PRESS RELEASE 21.07.2003


USA open World Grand Prix with sweep of Cuba

Gioia del Colle, Italy, July 21, 2003 – Team captain Danielle Scott scored a match-high 11 points to lead four players in double figures as the U.S. women’s national volleyball team swept past Cuba 3-0 ( 25-22, 25-19, 25-14) to begin the 2003 FIVB World Grand Prix Monday night at the Palazzo dello Sport.

Scott, the Most Valuable Player of this tournament in 2001 when the United States won the gold medal, had seven kills and a match-high four blocks in the Pool A victory.

Keba Phipps, Elisha Thomas and Logan Tom added 10 points apiece as Team USA won its sixth match in a row to improve to 10-6 on the season.

Phipps, playing in her first match of the year, blasted 10 kills and added a team-high nine digs. Thomas, starting in place of an injured Heather Bown, had five kills, three blocks and two service aces. Tom, the team’s top scorer in 11 of 16 matches on the year, had eight kills, one block, one ace and seven digs.

“Tonight was a really physical game, like Cuba always is,” said opposite Nancy Metcalf, who scored seven points on five kills and two blocks. “Our goal was to take care of our side and stay focused. We knew if we took care of the ball and stayed under control, we could beat Cuba. A 3-0 win feels good and now we are looking forward to the match with Japan tomorrow.”

Tayyiba Haneef, playing in her first match since spraining her ankle on June 12, scored five points on five kills off the bench. Libero Stacy Sykora registered eight digs.

“Tonight gave us confidence that we will be able to build on throughout the tournament,” said setter Lindsey Berg, who scored two points. “We came out a little dead and out of rhythm, but we were patient and by the end of the first game, we were taking care of business on our side. We did a lot of good things tonight and we hope to get stronger and stronger each match.”

As a team, the United States out-blocked Cuba, 11-2, and posted a hitting percentage of .529 (42-5-70). Cuba hit .222. Next up for the Americans in Pool A is a match against Japan on Tuesday.

Yumilka Ruiz and Kenia Carcase scored eight points apiece to lead Cuba, which has lost its last four matches against the United States.

In other Pool A action, the Netherlands swept Japan and Italy defeated Germany, 3-1. In Pool B, Brazil and China posted sweeps of Thailand and Canada, respectively, while Korea upset defending Grand Prix champion Russia, 3-1.