The United States women’s
Volleyball team is on a mission. With a ranking of
second on the FIVB’s official rankings and their
place in the 2004 Olympic Games having been assured
since finishing third at the World Cup in November
2003, USA is seeking now to swipe the top ranking
away from their Chinese rivals. Gold at Athens would
go along way to USA achieving their goal.
In 2001 the United States captured the gold medal at
the World Grand Prix, followed in 2002 by the silver
medal at the World Championship. Add bronze medal
finishes at the 2003 World Grand Prix and at the Pan
Am Games and a gold medal at the 2003 NORCECA
Continental Championships and USA are definitely
shaping up as one of the favourites for Athens.
Despite the recent success, USA coach Toshi Yoshida
insists that the players must maintain their focus
on the ultimate goal – winning a gold medal in
Greece. “Our goal is to go for the gold, but you
have to be good enough and I have high expectations
of them,” he said. “But we have to keep working
hard”. “I think during the last year it looks like
we did a really good job, but we did not peak,” he
continued. “We can be better …. but you have to be
careful. Anything can happen”.
Yoshida, besides tactics and system, is begging his
players, which include outside hitter Logan Tom,
explosive Keba Phipps, amazing receiver Stacy Sykora
and net wizard Heather
Bown, to give it all they’re wo rth and contest
every match as if it was their last.
Achieving success at the Athens Olympics will not be
easy. But if the players perform in this, the USA’s
eighth appearance in the Olympic Games (silver in
1984, bronze in 1992), with the same heart and soul
that they poured into every match of the most
important tournaments of the last four seasons, then
they will be favoured to add to their already
impressive medal collection.