May 1, 2003 - COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Women's National Training Team of USA Volleyball starts a series of three intersquad matches today running over the next three days.
According to Team USA Head Coach Toshi Yoshida, the matches will be used to determine which players will be invited to train with the returning veteran members of the National Team during the summer.
"These three matches are very important for the players," said Yoshida, who guided the United States to a silver medal at the 2002 World Championships in just his second year as coach. "They have to play well to have the opportunity to stay here. The players know it and we (the coaches) know it."
In March, the training team posted four wins in five matches to finish third at the Mexicali Centenarian Women's Volleyball Cup in Mexico. Among the wins was a stunning five-set victory over three-time defending Olympic champion Cuba.
While USA middle blocker Wiz Bachman was the only member of the training team that had any international experience to start the Mexicali tournament, the Cuban team was nearly identical to the one that finished fifth in the 2002 Women's Volleyball World Championships last fall.
Bachman - who was named "Best Attacker" of the Mexicali Cup - and the rest of the training team were scheduled to play the Chinese Junior National Team in a four-match domestic tour in Michigan and Ohio from April 26-May 2. However, the tour was cancelled due to concerns with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
The intersquad competitions will be used as the evaluation tool that the domestic tour against the Chinese Junior National Team was meant to provide.
The team will be split into two squads, with assistant coach Kevin Hambly coaching a team made up of players who competed in the Mexicali tournament and visiting coach Gen Kawakita-an assistant coach at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania-coaching a team comprised of returning National Team players like Nicole Branagh, Jen Flynn, Sarah Noriega and Nancy Metcalf.