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McCutcheon confident about USA's chances

USA coach Hugh McCutcheon led his team to the gold at the Grand Prix and is hungry for more at the World Championship in Japan

Colorado Springs, Colorado, October 26, 2010 - The United States will embark on their FIVB Women's World Championship campaign in Japan this week hopeful about their prospects of winning a first-ever gold medal.

Head coach Hugh McCutcheon believes that his side's FIVB World Grand Prix success earlier this year was a key step in their development leading toward this FIVB World Championship, although he understands there are still areas where his players can improve.

"I think it helps a little in that we now know we can compete with confidence versus any team in the world," McCutcheon said of their victory in the FIVB World Grand Prix. "However, we have a lot of work to do before the FIVB World Championship tournament as well. So we won't let winning (the Grand Prix) get in the way of the lessons we need to learn."

Team USA are grouped in Pool C in Matsumoto where they will face Thailand on Friday before subsequent matches against Croatia, Germany, Kazakhstan and Cuba. In the second round, Pool C crosses over with Pool B (Brazil, Italy, Netherlands, Kenya, Puerto Rico and Czech Republic) to form Pool F in Nagoya. The semifinals and finals will be played in Tokyo on November 13-14.

McCutcheon's squad left for Japan on October 21 and have been training in the city of Shiga. They will play a warm-up game against Toray, reigning champion of the Japanese V-League, on Tuesday before leaving for Matsumoto.

The Americans hold a 21-9 record in 2010 with three podium finishes, notably their triumph in the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix in August. Earlier this year they earned the silver medal at the Montreux Volley Masters and the bronze at the Pan American Cup.

Team USA, currently ranked second in the world by the FIVB, have picked up medals at the FIVB World Championship four times. They earned the silver medal in 2002 in Berlin and in 1967 in Tokyo. They also captured the bronze at the 1990 event in Beijing and the 1982 tournament in Lima. However, at the most recent FIVB World Championship in Japan in 2006, the US finished in a disappointing ninth place.
 
McCutcheon's USA captured the 18th FIVB World Grand Prix title with a 5-0 record in the Final Round following their straight-set defeat of Japan in their last match on August 29. The US had earlier defeated Poland, Italy, Brazil and China in the Final Round at Ningbo, China.
 
The Americans, who won their final 11 matches of the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix, also prevailed in the event in 1995 and 2001. Until this year, though, they had had not reached the World Grand Prix medal podium since back-to-back bronze finishes in 2003 and 2004.

USA middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo was named the Most Valuable Player and Best Blocker at the 18th FIVB World Grand Prix, while teammate Alisha Glass earned the Best Setter accolade at the event.


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