA trails tournament leader China, the only undefeated team, by one match in the loss column. China hosts Brazil on Sunday to conclude the World Grand Prix preliminary round setting up the potential for four different teams to win the regular portion of the tournament.
The U.S. and Italy last met on the final day of the 2007 FIVB World Cup in what turned out to the championship match. Italy won the contest in straight sets as Lang Ping elected to rest a couple players after reaching the primary goal of 2008 Olympic Games qualification at the tournament.
The U.S. has not qualified for the World Grand Prix Final Round since 2004, the last Olympic Games year. The Americans finished third in 2004, followed by eighth place in 2005, seventh place in 2006 and eighth place in 2007. Team USA has won the premier annual event in 1995 and 2001. Brazil has won three of the last four titles, while defending champion Netherlands failed to qualify for this year’s World Grand Prix. Italy has medaled in the last four World Grand Prix events with silver medals in 2004 and 2005, and bronze medals in 2006 and 2007. China, the 2008 World Grand Prix leader, finished second last year as it hosted the Finals in Ningbo.
Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) led the U.S. with 19 points via 16 kills on 33 swings, two aces and a block. Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) provided a match-high eight blocks to go with eight kills on 13 errorless attacks for 16 points. Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) tacked on seven kills, three blocks and two aces for 12 points. She added seven excellent service receptions on 15 errorless attempts. Kim Willoughby (Napoleonville, La.) charted six kills, four blocks and an ace for 11 points to go with seven digs and a team-high eight excellent service reception attempts on 35 attempts. Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) contributed seven points with three kills and four blocks.
Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.) tallied a kill and ace in limited action as a reserve in the third set, while Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) scored two kills late in the fourth set. Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) added a kill, and Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu) rounded out the scoring with an ace to go with 19 assists. Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) paced the defense with 13 digs and added eight excellent service receptions on 14 errorless attempts.
Team USA started Scott-Arruda and Bown at middle blocker, Tom and Willoughby at outside hitter, Haneef-Park at opposite and Ah Mow-Santos at setter. Davis is the designated libero for this leg of the World Grand Prix. Barboza and Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) were part of double-switches in the final three sets. Glass entered the match as a sub in the third set, while Akinradewo came off the bench late in the fourth set.
The U.S. out-blocked Turkey 21-8 and held a slim 6-5 edge in aces. The Americans totaled 44 kills and converted 35.8 percent of their attacks, while Turkey totaled 36 kills and a 27.1 kill conversion percent. Both teams committed a slew of errors with 29 Team USA miscues to Turkey’s 24. In the backrow, Turkey topped the U.S. in digs, 45-30.
“USA played really well in this match,” Turkey Head Coach Alessandro Chiappini said. “Their serve and block-cover were exceptionally well. I am sorry to say that this was the worst match we'd played since the beginning of WGP. We lost our usual aggressiveness and concentration. Our players are young, but that is also an issue when stability is required.”
Seda Tokatlioglu, who scored 31 points in the first meeting against Team USA on June 20, was held to 16 points with 14 kills and two aces. Esra Gumus added eight kills and two aces for 10 points in the loss.
In other World Grand Prix matches played today, Brazil defeated Japan 25-16, 25-21, 25-15, while Germany handled Thailand 25-18, 25-15, 25-16. Matches later today has Cuba facing Kazakhstan and China playing host to Dominican Republic.
The U.S. has qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and is using the World Grand Prix as an evaluation tool to help determine the 12-player roster for the Olympic Games. Team USA faces Japan on Aug. 9 to open the 2008 Olympic Games. Other teams in the American pool are Cuba (Aug. 11), Venezuela (Aug. 13), China (Aug. 15) and Poland (Aug. 17).
Team USA scored the first three points of the match with a Haneef-Park kill and two Turkey errors. However, Turkey scored the next two points to move to within one at 3-2. The U.S. benefited from two additional Turkey errors to go back up by three, 5-2. Haneef-Park followed Turkey’s fifth error of the set with an ace and Bown downed a kill at the technical timeout to yield an 8-3 American advantage. Haneef-Park scored her second ace out of the break and Bown put up a block for a fourth and fifth straight point and 10-3 lead. The lead expanded to eight with a Turkey error at 11-3. Turkey stopped the bleeding with three quick points for an 11-6 score. Tom sliced a kill followed by blocks from Willoughby and Bown to extend the lead back to eight, 14-6. Willoughby canned a kill and Scott-Arruda put up a block at the second technical timeout for a 16-7 lead. Ah Mow-Santos served an ace between kills from Haneef-Park and Willoughby for a 19-8 advantage. Turkey scored five unanswered points to slice the deficit to six, 22-16. Haneef-Park stopped the run with a kill and Willoughby followed with a block to provide eight set points at 24-16. Haneef-Park wasted no time with her seven point of the set to end the set at 25-16. Team USA had five blocks in the set, while both teams had three aces.
The U.S. scored three straight points to take a 3-1 lead in the second set as Willoughby scored an ace between kills from Scott-Arruda and Haneef-Park. Scott-Arruda added a block and Tom followed with a kill to push the scoring run to five points and a 5-1 lead. Turkey cut the gap to one at 6-5 with three consecutive points. Bown scored a kill and block while Tom tossed in an ace to push the lead back to four, 10-6. Turkey answered with back-to-back points to narrow the U.S. lead to 10-8. Scott-Arruda collected a kill and two blocks on consecutive points followed by a Haneef-Park kill to increase the advantage to six points, 15-9. Turkey notched three back-to-back points to inch to 15-12. Tom put up a block between kills from Scott-Arruda and Haneef-Park to regain a six-point cushion at 18-12. A Turkey error extended the U.S. lead to 19-12. Scott-Arruda downed a kill and Haneef-Park stuffed a Turkey attack to put the score at 21-13. Turkey scored six of seven points to close to three, 23-20. Willoughby ended the spurt with a kill and block for the match at 25-20. Scott-Arruda turned in seven points with three blocks in the set. Team USA scored eight blocks overall in the second set.
Turkey scored five unanswered points in the third set to take an 8-4 lead into the first technical timeout. Tom responded with a block and ace to cut the deficit in half at 8-6. Team USA knotted the set at 10-all with a kill and block from Scott-Arruda, in addition to a Barboza kill. Turkey returned to a two-point cushion at 12-10, but contributed consecutive errors to tie the set again at 12-all. Turkey built its three-point cushion back at 15-12 with three straight points. Turkey extended its lead to 17-13 after a Scott-Arruda provided a kill. Glass was inserted into the match and promptly put down a kill and block to cut the deficit in half at 18-16. Turkey answered with two straight points of its own to return to a four-point edge, 20-16. USA closed to two at 22-20, but Turkey scored the final three points of the set. Scott-Arruda notched five points in the set to pace the U.S. attack.
Willoughby followed a Haneef-Park kill with a block and kill, and Turkey added three errors to provide the U.S. an early 6-0 margin in the fourth set. Turkey committed its fourth and fifth errors of the set to give Team USA an 8-1 lead at the first technical timeout. Turkey produced a 6-1 run to close to two, 11-9. Scott-Arruda scored two blocks around two Turkey errors to provide the U.S. a six-point advantage at 16-10. Turkey notched consecutive points to claw to 17-13. Haneef-Park scored a kill and Turkey added two more errors to lead to a 20-13 Team USA advantage. Tom chipped in a kill and block on consecutive plays and Turkey committed another error for a 23-14 score. After Turkey saved two match points, Akinradewo scored a kill at 25-17 to end the match. Team USA scored 12 of its 25 points on Turkey errors in the fourth set.