COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, August 5, 2003 – The USA Girls’ Youth National Volleyball Team has departed Lake Placid, N.Y. for Poland, where they will be one of 16 teams from around the world competing for the 2003 FIVB Girls’ Under-18 World Championship. The team has been training in Lake Placid since July 17. The final 12 players for the world championship roster were selected July 26th.
Team USA will begin play in Pool D on Saturday, August 9th, against the Czech Republic. Belarus and Brazil round out the pool of four.
USA head coach Shelton Collier has announced his starting lineup. Angie McGinnis will start at the setter position, Nicole Fawcett and Jordan Larson at outside hitter, Nicole Britenriker and Alexis Crimes at middle blocker, team captain Sarah Florian at opposite and Byrn Kehoe at libero.
“We have made so much progress since we arrived here,” said Collier. “In nearly every aspect of our game, and certainly with each individual player, we have really made significant improvements.”
Team USA qualified for the world championship by winning the NORCECA (North America/Central America and Caribbean) zonal championship last summer in Salt Lake City, Utah. It gave the team some valuable international experience where it had been lacking and afforded the team a great opportunity to play on a world stage with some of the best teams in the world.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Kehoe. “We are really excited to play in the championship. Our team has really come together well and we very well prepared.”
The initial match against the Czech Republic is very crucial to the teams’ success. The confidence gained from a win could go a long way towards determining where the U.S. will finish in the standings. Just one team will be eliminated from the initial pool. Any loss would be key, as would any victory.
“Our opening match versus the Czech Republic is crucial,” said Collier. “If we can win that one to open the tournament, we can position ourselves to do well in the tournament.”
The last world championship was held in 2001 and U.S. was not part of the event. The Czech Republic competed and finished tied for 13th place while going 0-3 in the tournament. Pool member Brazil claimed the silver medal, while Belarus also finished in a tie for 13th place.
Following their opening match with the Czech Republic, Team USA will face Brazil on Sunday and Belarus on Monday. Second-round pairings will be announced following Monday’s matches.
2003 FIVB Under-18 World Championship Pools
Pool A – Kenya, Croatia, Venezuela, Serbia & Montenegro
Pool B – Russia, Thailand, Poland, Egypt
Pool C – China, Italy, Chinese Taipei, Hungary
Pool D – USA, Brazil, Czech Republic, Belarus