The U.S. Women’s National Team needed some very specific circumstances to occur for it to advance out of the preliminary round of the FIVB World Grand Prix.
The team had just finished up play in its third pool of the preliminary round with a defeat of the Dominican Republic in four, bringing its overall record to 5-4 and 15 points. The only thing the players and coaching staff could do was sit and wait to hear the results coming in from the other pools to see if they would finish in the top four of Group 1.
Team USA needed Korea to upset Serbia in Pool I, which it did, winning in four. Then they needed Italy to defeat Turkey in five sets. It didn’t: Turkey won in four. Their last hope was for Russia and Germany’s match to close out Pool H to go to five. Unfortunately for Team USA, Russia defeated Germany in straight sets.
The final six teams that moved onto the final round were Group 1’s top four finishers—Brazil (which went undefeated, dropping only three total sets, in the preliminary round), China, Turkey, and Russia—and Group 2 winner Belgium along with Grand Prix Finals host country Japan. Team USA failed to make the final round for the first time in five years. Last year, the Americans finished fifth after winning the title the three previous years (2010-2012).
Many fans and commentators highlight the conspicuous absence of Destinee Hooker, who hasn’t competed for Team USA since the 2012 Olympics. On Twitter when a fan asked when she was going to play again, Hooker responded, “Whenever Karch wants me back.” The tweet and others concerning her absence from Team USA have since been deleted.
To follow the Grand Prix Finals action in Tokyo visit fivb.org.