COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 17, 2017) – After finishing the 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix in fifth place with a relatively young roster, the U.S. Women’s National Team will have the luxury to add Olympic experience for the upcoming USA Volleyball Cup matches against Brazil on Aug. 27 and Aug. 29, followed by the season-ending FIVB World Grand Champions Cup (WGCC) being held Sept. 5-10 in Tokyo and Nagoya, Japan.
The U.S. Women’s National Team has announced its 20-player preliminary roster for the WGCC. The vast majority of the U.S. preliminary roster carries over from the core unit that competed in the FIVB World Grand Prix this summer. With just two Olympians on the team and mostly first- and second-year players, Team USA qualified for the World Grand Prix Finals Round with a 6-3 record. The Americans finished fifth overall after losses to Serbia and Italy in the Finals Round pool play.
“During the 2017 World Grand Prix, our USA Team fought hard and learned valuable lessons, much like our team did in 2013 – both experiences forced us to do tons of learning in a concentrated few weeks of competition,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “The disappointing way we finished Grand Prix both those years drove us further in our hunger for improvement.”
The U.S. has the opportunity to add veteran leadership on the court for the USA Volleyball Cup and WGCC with the addition of Olympians Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) and Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) at outside hitter and Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida) and Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) at middle on the WGCC preliminary roster. The Olympian quartet were afforded time to rest this summer after a long Olympic cycle followed directly by the professional club season this past winter and spring.
“For the upcoming World Grand Champions Cup, we have the possibility of incorporating several players with Olympic and World Championship experience who did not compete in World Grand Prix, players like Jordan, Foluke, Kim and Rachael,” Kiraly said. “That kind of experience can be very beneficial for any team, certainly for ours. Whichever 14 people we travel with, we look forward to more great competition and learning in Japan.”
As a final tune-up for the WGCC, the U.S. will host Brazil at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena as part of the USA Volleyball Cup. The U.S. Women are ranked No. 2 in the world, while Brazil is ranked No. 4. The opening USA Volleyball Cup match on Aug. 27 has a 4 p.m. PT first serve, while the Aug. 29 match has a 7:30 p.m. PT start. The second match will air live on NBC Sports Network. The Americans also hosted Brazil in a four-match USA Volleyball Cup in 2014.
Fun Fact 1: The U.S. Women will be playing in the Anaheim Convention Center Arena for the first time since moving its training headquarters there in 2009. The squad hosted Bulgaria in a pre-2012 Olympic Games exhibition match in Anaheim Hills, California. Last December USA Volleyball extended its partnership with the City of Anaheim to serve as the official host city of the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Volleyball Teams through the 2020 Olympic quadrennial.
Following the World Grand Prix, the squad resumed training on Aug. 14 after a week break. Kiraly and the coaching staff will use the next week of training in Anaheim – host city for the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Teams – to finalize the 14-player travel roster for the USA Volleyball Cup and WGCC. Setters on the preliminary roster are Olympian Carli Lloyd(Bonsall, California), Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) and Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma). Opposites are Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana), Liz McMahon (Liberty Township, Ohio) and Aiyana Whitney (Norwood, New Jersey). Liberos are Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona) and Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California).
Fun Fact 2: Justine Wong-Orantes, who is from Cypress, California, and prepped at Los Alamitos High School, will have the chance to wear the Red, White and Blue in international competition playing in her home county – Orange County. She also played club volleyball at nearby Mizuno Long Beach.
Outside hitters on the WGCC preliminary roster are Olympians Hill and Larson, Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Maryville, Illinois), Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio), Madi Kingdon (Phoenix, Arizona) and Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota). Middle are Olympians Adams and Akinradewo, Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota), Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota), Hannah Tapp (Stewartville, Minnesota) and Carly Wopat (Santa Barbara, California).
Along with the quartet of Olympic veterans, other players on the preliminary WGCC roster who did not compete in the World Grand Prix are Carlini, Wopat and Whitney.
The WGCC is a six-team, round robin event held in the first year of each Olympic quadrennial. Team USA opens the event with matches against China on Sept. 5 (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 4) and Korea on Sept. 6 (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 5) in Tokyo. Following an off-day to travel to Nagoya, the Americans face Russia on Sept. 8 (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 7), followed by host Japan on Sept. 9 (3:15 a.m. PT) and Brazil on Sept. 10 (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 9).
Preliminary Roster for USA Volleyball Cup and FIVB World Grand Champions Cup
# – Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
1 – Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Penn State, Edmond, Oklahoma)
3 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, California, Bonsall, California)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
5 – Rachael Adams (M, 6-2, Texas, Cincinnati, Ohio)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (M, 6-2, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota)
9 – Madi Kingdon (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
13 – Carly Wopat (M, 6-2, Stanford, Santa Barbara, California)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Maryville, Illinois)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Portland, Oregon)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (M, 6-3, Stanford, Plantation, Florida)
17 – Megan Courtney (OH, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
19 – Hannah Tapp (M, 6-2, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
20 – Amanda Benson (L, 5-7, Oregon, Litchfield Park, Arizona)
22 – Sarah Wilhite (OH, 6-1, Minnesota, Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
23 – Liz McMahon (OPP, 6-6, Illinois, Liberty Township, Ohio)
29 – Aiyana Whitney (OPP, 6-5, Penn State, Norwood, New Jersey)
Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Tama Miyashiro, Marv Dunphy
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Hicks
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Doctor: Dr. Andrew Gregory
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz
2017 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup Schedule (times subject to change)
Sept. 5: Russia vs. Brazil (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 4) – at Tokyo
Sept. 5: USA vs. China (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 4) – at Tokyo
Sept. 5: Japan vs. Korea (3:15 a.m. PT) – at Tokyo
Sept. 6: Brazil vs. China (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 5) – at Tokyo
Sept. 6: USA vs. Korea (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 5) – at Tokyo
Sept. 6: Japan vs. Russia (3:15 a.m. PT) – at Tokyo
Sept. 8: USA vs. Russia (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 7) – at Nagoya
Sept. 8: China vs. Korea (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 7) – at Nagoya
Sept. 8: Japan vs. Brazil (3:15 a.m. PT) – at Nagoya
Sept. 9: Russia vs. China (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 8) – at Nagoya
Sept. 9: Brazil vs. Korea (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 8) – at Nagoya
Sept. 9: USA vs. Japan (3:15 a.m. PT) – at Nagoya
Sept. 10: Korea vs. Russia (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 9) – at Nagoya
Sept. 10: USA vs. Brazil (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 9) – at Nagoya
Sept. 10: China vs. Japan (3:15 a.m.) – at Nagoya