Long Beach volleyball fans are in for a treat this evening, when the USA Women’s Volleyball team will face off against Japan in the Walter Pyramid at Long Beach State, at 7pm. The match is the second in a series of three, as part of the inaugural USA Volleyball Cup—the USA team hosted the Japan team on Wednesday at UC San Diego, and will conclude the series on Saturday, July 13th at JSerra High School.
“The USA Volleyball Cup is a fantastic event connecting our Women’s National Team with the Southern California community in which we’re based, and of course providing competition against one of the world’s great teams,” U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said in a statement. “To inaugurate this Cup, it is an honor that Japan has accepted to compete and renew a storied rivalry of tours across the United States and in Japan.”
The U.S. Women are ranked No. 1 in the world by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), while Japan is ranked No. 3. The Americans finished the 2012 season with their second consecutive Olympic Games silver medal, one spot ahead of the Japanese who claimed the 2012 Olympic Games bronze medal.
“The USA program wanted to play at the Pyramid,” said LBSU director of volleyball Brian Gimmillaro. “That was the number one site where they wanted to play, and it’s always nice to hear that.”
Of course, with the historic success of Gimmillaro’s players at the international level (there were two on the last Olympics USA team), there was bound to be a 49er re-taking the floor. Since Tayyiba Haneef-Park is expecting her second child, it will be up to five-time Olympian Danielle Scott-Arruda, who will be participating with the USA team.
“Having a chance to compete in front of our family, friends and fans is awesome and far too rare,” said Scott-Arruda. “So we are totally excited. Long Beach State did an outstanding job hosting the men's NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament in 2012. I am looking forward to playing in the Pyramid again.”
Scott-Arruda became the first-ever American volleyball player (and just the third in world history) to play in five Olympics last year, and at the age of 40, is still competing for the national team.
“I’m excited to see Danielle,” said Gimmillaro. “She continues to do things that no American athletes have ever done. She won a national championship with us 20 years ago, and has been playing professionally since then, year round. It’s incredible.”
In addition to Scott-Arruda, Logan Tom, a longtime Long Beach resident, is also competing on the USA team, and will take the court in the Pyramid this Friday, against a familiar foe in Japan.
The USA-Japan series has been a storied rivalry among friendly countries. Since 1983, the U.S. Women and Japan have played 211 matches – the most with any U.S. opponent - with many of the contests in the 1980s and 1990s taking part in similar tours in either the United States or Japan. The U.S. has played Cuba 148 times since 1983, which ranks as the second most matches in an all-time series.
The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team hosted Japan most recently during the spring of 2000 with matches in Burleson, Texas, Pueblo, Colo., Colorado Springs and Denver. Japan won three of the four matches with three of the matches extending to a fifth set. In the second contest in Pueblo, Japan won the match with a thrilling 25-23 fifth-set score, while the U.S. bounced back in Colorado Springs with a five-set victory for its lone victory.
Both teams will use the USA Volleyball Cup as final preparations for the 20-team FIVB World Grand Prix that takes place Aug. 2 to Sept 1 in various countries.
General admission ticket prices are $20 for adults and $5 for youth ages 18-and-under for each match, online or at the door. Children 3-and-under will be admitted free. VIP tickets, which include pre- and post-match hospitality, VIP parking, special court-side reserved seating and a chance to meet Coach Kiraly and some of the U.S. Women, will be sold for $150.
Tickets for all three events, which go on sale May 8 at 10 a.m. PT, can be purchased by going to usavolleyballcup.com.