Stanford Athletes Help U.S. Qualify For World Grand Prix Final Round

July 8, 2008

Stanford, Calif. - Four current and former Stanford players were in action with the U.S. Women's National Team last weekend, helping the squad qualify for the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round. The team won two of its three matches in Pool H in Taipei, and will head to Japan this weekend for the final round.

Last weekend, with Logan Tom, Kristin Richards, Cynthia Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo on the roster, Team USA defeated Poland, 20-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-10. In its second match, the squad took down Turkey, 25-16, 25-20, 20-25, 25-17 to clinch its first berth in the final round since 2004. Tom had seven kills, three blocks and two aces in the crucial match, while Akinradewo scored two kills late in the fourth set.

In the final match of the weekend, Italy snapped the team's seven-match win streak, 25-22, 25-21, 25-16. Akinradewo, starting for the first time in the FIVB World Grand Prix, led the U.S. with nine kills on 15 errorless attacks, one block and one ace for 11 points. Tom tacked on four kills and a block for five points, while Barboza and Richards both came off the bench to score two kills.

The FIVB World Grand Prix finals, a round-robin format of the top five teams from the preliminary round plus host Japan, will be played tomorrow through Sunday in Yokohoma, Japan. Brazil, China and Italy all finished the nine-match preliminary round with 8-1 records. The U.S. finished fourth with a 7-2 record, while Cuba recovered from a 2-3 start to win its last four matches and take the final spot in the final round.

The U.S. begins the finals against Brazil, the world's top-ranked team, tomorrow. Team USA faces host Japan on Thursday, followed by NORCECA rival Cuba on Friday. The Americans challenge Italy on Saturday before concluding the finals on Sunday against Olympic Games host China.

Akinradewo and Barboza, the only players on the squad with collegiate eligibility remaining, have been on the roster in each of the first three weekends, and will both be on the 12-player squad for the finals. Former Stanford great Logan Tom will also return to the roster this week, while Ogonna Nnamani will see her first action of the Grand Prix. The event is being used to narrow the 19-player preliminary roster to 12 for the Olympic Games next month. Along with the four Stanford players competing this weekend, Richards is still in contention for an Olympic roster spot.

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