Saturday, July 13, 2013

National Team | USA Volleyball again defeats Japan

Three former Huskies will be in action for USA tonight
#1 USA 3, #3 Japan 1 (25-17, 26-24, 18-25, 25-20)
  • July 13 | 7PM | JSerra High School, San Juan Capistrano | #! USA vs. #3 Japan | live video feed at USA Volleyball

It’s the beauty of volleyball: you’re never out of it until you’re out of it.

Late in the second set of the USA vs. Japan match at Long Beach Walter Pyramid, the Americans trailed 17-23. Coming out of a timeout, Alicia Glass sent a backset toward Nicole Fawcett on the right side.

USA's Kim Hill attacks against Japan at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach
-photo by Matt Brown, USA Volleyball

Throughout the first two sets, this combination had fizzled. In two matches against Japan, Glass had struggled with backsets, often forcing opposites into awkward tips or harmless roll shots. Against a great defensive team like Japan, soft shots are rarely effective.

This time, however, the set was hittable, and Fawcett creamed it for a winner. She rotated to the service line with her team still trailing by 5.

Fawcett has one of those high risk/high reward jump serves, and she had been in an early groove. With the set on the line, she ripped serve after serve, landing an ace to bring it to 20-23. Three points later, it was tied at 23, and the Japanese were on their heels.

In the end, USA rolled on a 9-1 streak to overtake a team that prides itself on passing and win the set. As good coaches never tire of saying, serving and passing wins matches.

Washington alum and Olympian Courtney Thompson saw her first action of the current quad, coming in during the first three sets as part of the same double-sub rotation employed last year. As usual, she brought energy—her distinctive shouts cut through the audio broadcast on a live videostream on the USA Volleyball website.

Thompson had little trouble with her backset, allowing Kelly Murphy to blast winners from the right side. Thompson also mixed it well; her 6 assists went to all three front-row positions plus a back-row attack. At 14-17 in the second set, she ran so hard after a shanked ball that announcer Mark Schuermann yelled, “Courtney Thompson! Are you kiddin’ me?”

Kristin Hildebrand and Lauren Paolini each had ten kills for USA. The Americans outhit Japan .370-.333, and outblocked them 12-3. Newcomers Murphy and Kim Hill both had impressive moments in spot duty.

Tonight’s final match of the USA Volleyball Cup series will feature three former Huskies: Thompson, Tama Miyashiro and Jenna Hagglund. Miyashiro, another Olympian, will make her first appearance of the Cup; Hagglund split duties with Glass in the first match.

  • After a live stream of the first match was blocked by Internet firewall, last night’s contest was broadcast without any technical hitches. Producers were limited to a single camera, and chose an intriguing angle, from an endline corner.
  • The broadcast was called by Mark Schuermann, a recent graduate of Cal State Northridge. He did a commendable job, though volleyball broadcasts are invariably better when two good announcers work side-by-side to provide commentary and analysis. As it was, Schuermann tried to fill timeouts by reading tweets, which can get old when an announcer reads a string of shoutouts.
  • Schuermann interviewed USA Volleyball CEO Doug Beal after the second set. Beal listed several goals to increase volleyball’s profile in the USA, including the need to more clearly feature some of the stars of the women’s team. Courtney Thompson was one of three players he specifically mentioned.
  • A replay of the second match is up on YouTube, though the audio didn’t work past the first few minutes when we first watched the replay.


  1. That was indeed a good match, and it was nice when the USA's lousy serving was matched by Japan.

    Question about the camera angle: the earlier match had, what was for me, a vexing camera angle from the end of the court. I saw comments in another forum that the angle more clearly showed the connection between setter and hitter, which I guess is true, but the foreshortened view lost all sense of depth. Every ball that was not crosscourt was impossible to gauge for distance or arc. And while the near team was relatively easy to see, the far team was impossible to see faces or usually numbers, even on a large screen (40").

    The angle last night, on the other hand, gave a sense of depth to almost all hits, and you could see action, faces, and numbers on both sides of the court.

    Is there a generally-recognized "best" angle of view for single-camera matches?

    I notice in Hec Ed that the teams deploy their own cameras in the ends of the arena and not on the sides. For sure, when trying to show it from the side with a single camera, it has to be so far away to get the whole court that players are tiny, and panning back and forth can generate sea-sickness pretty quickly.

    Maybe the new college grad Mark came up with something new and better?

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