COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 8, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, already with its 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games berth in hand, travels to Japan this month to take part in the 12-team FIVB World Cup – one of three tournaments among the triple crown major events in the four-year Olympic cycle.
U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly and his staff have selected 14 players to compete for the World Cup title. All 14 American players have won at least one tournament title in 2019 with several having multiple gold medals in the year before the Olympics.
“We were very pleased to lock down a berth for the Tokyo Olympics in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Aug. 4, and now we’ve turned our sights toward World Cup,” Kiraly said. “Not only is this an opportunity to battle for a major title, it’s also a chance to push ourselves toward further improvements leading into the Olympic year of 2020. The Japan Volleyball Association always organizes great events, so we’re looking forward to fierce battles against the rest of the world.”
The U.S. opens the round-robin World Cup by playing five matches in Hamamatsu. Team USA’s first opponent is Kenya on Sept. 14 (played at 10 p.m. ET on Sept. 13), followed by defending World Champion Serbia on Sept. 15, Argentina on a Sept. 16, Netherlands on Sept. 18 and Brazil on Sept. 19.
The Americans travel to Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido to face host Japan on Sept. 22, followed by China on Sept. 23 and Dominican Republic on Sept. 24 (played at 11:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 23).
Team USA closes out the World Cup in Osaka as it faces Russia on Sept. 27, Cameroon on Sept. 28 and Korea on Sept. 29 (played at 10 p.m. ET on Sept. 28).
The FIVB World Cup matches will be streamed live on FloVolleyball.tv.
The World Cup has traditionally been an Olympic Qualifier and hosted by Japan. However, with Japan also hosting the Tokyo Olympic Games, it could not host or compete in the World Cup as an Olympic qualifier as it already secured its berth into the Tokyo Games as the host. Hence, the World Cup is not serving as an Olympic qualifier in 2019 but still maintains importance as one of three current tournaments where international ranking points are secured (the FIVB World Grand Prix, which was discontinued in 2017, remains as a ranking tournament in the current Olympic cycle).
“The World Cup is one of the three major tournaments in international volleyball, and it’s a title that our USA Women have just fallen short of winning in previous editions,” Kiraly said. “We’ll play 11 matches in 16 days, so our challenge is to play the strongest, most consistent volleyball we’ve played over a very short but intense period.”
The U.S. will use a short training and acclimation period in Japan prior to the start of the World Cup. The Americans will train in Kurobe City Sept. 9-12 and be hosted by the Aqua Fairies, the local Japan V-League pro team in which American Simone Lee will compete for in 2019-20. Team USA will have an open practice on Sept. 10 at the Aqua Fairies training facility with an autograph session immediately after for the local community.
“We’re honored that Kurobe City will be hosting our team for the last few days of training camp, and excited to make the most of our brief stay,” Kiraly said.
Team USA is the only country to have medaled in each of the last four World Cups. The Americans won silver in 2011 and bronze in 2003, 2007 and 2015. The 2015 World Cup podium finishes replicated the 2016 Olympic Games results – China winning the event with Serbia claiming silver and USA bronze.
The U.S. Women have been on a roll in 2019. The Americans won the FIVB Volleyball Nations League, the premier annual international tournament, for the second year in a row. Team USA qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games by winning the Tokyo Qualification Tournament Pool C in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana. Further, the Americans claimed gold at the Pan American Cup and the NORCECA Champions Cup.