SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, Aug. 2, 2003 – The women’s Volleyball competition gets underway Sunday afternoon at the XIV Pan American Games as the United States national training team takes on Brazil at 2 p.m. (Eastern time) at the Pabellon de Voleibol at Olympic Park.
Since arriving in Santo Domingo on Wednesday night, the USA women have been adjusting to the humid climate and settling into the athlete’s village in addition to training at the open-air Volleyball practice facility adjacent to the Pabellon de Voleibol.
“We had a little bit of a rugged start practicing here,” said USA Pan American Games Head Coach, Mike Hebert, following practice on Saturday. “I think there were a lot of distractions. “But even though we are a little bit of an underdog here I think we’re ready to go.
“Brazilian players are always extremely athletic and very well trained. We have seen them on tape because the USA team played them in the Pan Am Cup last month. They look extremely athletic and very explosive. But just as with us, they can probably have some real upswings and a few down moments as well. I think it’s going to be a pretty even match-up.”
The match will mark the national team debut of 16-year-old high school star Cynthia Barboza, one of the standouts for the USA girl’s youth and junior national teams. Last summer Barboza, 16, helped guide the USA Girl’s Youth National Team to a gold medal at the NORCECA Youth Girls Continental Championships in Salt Lake City, Utah, and earned a silver medal as a member of the USA Women’s Junior National Team at the NORCECA Junior Women’s Continental Championships in Puerto Rico.
“I am pretty excited,” said Barboza on the eve of her senior team debut. “I’m not so nervous because I’m not expected to be the big player out here or anything. I’m just really excited to see what it’s like.”
The United States, which has earned one gold medal (1967), five silver medals (1955, 1959, 1963, 1983 and 1995) and two bronze medals (1987 and 1999) in this competition, will be a member of Pool A along with Brazil, Peru and Puerto Rico. Pool B consists of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela. The women’s volleyball tournament will run from Sunday, Aug. 3 until Saturday, Aug. 16.
Cuba, the three-time defending Olympic gold medallist, is one of the gold-medal favorites at this event along with the host team, the Dominican Republic. Both countries will be fielding their top national teams. Both also suffered losses earlier in the year at a tournament in Mexico to many of the same American players on the current Pan Am roster.