SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, August 10, 2003 – Following a three-day break the USA women’s national Volleyball training team returns to action on Monday night at the Pan American Games with a quarterfinal showdown against Venezuela.
Team USA, which dropped its first match of the tournament (3-0) to Brazil, rebounded to win its final two matches in pool play (3-2 over Puerto Rico, 3-1 over Peru) and earn Pool A’s No. 2 seed.
The United States conducted a full practice on Sunday and will have a light training session on Monday morning in preparation for the quarterfinal at the Pabellon de Voleibol at Olympic Park.
“We were a little sluggish to start out with, but (we) put together some ball-control drills to get their (the players) attention and we finished well,” said Team USA head coach Mike Hebert of Sunday’s practice. “This match is more about our side that it is Venezuela. If we can serve and pass well, we have a good chance to win.”
Venezuela lost its first two matches of pool play to Cuba and the Dominican Republic (both by 3-0 scores) before defeating Mexico on Friday, 3-1, to finish pool play with a 1-2 record and emerge as the No. 3 team from Pool B.
“Venezuela reminds me a lot of Peru; I expect a similar kind of match,” revealed Hebert. “Desiree Glod and Alejandra Garcia are both very good offensively, and Yaseldy Castaneda is an excellent middle blocker. But I think we have done a very good job of scouting them.”
The United States has some weapons of its own. Middle blocker and team captain Wiz Bachman and outside hitter Nicole Branagh are both tied for fifth place among all scorers with 43 points in three matches. Bachman has posted 28 kills, 13 blocks and two service aces and also ranks fifth in blocks per set (1.08), while Branagh has 36 kills, five blocks and two aces.
Middle blocker Erin Aldrich (Dallas, Texas), a 2000 Olympian as a high jumper on the track and field team, ranks third on the team in scoring with 26 points on 17 kills and nine blocks.
Hebert, who has used several different combinations of players at the tournament so far, still has not decided on his starting lineup for Monday’s match.