The USA Women are starting a new quad with tons of new faces just recently out of college. On this transition year after the silver medal finish at the London Olympics, some of the stars that have become fixtures in the starting line up take a break and give the young players a chance to gain experience as the team builds toward 2016. Here are the stories and competitions from the 2013 USA women's volleyball season.
The USA women completed play in the inaugural USA Volleyball Cup Series winning all three matches against Japan. The final match went a full five sets in front of a standing room only crowd of over 2,000 in San Juan Capistrano. Crowds were large at all three matches with 3,500 attending in both San Diego and Long Beach.
USA Volleyball announced several opportunities to watch the women's team play in Southern California in the coming months. In an effort to strengthen ties with the community in which the USA teams train, there will be several intrasquad scrimmages and matches against international competition in the surrounding cities.
Hope remains alive for a record fourth straight Grand Prix title for the USA women, but the road to the top spot on the medal stand will be much tougher than in years past. With none of the big stars from the 2012 Olympic silver medal team or the previous three Grand Prix championships, the new look women's team could have its hands full with the solid slate of teams joining them in the final round this weekend.
After every Olympic Games, there is a period of transition. Players who have been training and competing for years for the chance to call themselves Olympians either made it to London or they didn't. Now that the Games are over, some players will decide that their careers are too. This particular quad will bring a very significant changing of the guard as the American players that have become staples of the beach and indoor games leave the field of play. So how does American volleyball look for the quad leading into the 2016 Rio Olympics?
Volleyball is a great sport. Fun. Exciting. Fast. But if there's ever a year that fans could be forgiven for taking a break from watching our national teams compete, it is the year after the Olympics. Usually after the closing ceremonies, our top tier players either retire or head overseas. The men's and women's national teams become a training ground for young, untested, inexperienced players who muddle through tournaments like World League and Grand Prix like the novices that they are. It's mostly not worth watching or paying attention to. This year has been different.
The U.S. women's national team was unable to win a record fourth consecutive Grand Prix title this year. The young squad full of new faces had its hands full with some stiff competition and only won one of its five final round matches. Olympic gold medalists Brazil came away with the 2013 title, going undefeated in the final round and beating every single team decisively in three sets.
The USA women's national team won NORCECA with a four set victory over the Dominican Republic in the final on Saturday. The women were without most of its 2012 Olympians - just Christa Harmotto and Jordan Larson-Burbach made the trip - but the team had no trouble with the competition. They finished the tournament with a 4-0 record, beating Mexico, Cuba and Canada easily in three sets each. The tournament win qualifies the U.S. for the Grand Champions Cup in Japan this November.