LINCOLN, Nebraska, January 9, 2016 – The United States, ranked
No. 1 in the world by the FIVB, seized its 2016 Olympic Games
berth after defeating No. 7 Dominican Republic 25-19, 25-19,
25-18 Saturday evening to conclude the NORCECA Olympic
Qualification Tournament in front of 10,213 fans at the Pinnacle
Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The United States, which also clinched an Olympic Games spot on
domestic soil back in 2000, finished the tournament 3-0, while
Dominican Republic ended the competition at 2-1. The Dominican
Republic will channel its focus on Olympic qualification with a
last opportunity in May at the World Olympic Qualifier in Japan.
Foluke Akinradewo ignited the American offense with 12 points,
while Nicole Fawcett added 10 points and Jordan Larson nine
points. Brayelin Martinez led Dominican Republic with 15 points,
while Prisilla Rivera and Gina Mambru added seven points.
The U.S. held a 45-37 advantage in kills and benefited from 26
Dominican Republic errors.
The U.S. has now won six of its last seven tournaments including
the 2014 FIVB World Championship, 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix,
Pan American Games, Pan American Cup and NORCECA Continental
Championship. Team USA finished with the bronze at 2015 FIVB
World Cup, its only tournament it failed to win. The Americans
needed to finish first or second at the World Cup to earn an
Olympic bid in the first qualifying tournament.
USA Head Coach Karch Kiraly: “What a fabulous
atmosphere it was here, a huge crowd that was going crazy for
USA. Three former Huskers playing big roles for USA. It is so
nice to have a crowd. It is a huge advantage and we were
fortunate to host this and book our ticket to Rio. We are really
excited to do it in a venue like this and in a place that
supports volleyball so fiercely.
“Teams in your zone you know best because you play them most.
Dominican knows us well, we know them well. Same is true for
Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico. We did have a good game plan. We
are very happy with the players playing a big role in bullding
it and executing it and driving the bus.”
USA Outside Hitter Jordan Larson: “There is no words to
describe it. It is unbelievable. I am happy that all the fans
came out to support us. Obviously we have played Dominican
Republic a lot. We know a lot of about. We had a good game plan
going in and executed well.”
USA middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo: “It is fantastic.
The fan support has been amazing from the get-go. Lincoln did a
really good job. Usually we are overseas and we don’t have
support. I am really happy we are step closer to winning Olympic
Dominican Republic Head Coach Marcos Kwiek: “It is impossible
to play a team like USA without being a good serving team. We
are a good team throughout, but we didn’t play cohesively. In
Japan against a team of this caliber, we will have to do a
better job at serving.”
Dominican Republic Captain Prisilla Rivera: “This is one of
the worst games we’ve had. We need to do better at serving and
with our offense. Today we didn’t play as we should have. We are
going to work a lot on the things we didn’t do well today. It
was the serving and the offense. We are usually a good team
offensively and today we didn’t show up.”