Friday, June 29, 2012

Olympic Volleyball decision looms for two former Washington players


Just two World Grand Prix matches remain; Miyashiro proves worth in tough victory against Turkey

Team USA was struggling.

It was the fourth set; the score was tied 3-3. After handily dispatching Turkey in the first set, the Americans barely hung on in set two, and lost set three.

Although the US was undefeated (11-0) in 2012 World Grand Prix competition, its passing had been suspect the past two weeks, when nine athletes were competing for the final four slots on the 12-member London Olympic roster. Turkey had been on an impressive World Grand Prix run, entering the match with a 9-2 record and a reputation for tough serving.

Viewers watching Internet feeds at 2:00am (Seattle time) got a surprise. The second official, Pedro Fabian of Argentina, was seen removing a blank blue jersey from a plastic sack. Without a translated explanation (the broadcast feed we saw was in Polish), former Washington All-American Tama Miyashiro pulled the jersey over her uniform and took the court, replacing starting libero Nicole Davis (USC).

It was the first time in a month of competition that an American other than Davis had worn the libero jersey.

Tama Miyashiro (left, in blue jersey) and Courtney Thompson (right of Miyashiro) join USA teammates and head coach Hugh McCutcheon in a huddle during the World Grand Prix Final Round match against Turkey

Bill Kauffman, Senior Manager of Communication for USA Volleyball in Colorado Springs, tells Volleyblog Seattle that privacy laws and USA Volleyball policy prohibit comment on injuries or health status unless permission has been granted. But Rule 19.4 of the FIVB rulebook seems to indicate that last night’s Miyashiro-for-Davis switch was possible only if Davis was injured or ill.

Miyashiro played well the rest of the way, helping Team USA to a 3-1 victory. Her spot duty may help head coach Hugh McCutcheon as he fills out the 12 roster spots for the Olympic team. The roster is due on Monday, and is expected to be announced Tuesday or Wednesday. [see Volleyblog Seattle’s roster handicap, below]

Former Husky setter Courtney Thompson is also among those in the running. Although Alisha Glass (Penn State) played most of the Turkey match, Thompson was once again strong during double switches. At worst, she is Glass’s equal in setting and—surprisingly—in blocking, despite Glass’s height advantage. Glass has stepped up her serving, while Thompson has plateaued of late. Thompson, however, maintains a clear advantage in both defense and in intangibles—she is a confident leader where Glass still often seems detached.

Tonight, Team USA faces struggling Cuba. Will Thompson get the start? Will Miyashiro replace Davis if Davis was, in fact, injured? The match starts at 12:30am (Pacific time), and can usually be found on the website www.sportlemon.tv (ignore the “download” buttons and wait about a minute for the initial commercials to play.)

The final 2012 World Grand Prix match pits host China against the USA; it starts Sunday morning at 4:30am.



Volleyblog Seattle handicaps the Olympic roster:


Eight players have likely already earned roster spots:





1.
Setter 1

Lindsey Berg
Minnesota
2.
Outside Hitter 1

Logan Tom
Stanford
3.
Outside Hitter 2

Jordan Larson
Nebraska
4.
Outside Hitter 3

Megan Hodge
Penn State
5.
Opposite Hitter 1

Destinee Hooker
Texas
6.
Middle Blocker 1

Foluke Akinradewo
Stanford
7.
Middle Blocker 2

Christa Harmotto
Penn State
8.
Libero

Nicole Davis
Southern California






The team will certainly carry one of these two as a second setter; at this point, McCutcheon has to decide which player can provide the spark if Berg falters or is injured. Frankly, Thompson has shown she has what it takes:





9.
Setter 2
-OR-
Courtney Thompson
Washington
Alisha Glass
Penn State






The team will likely carry one of these two as a second opposite hitter; Haneef-Park may have a slight edge:





10.
Opposite Hitter 2
-OR-
Tayyiba Haneef-Park
Long Beach State
Nancy Metcalf
Nebraska






The team will probably carry one of these two as a third middle blocker; both players are deserving, a difficult toss-up for McCutcheon:





11.
Middle Blocker 3
-OR-
Danielle Scott-Arruda
Long Beach State
Heather Bown
Hawai’i






Here’s where it gets tricky. Does the team carry a second defender (Miyashiro) or a fourth hitter (Richards or Barboza)? Miyashiro’s performance after Davis’s injury could be the tipping point in her favor. A longshot possibility: no third middle blocker and two of these three players:





12.
Defensive Spec.
-OR-
Tama Miyashiro
Washington
Outside Hitter 4
Kristin Richards
Stanford
Outside Hitter 4
Cynthia Barboza
Stanford



2012 World Grand Prix Final Round Standings
(Team USA has already defeated Brazil, Thailand and Turkey; it plays Cuba tonight and China Sunday morning)

1.
USA
3
0
2.
Brazil
2
1
3.
Turkey
2
1
4.
China
1
2
5.
Thailand
1
2
6.
Cuba
0
3
·         Ties among teams with similar W-L records are broken by sets and points won
·         The six finalists had the best record of 16 teams who competed in three round-robin tournaments in venues around the world.
·         Team USA has not yet lost a match in the 2012 WGP, and is seeking its third consecutive title.

2 comments:

  1. There is an English commentator if you go to Other on the Sportlemon board and push usually the second entry, tonight for Cuba v. USA. Same feed, different commentator. Loves Barboza. Eccentric, but at least you can understand him.

    ReplyDelete

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