The USA Women's National Volleyball Team departed for its first international competition of the 2000 season today with a fresh look. The team will compete against Russia and Japan in a series of matches in Moscow, April 16-20, with four new players on the roster.
Russia is the top-ranked team in the world after claiming the title at the 1999 Grand Prix and finishing second at the 1999 World Cup. The Russians top stars are outside hitters Lioubov Chachkova-Sokolova, Evgenia Artamanova and Elena Godina. The average height of the three superstars is 6'4". Japan has always been an international contender, but a strong sixth-place showing at the 1999 World Cup and recent victories over Cuba, China and Italy have the Japanese believing they can contend for an Olympic medal. Known for strong defense and passing, Japan relies heavily on the offense of Ikumi Ogake and Chikako Kumamae.
Russia def USA 3-0 (25-9, 25-19, 25-21)
USA def Russia 3-2 (25-27, 25-15, 21-25, 25-10, 15-12)
Japan def USA 3-2 (25-17, 18-25, 17-25, 25-23, 8-15)
USA player Logan Tom credited the stingy defense of Japan for the loss.
"I thought most of the match was played well," she said. "At times we would have good plays and Japan's tremendous defense did not allow the ball to hit the floor. This killed any momentum we gained and Japan was able to maintain a higher level for a longer period of time."
Japan def USA 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-17)
"The reigning Grand Prix champions dominated the match at the net, out-hitting (48-32) and out-blocking (11-4) Team USA. Opposite hitter Sarah Noriega had a strong match with nine kills, four aces and a .286 hitting percentage. Head Coach Mick Haley again utilized new players Nancy Meendering, Kerri Walsh, Heather Bown and Logan Tom. Libero Stacy Sykora felt the team played better than in their previous meeting with Russia."