USA Volleyball Continues Grueling Schedule at FIVB Grand Prix

Aug. 16, 2001

HARBIN, CHINA - The USA Women's National Volleyball has three matchesremaining this weekend in the grueling opening round of the 2001 FIVBWorld Grand Prix. The US team's record stands at 4-2, good enough for asecond-place tie after two weeks. All eight teams advance to the finalround, and will be seeded in two pools according to the standings afterthe preliminary round.

Team USA knocked off second-ranked Russia twice during the first twoweeks of the tournament and pushed the Olympic-champion Cuban team tofive sets last weekend. However, the US will face its toughestcompetition yet when they open play this weekend in Harbin, China, withfirst-place China (5-1) on Friday, followed by Cuba (3-3) on Saturdayand Germany (1-5) on Sunday.

USA head coach Toshiaki Yoshida knows this weekend will be difficult,and is hoping to have Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas, Texas A&M) back atthe libero position. Sykora was injured in the fourth set of lastweekend's match against Russia when she was struck in the head by aRussian attack. Sykora participated in light workouts on Wednesday andis expected to be in the line-up Friday against China.

'All the teams in the preliminary round are testing new strategies andtrying new lineups,' said Yoshida. 'This week will be the toughest todate. We will try to stay focused and be competitive at the same time.We need to gain momentum going in to the final week in Macau.'

Team USA may catch a break against Cuba, though. The entire Cubandelegation was detained in Taiwan for more than 20 hours after theirtravel visas expired. The team did not arrive at their hotel in Harbinuntil Thursday morning. The team's inexperience and travel problemshave veteran head coach George Eugenio wondering about their stabilityand confidence.

'Lack of preparations is one of the main reasons,' said Eugenio.

Many US players continue to rank near the top of the statisticalrankings following the second week. Logan Tom (Salt Lake City,Utah/Stanford Univ.) and Danielle Scott (Baton Rouge, La./Long BeachState) rank sixth (97 points) and seventh (96), respectively, in therace for the tournament's best scorer. Scott is ranked third in hittingefficiency at 46.36 percent. Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif./Univ. ofHawai'i) ranks second in blocking with 0.92 blocks per set, followed byScott who is averaging 0.88 blocks per set. Sykora is ranked eighth indigs with an average of 1.96 per set. Setter Robyn Ah Mow (Honolulu,Hawai'i/Univ. of Hawai'i) ranks fourth in setting with an average of10.42 assists per set.

The final round begins in Macau, China on August 22, where the US looksto improve on last year's sixth-place Grand Prix finish. Team USA willplay three matches in pool play, then advance to playoff matchesdepending on their pool finish. Playoff matches take place on Saturday,August 25, and Sunday, August 26.

courtesy of USA Volleyball

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