In front of an enthusiastic crowd in Omaha, Neb., the U.S. Women’s National Team snatched the NORCECA Continental Championship away from the Dominican Republic (25-19, 26-24, 21-25, 25-19) on September 21. Led by opposite Kelly Murphy, who was awarded Tournament MVP and Best Spiker honors, the U.S. won gold and therefore qualified for the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in Japan, Nov. 12-17. The U.S. steamed through the tournament without dropping a set.
Jordan Larson-Burbach, a former Husker and the tournament’s hometown hero, earned Best Server honors after serving two of the U.S.’s five aces in the gold medal match. Alisha Glass took the Best Setter title, tallying up 52 assists versus the Dominican Republic. Starting libero Kayla Banwarth was another crowd favorite thanks to her stint at Nebraska from 2007-2010.
The U.S. will be joined by Brazil, Russia, and Thailand – the teams that also won their confederations’ championships at the Grand Champions Cup. Host country Japan automatically qualifies and the FIVB will choose one at-large qualifier to round out the six team tournament.
The U.S. men stormed to the NORCECA Continental Championship final dropping only one set (the second game of their semifinal versus Puerto Rico). They met Canada in the final as expected, but Canada, who had also been crushing teams throughout pool play and the semifinals, couldn’t combat the multifaceted offense of the U.S., led by tournament MVP Matt Anderson (14 kills). Reid Priddy and Max Holt added to Team USA’s attack with 11 kills each, and the U.S. put away the championship match 25-23, 25-20, 25-14, qualifying them for the FIVB Grand Champions Cup in Japan, November 19-24.
Micah Christenson, a junior at USC this year, set for the U.S. during the tournament after training with the team over the summer. He earned Best Setter and Best Server honors, collecting two blocks and 18 assists in the final.
Originally published in November 2013