Stanford Players Help U.S. To Fourth Place Finish At World Grand Prix
July 13, 2008
Stanford, Calif. - Four current and former Stanford players competed in the FIVB World Grand Prix final round for the U.S. Women's National Team last week, and wrapped up the event with a fourth-place finish today. The team won two of its five matches in the finals to match its world ranking (No. 4) and take fourth in the 12-team event.
Tom started and led the U.S. with 11 kills and an ace in a 25-19, 25-19, 25-23 loss to eventual champion Brazil in the opening match, while Nnamani totaled six kills off the bench and Akinradewo notched a kill and an ace.
In the second match of the finals, a thrilling 26-28, 25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 15-11 victory over host Japan, Tom started and contributed 14 kills, four blocks and an ace. Nnamani, who started just the final two sets, totaled seven kills with just one error on 15 attacks, three blocks and three aces.
Team USA lost a five-set heartbreaker to Cuba in the next match, 22-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-21, 15-11. Akinradewo, Tom and Nnamani started the match and Tom tallied 15 points with 12 kills, two aces and a block. Nnamani chipped in 12 points all on kills and 21 attacks with one error and Akinradewo totaled seven kills, two blocks and an ace in her first start of the final round.
In the fourth match, the squad lost to Italy, 25-17, 26-28, 25-19, 25-19. All four Stanford players started, and Akinradewo and Nnamani tied for the U.S. point lead with 18 apiece. Akinradewo netted 14 kills on 29 attempts to go with a match-high four blocks. Nnamani totaled 15 kills, two blocks and an ace, while adding nine excellent service receptions on 25 attempts and one fault. Tom produced 12 points with 11 kills and an ace. She handled five digs to go with 14 excellent service receptions on 30 errorless attempts. Barboza tallied three kills.
In the final match, the team rallied to best China, 25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 21-25, 17-15. Tom and Akinradewo earned starting nods, and Tom delivered 17 kills on 39 swings and three blocks for 20 points. Akinradewo contributed 10 kills on 20 attacks in the victory, while Nnamani, who started just the fifth set after subbing in the first four, compiled six points with five kills on eight errorless swings and an ace.
The U.S. posted its highest finish since 2004, when the team took home the bronze medal. Team USA has won the premier annual event twice, in 1995 and 2001.
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 event. 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).
Akinradewo and Barboza are the only players with collegiate eligibility remaining among those in contention for an Olympic roster spot. Tom, Nnamani and Kristin Richards are also in that group of 19 players. The final Olympic roster is expected to be named in the coming weeks.