Former Benjamin Logan and Penn State great Nicole Fawcett (pictured) collected 24 points in leading the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team to a 25-15, 25-19, 21-25, 23-25, 15-10 victory over Japan Saturday in the final match of the USA Volleyball Cup in front of standing-room only crowd of 2,000 fans at the JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, California.
Team USA swept the inaugural USA Volleyball Cup three-match series with Japan. The Americans won the opening match 23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-23 on July 10 at UC San Diego, followed by a 25-17, 26-24, 18-25, 25-20 victory on July 12 at Long Beach State. Team USA is now 8-0 on the season in Karch Kiraly’s first season as head coach.
“Japan is definitely an unbelievable team and one of the toughest to score against in the world, and they showed that tonight in how they came back,” said setter Jenna Hagglund (West Chester, Ohio).
Fawcett tallied 18 kills on 33 attacks with just two errors to go with three blocks and three aces as part of her 24 points. Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich.) added 12 kills on 21 errorless swings and two blocks for 14 points. Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.) chipped in 13 points via nine kills, three blocks and an ace. Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles) produced four kills, three aces and three blocks for 10 points, which was matched by Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb.) with eight kills, one ace and one block for 10 points.
Hagglund tallied 47 assists in the victory, while Thompson added 11 as part of a double-sub off the bench in all five sets. Larson-Burbach totaled 19 digs and Tama Miyashiro (Kaneohe, Hawaii) added 11 digs with a 74 positive reception percent on 23 service receptions.
“It has been amazing to play in front of great crowds this week,” Paolini said. “We feed off the crowd and they have been incredible. By seeing the crowds show up and supporting us means our hard work and dedication means a lot to people other than just our team. It is very meaningful to have the crowds come out night after night to support us in this event.”
Japan was led by Yukiko Ebata’s 24 points, while Saori Kimura added 23 points. Risa Shinnabe charted 13 points in the loss for Japan.
“It has been an incredible experience playing at home in front of a home crowd and hearing the ‘USA’ chant – it is a dream feeling,” Hagglund said. “Japan is one of the best teams in the world, and this has been a great experience for the whole team with so many players contributing. It is incredible to have so many players play and make solid contributions versus a great opponent such as Japan. We all practice hard every day in the gym, but there is nothing like putting on a jersey and playing a quality opponent. Everybody is working their tails off every day in practice, and these matches are a great report card for us to see our progress and what we need to upgrade.”
Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) recorded nine kills for the Americans, while Hagglund added three points and Danielle Scott (Baton Rouge, La.) chipped in two points. Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, Calif.) rounded out the scoring with a kill.
The U.S. held a 15-4 margin in blocks and an 8-5 edge in aces. Japan produced a narrow 69-63 margin in digs. Team USA held a 40.9 kill percent and .354 hitting efficiency (67-9-164). Japan was limited to a 35 kill percent and .206 hitting efficiency (63-26-180).
Kiraly started Hagglund at setter, Hill and Larson-Burbach at outside hitter, Paolini and Jackson at middle blocker and Fawcett at opposite. Miyashiro was the libero for the match. Murphy started the third set in place of Fawcett, who returned to the starting rotation for the fourth and fifth sets. Lichtman was a sub in the final four sets, while Scott was a sub in the third set.
The U.S. Women are ranked No. 1 in the world and won the silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games. Japan, ranked No. 3 in the world, captured the bronze medal in London last summer.
Both teams will be competing in the FIVB World Grand Prix, the premier annual women’s international volleyball tournament, starting on Aug. 2. The Americans travel to Brazil for the opening preliminary weekend to face Russia, Poland and Brazil, while Japan competes in Turkey against the host country, Thailand and Algeria. The World Grand Prix has three consecutive preliminary weekends with a total of nine matches. The top five teams in the 20-team field plus Japan advance to the Final Round that takes place Aug. 28 to Sept. 1 in Sapporo, Japan.
Team USA bolted to a 13-2 advantage in the opening set and went on to win 25-15 as Fawcett connected for five kills on seven errorless attacks along with a block. Jackson totaled three aces, two blocks and a kill in her first set and match in a USA uniform. The Americans hammered 14 kills on 29 errorless attacks in the opening set.
