BANGKOK, Thailand (July 4, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team is on a quest to get better with each and every point in preparation for the Olympic Games, and that could lead to a seventh FIVB World Grand Prix title as the Americans take part in the Final Round July 6-10 in Bangkok, Thailand.
The World Grand Prix Final Round consists of the top five teams through the preliminary round, plus host Thailand. The U.S., ranked number-one in the world, finished the nine-match preliminary stage in first place with an 8-1 record and 24 points, including a convincing three-set win over second-ranked China in the final match in Hong Kong on June 26. China and Russia, both 8-1 through the preliminary round, are seeded second and third in the Finals phase. The fourth seed goes to Brazil at 7-2 in the preliminary round, followed by Netherlands at 5-4. Host Thailand was 2-7 in the preliminary phase.
Team USA, the defending World Grand Prix champions, opens the six-team Finals week on July 6 against Netherlands at 4 a.m. ET. After an off-day in the three-team pool play, the Americans face second-ranked China on July 8 at 4 a.m. ET. Brazil, Russia and host Thailand comprise the opposite three-team pool.
The top two teams in pool play advance to the crossover semifinals on July 9. The Finals Round concludes on July 10 with the medal round matches and the fifth-place match between the pool’s two third-place teams.
The World Grand Prix is the premier annual international women’s volleyball tournament. This year it serves as the last major event for teams qualified to the 2016 Olympic Games to fine tune their systems. All but Thailand competing in the World Grand Prix Finals have qualified for the Olympic Games next month.
For the Finals Round, U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly and his staff have chosen three middles, four outside hitters, three setters, two opposites and two liberos to represent Team USA. The three middles are Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio), Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida) and Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania). The outside hitters are Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Illinois), Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon), Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) and Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Illinois).
The three setters chosen for the World Grand Prix Finals roster are Alisha Glass (Leland, Michigan), Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) and Courtney Thompson (Kent, Washington). The two opposites are Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois). Liberos selected for the roster are Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) and Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, California).
Through the FIVB World Grand Prix’s nine preliminary round matches, Team USA did not have anyone in the top 15 in scoring partly due to the fact the Americans shifted their lineup frequently over the course of the three weekends. However, the Americans’ success during the nine matches largely was due to its passing with three players ranking in the top six in the Best Receiver category. Larson ranked second with a 51.2 efficiency percent, while Robinson and Hill ranked fifth and sixth respectively with 43.3 and 42.9 efficiencies.
Hill led the U.S. in scoring during the preliminary round with 87 total points, but no other American was in the top 22 spots. Hill also ranked fourth in Best Spiker with a 42.0 kill percent (68-of-162). Larson totaled 77 points for 23rd overall in scoring. Glass has been credited with a 4.57 running set average in the preliminary round for third in Best Setter. Dietzen provided the Americans 18 blocks in the preliminary round for a 0.60 set average and seventh in the Best Blocker category. Adams finished the preliminary round ranked sixth in serving with a 0.30 ace average, which was matched by Hill.