USA Women volleyball dominate FIVB Grand Prix and win Gold at Pan Am Games

This past weekend was exemplary for Team USA’s women’s volleyball teams.

With a little less than 375 days to go until the flame is lit inside legendary Maracana Stadium, a majority of the squad swept all seven matches culminating with a three set win over China 25-23, 25-19, 25-18 (even though China hung tough during most of the opening set briefly holding a four point lead early in the match) at the CenturyLink Arena in proud volleyball country that is Omaha, Nebraska.

A nationwide television audience saw history in the making as NBC televised its’ first ever international volleyball match outside of the Olympic Games.  The American women won this tournament for a record sixth time.

Led by a pair of international rookies, recent college graduates Karsta Lowe (UCLA) was named Tournament MVP in helping spark Karch Kiraly’s team in overall scoring with 79 points to go along with 65 kills.  With Alicia Glass recovering from an injury, Molly Kreklow (Missouri) ran the offense like a finely tuned orchestra conductor in being voted as the Best Setter in this round-robin tournament.  Both ladies were joined on the All FIVB Grand Prix Tournament team by Christa Dietzen (Second Best Blocker) and Kelsey Robinson (Second Best Outside Hitter).

Fourteen other ladies also scooped up some hardware of their own on Saturday night, outlasting the 2012 London Olympic Gold Medal winners from Brazil to claim gold at the Pan American Games in Toronto.

Up ahead for the three-time indoor/beach Olympic volleyball gold medal winner in Karch Kiraly…

A chance to earn one of the two Olympic berths for next summer in Rio will take place at the FIVB Volleyball World Cup, which runs from August 22 through September 6 in Tokyo, Japan.  A Who’s Who of women’s volleyball royalty will be playing 11 games in this event comprising of 12 nations–including Brazil, Japan, China, Italy, and Russia.

If somehow Team USA misses that chance to earn that coveted Olympic berth in the Land of the Rising Sun, there will be one more pre-Olympic North American-Carribean Championships in the Dominican Republic that takes place from May 10-16, 2016.

Other Olympic news of note

Two time defending Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh-Jennings continues to rehab her dislocated shoulder, in which she injured it for the second time on July 10–this after sitting out a month shortly after suffering a similar injury on May 27.

She hopes to return to the sand sometime in the middle of August with her new partner, 2012 London Olympics silver medalist and perennial AVP winner April Ross.

It did not surprise me that Boston formally withdrew their United States bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics on Monday.  With their geography in having most of their residential streets and expressways practically on top of each other and the simple fact that Bostonians refused to pay higher taxes just to land the Games themselves, this announcement will hopefully give new hope to a former Olympic city who knows how to put on such a spectacular event.

In case you were wondering, San Francisco and Washington, DC hope to join the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympic hosts in Los Angeles.  All bids have to resubmitted by September 15, but the full IOC vote will occur sometime in 2017.

For the record–Budapest, Hungary along with Hamburg, Germany and former Olympic hosts of Paris, France and the 1960 site in Rome, Italy have already placed formal bids.  However, don’t count out the 2015 Pan Am Games host in Toronto, who staged a spectacular event witnessed by US fans on “The Worldwide Leader in Sports”.  ESPN has shown since acquiring the U.S. Open tennis rights from the original longtime carriers in CBS Sports that they can survive (even though cable subscribers are dwindling at a pace not seen since 2008) without covering NASCAR or IndyCar auto races on a full-time basis.

Personally, I hope L.A. wins the nod because they know how to put on a great show.  When I saw the 1984 Olympics on television as a youngster, there were very few negative moments–outside of Zola Budd tripping Mary Decker Slaney in the 1,500 meter dash.  Everybody really enjoyed themselves, including “The General” in Robert Montgomery Knight in helping guide college phenoms at the time including Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, and Wayman Tisdale to the last ever American Olympic basketball gold medal won by amateur players.  And with the news coming more fast and furious with land being developed in two parts of Southern California, only time will tell before Christmas whether or not the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders or maybe the San Diego Chargers might be packing their bags so the nation’s second largest TV market could host NFL football for the first time since the Rams packed up from their one-time home in the “Big A” (now the “Big E”) in Anaheim.  If you want more proof, a recent meeting at aging Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego was attended by no more than twelve people.  My guess is, it depends on what the local politicans will carry out some plans and with the two widely discussed proposals to build those multi-million dollar complexes conveniently located next to the freeways, it will be interesting to see what happens towards the end of this upcoming NFL regular season.

Next time I will give an Olympic update will be sometime in late August, as I plan to give you the loyal MPB’s and other fans of this blog the 411 on rugby sevens.  Combining some elements of Australian rules football and the tackling (minus the extra set of shoulder and knee pads for protection) along with the wide-open running commonly seen in American football–the updated timing rules definitely make this sport very TV friendly.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your week.


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