Japan held an 8-6 lead at the first technical timeout of the second set, only to see the U.S. gain steam in building a 19-12 lead and going on to a 25-19 victory. Fawcett was credited with four kills, one ace and two blocks in the set.
Japan reached the third set’s first technical timeout leading 8-6 and increased the margin to 16-13 at the second technical timeout on a 4-1 scoring run. Team USA answered by leveling the score at 18-all. Japan regained a two-point cushion at 21-19 and went on to win 25-21 on a 7-3 run.
Japan prompted the U.S. to take a timeout trailing 13-8 in the fourth set after yielding a 6-1 scoring run by the visitors. The Americans fell behind 19-14 and called its second timeout, but came out of the break with a 4-0 run on Larson’s serve to close to 19-18. Japan stopped the run with consecutive points to push to a 21-18 advantage. Hill put up a solo block and Fawcett sliced an ace to close the U.S. deficit to 22-21 going into Japan’s second timeout, then the score went level at 22-all on a Japan attack error. Japan scored the final two points on a block and kill to capture a 25-23 victory and send the match into the tiebreaker.
The U.S. jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the fourth set that included two slams by Fawcett, resulting in an early Japan timeout. Japan rallied to square the set at 6-all. Team USA reached a two-point cushion at 9-7 following a Japanese attack error, then extended the gap to 10-7 on a Jackson cross-court winner. The Americans built the lead to 13-9 on a Japan error. Paolini slammed an overpass to end a long rally with several Japanese digs to give the Americans set and match points at 14-10. Hill finished off the set with a kill down the line at 15-10.
Notes: Jane Ward, a 1964 U.S. Olympic Volleyball Team member, was present at the match and met with the current team members prior to the first serve…Cursty Jackson and Sonja Newcombe suited in their first international matches…Both U.S. setters in the match, Jenna Hagglund and Courtney Thompson, were products of University of Washington…The USA Volleyball Cup with the U.S. and Japan was played in three different communities in Southern California to build better community relations in the area that the team trains. The City of Anaheim is the host city for the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Volleyball Teams…The U.S. had 17 different players see court time in the three-match USA Volleyball Cup series with the rosters changing for each contest.
U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Roster for July 13 USA Volleyball Cup
# - Name (Pos, Ht, Spike, Block, Hometown, College)
2 - Danielle Scott (MB, 6-2, 10-8, 9-11, Baton Rouge, La., Long Beach State University)
3 - Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, 9-0, 8-8, Kent, Wash., University of Washington)
5 – Tamari Miyashiro (L, 5-7, 9-4, 8-9, Kaneohe, Hawaii, University of Washington)
7 - Cassidy Lichtman (OH, 6-1, 9-10, 9-2, Poway, Calif., Stanford University)
10 - Jordan Larson-Burbach (OH, 6-2, 9-11, 9-8, Hooper, Neb., University of Nebraska)
12 - Kayla Banwarth (L, 5-10, 9-8, 9-3, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
14 - Nicole Fawcett (OPP, 6-4, 10-2, 9-7, Zanesfield, Ohio, Penn State University)
17 - Lauren Paolini (MB, 6-4, 10-5, 9-10, Ann Arbor, Mich., University of Texas)
20 – Jenna Hagglund (S, 5-10, 9-7, 9-6, West Chester, Ohio, University of Washington)
22 - Rachael Adams (MB, 6-2, 10-5, 10-1, Cincinnati, Ohio, University of Texas)
25 - Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, 10-4, 10-1, Wilmington, Ill., University of Florida)
26 - Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, 10-6, 10-2, Portland, Ore., Pepperdine University)
28 – Cursty Jackson (MB, 6-2, 10-6, 10-2, Los Angeles, University of Arizona)
39 – Sonja Newcombe (OH, 6-1, 10-0, 9-10, Lake Arrowhead, Calif., University of Oregon)
Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Reed Sunahara, Tom Black
Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek