2005 FIVB WORLD GRAND PRIX

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Lang Ping returns to China as USA begin World Grand Prix

Colorado, USA, June 23, 2005 – The first weekend of the World Grand Prix is also a homecoming for “Jenny” Lang Ping as the first-year head coach guides the USA women’s national Volleyball team into action beginning on Friday in Ningbo, China.

The trip marks the first time Lang Ping has returned to her homeland since she was hired by USA Volleyball on Feb. 7 of this year, and media interest in the homecoming is obviously at its peak.

“I hope my players won’t be affected by all of the attention,” admitted Lang Ping before the team departed for China. “I hope they are able to concentrate on the games and do what they’re supposed to do. This is an important tournament for our team. These 12 players have never played together yet. It’s really hard to divide the work and the other stuff…the interview requests. But I can’t avoid it.”
Pic: USA and China split their two matches in last year's World Grand prix
The 12-team Grand Prix field is broken into three pools that will change slightly on each weekend of pool play. On the first weekend (June 24-26) the United States will be a member of “Group C” along with 2004 Olympic gold medalist China, the Netherlands and Thailand and play its matches at the Ningbo Beilun Gym.

After playing against the Netherlands and Thailand in the first two matches of the Grand Prix, all eyes will be on Lang Ping and the Americans as they compete against the Chinese on Sunday.

“I will look at it as just another Grand Prix match,” she said. “That’s the only way I can stay calm and focus on the game. I just try to concentrate on our team and our game. I don’t think about it being a big deal. If you take it too personally you cannot really work.

“I am the coach for the USA,” Lang Ping added. “I have to concentrate on my team. I have studied videotape of China. Of course, they are much stronger than we are right now, but we still want to take this opportunity to learn a lot of things from them. We still have three years to catch up.”

On the second weekend of pool play (July 1-3), the USA will play the Dominican Republic, Japan and Korea in Seoul, Korea, as a member of “Group D.” On the third weekend of pool play (July 8-10), the USA will play Japan, Poland and Thailand in Bangkok, Thailand, as a member of “Group I.”

The top five ranked teams after pool play will advance to the championship round along with the host team, Japan, from July 13-18 in Sendai, Japan.