No. 1 ranked US women’s volleyball team named; aims for first Olympic gold medal – OlympicTalk
The 12 athletes who will compete for the United States’ first Olympic gold medal in women’s volleyball were announced Monday by USA Volleyball.
The team’s average age is 25, with the majority of players making their Olympic debuts in Tokyo next month. Only four – outside hitters Kim hill, Jordan larson and Kelsey robinson, and central blocker Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson – return of the 2016 team which won bronze in Rio. Larson and Akinradewo Gunderson were also part of the London silver medalist squad.
Larson, 34, said the Tokyo Olympics will be his last tournament with the national team. Akinradewo Gunderson, 33, makes a comeback in the sport since the birth of his son Olukayode Ayodele end of 2019.
The U.S. women’s team has entered the Olympics as the top contender in the past, but has never managed to win a coveted gold medal in the 11 Olympic tournaments the team has competed in, winning two medals from silver and three bronze.
Once again a favorite ahead of Tokyo, the United States are ranked No.1 in the world and have won the last two Volleyball Nations League tournament titles. The team finished second behind defending Olympic champions China at the 2019 World Cup.
The United States currently leads the 2021 Nations League standings, ahead of Turkey and Brazil, finalists for the past two years.
Brazil, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalists, are ranked second in the world, followed by China and Turkey.
Karch kiraly, two-time Olympic indoor and once beach volleyball champion, heads the team. Kiraly was named the national team’s head coach after the London Olympics, leading the team to the 2014 world title and 2016 Olympic bronze.
“We are extremely grateful for the extra time that the postponement of the Olympics has provided,” Kiraly said in a statement from USA Volleyball. “Our core group of 23 women’s national teams have done an incredible job over the past 14 months, setting us up for phenomenal confidence, connection, purpose and performance.”
The eight Olympic rookies, who all played in the Nations Volleyball League, named to the team are outside hitters Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, opposites Annie drew and Jordan thompson, smugglers Micha hancock and Jordyn poulter, middle Chiaka Ogbogu and Haleigh washington, and libero Justine Wong Orantes. Hancock competed in the first Youth Olympic Games in 2010, winning silver.
Poulter is the youngest member of the team at 23, while Larson is the oldest.
“Each of the 12 people bring unique skills and qualities that make them the right fit for the job,” Kiraly said. “This collection of special people who are elite volleyball players are about to have a fierce Olympic run.”
Six alternates were also chosen: passer Lauren Carlini, outside hitters Catherine plummer and Sarah Wilhite Parsons, middle blockers Tori Dixon and Hannah tapp, and libero Megan Courtney.
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