Monday, August 18, 2014

National Team | Courtney Thompson shines but USA misses Grand Prix volleyball finals

Team USA misses qualifying for championship round for the first time in five years

The setting of Courtney Thompson and the attacking of Kelly Murphy led the US Women’s National Team to a 3-1 victory Sunday over Dominican Republic. But USA just missed grabbing the sixth and final spot in next week’s 2014 Grand Prix Finals.

USA National Team setter Courtney Thompson celebrates a point in a 3-1 World Grand Prix victory Sunday over Dominican Republic
The Grand Prix features a grueling three-week preliminary in locations around the world. USA lost twice to #1 Brazil, 3-0 in Sao Paulo and 3-2 in Bangkok. The Americans split two matches with Russia, losing 3-1 in Ankara, and winning the rematch 3-1 in Sao Paulo. Along the way, the USA also defeated Japan, Korea, Thailand and the Dominicans, while also losing to Turkey, to finish 5-4. The 3-2 loss on Turkey’s home court in Ankara prevented the USA from reaching a fifth straight Grand Prix Finals.

The hitting star for the Americans was clearly Murphy. The 2012 Florida graduate averaged 16 kills over the nine matches. Stanford Olympian Foluke Akinradewo averaged 12 kills in seven matches. Nebraska Olympian Jordan Larson-Burbach, recovering from injury, averaged 9.5 kills in her six matches.

Penn State’s Alicia Glass was the starting setter in 30 of USA’s sets; the Americans won 15 and lost 15 of those sets. Washington Olympian Courtney Thompson started 5 of the 6 final sets of the prelims, and went 5-3 in sets overall as a starter. Thompson played in all nine matches of the Grand Prix, and has been a regular on the USA roster all summer.

The final national team competition of 2014 is the FIVB Women’s World Championship, starting September 23 in Verona, Italy.

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