The final preliminary round begins Friday in Hong Kong and continues through Sunday with three pool matches. The Americans are in position to clinch a spot in the six-team World Grand Prix final round.
Team USA (4-2) currently resides in fifth place with 12 points, and a combination of six points during the final weekend would assure the U.S. a spot in the finals.
The U.S., ranked fourth in the FIVB world ranking, holds a four-point lead over seventh-place Netherlands (3-3 record, 8 points) and a five-point lead over Dominican Republic (2-4, 7 points). Italy is in sixth place with 12 points, but trails the U.S. in points scored ratio.
The Americans play Germany, Thailand and China this weekend.
Thailand (1-5) is currently in 10th place. Germany, which beat the U.S. in four sets during the second match of the tournament, is in eighth place. China, ranked second in the world, is in fourth place and being the host for the final, they have immunity through the preliminary stages.
The top five teams in the overall standings, plus China, advance to the six-team FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round to be held Aug. 25-29 in Ningbo, China.
Brazil leads the World Grand Prix with 15 points and a 5-1 record. Brazil has won the past two World Grand Prix titles and five of the last six events. Japan and Poland, both with 5-1 records and 15 points, are second and third, respectively.
U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon announced his roster selections for Hong Kong on Thursday, the day rosters are turned into the designated control committee. Based on FIVB rules, each team can carry 14 players on the roster for each weekend, but must designate 12 prior to each match as available.
Tom stepped into the starting lineup after the U.S. went 1-2 during the opening weekend and averaged 3.64 points per set with 35 kills, three blocks and two aces. Tom added 16 digs and 31 excellent receptions on 61 service receptions.
Team USA has used the block effectively in the first six matches of the FIVB World Grand Prix. The U.S. holds a 111-37 block advantage over its opponents. The Americans are averaging 4.8 blocks per set, compared to their opponents' 1.6 blocks per set. The U.S. has four players among the top nine blockers in the tournament, including Akinradewo, who ranks ninth among the tournament's scoring leaders with 77 points (49 kills, 25 blocks, 3 aces).
Penn State grad Alisha Glass, playing just her second tournament with the national team, leads all tournament setters with a 12.61 running sets average through the first two preliminary round weekends.
USC grad Nicole Davis, who was not active on the daily roster during Pool D, ranks sixth in the Best Digger category with 3.04 digs per set despite not playing the last three matches.
Stanford grad Cassidy Krug won a pair of titles at the AT&T National Diving Championships over the weekend.
Krug won the three-meter championship on Saturday at the Student Recreation Center on the campus of Texas A&M. It was her second individual national title, and the first since 2007. She also won her third three-meter synchronized diving title with first-time partner Kassidy Cook, who was fifth in the 3-meter event.
"I didn't even compete in this meet last year. When I came back, I just wanted to have fun, but now I have my sights set on 2012," said Krug, who stopped diving following the 2008 Olympic Trials and returned in late 2009. "It's two years out, and this is a good measuring stick. London is my goal."
Krug was the NCAA Diver of the Year in 2007, when she won national titles in the one and three-meter events. She is a three-time Pac-10 Champion.
USA Water Polo
Stanford sophomore Annika Dries scored three goals and the United States women's national water polo team downed host New Zealand, 17-8, at the FINA World Cup in Christchurch on Thursday.
"They way they were playing defensively we knew that we were going to get opportunities on goal," U.S. coach Adam Krikorian said. "They played a big zone and really dared our shooters on the outside to shoot. You know if teams are going to do that we are going step up to the plate and be aggressive, get on our legs and not be afraid to shoot the ball and that¹s what we did."
The Americans finished pool play with a 2-1 mark and will meet Hungary, which finished third in its pool, on Friday.
"Offensively they are potent and have a lot of weapons," Krikorian said. "Their center has been playing great, and they have some of the best shooters in the world so we are going to have to be very sharp defensively if we want to come away with a win."
The Kiwis scored first but Stanford grads Lolo Silver and Brenda Villa scored goals to put the U.S. in the lead for good. Dries also scored to make it 3-1.
Silver, Villa and Cardinal junior Melissa Seidemann each scored twice for the Americans, who play the Hungarians for the first time since losing to them at the Dutch Trophy tournament in 2009.
USA Women's Basketball
Stanford grad and two-time All-American center Jayne Appel was one of four players added to the USA Basketball Women's National Team pool, it was announced Wednesday.
"It's kind of more of a sigh of relief, after having gone to the camps when I wasn't able to play and having to watch on the sidelines," Appel said. "It makes it even more worthwhile. It also helped me want to be a part of it even more and makes me want to be able to contribute more into the future."
Appel has twice been a member of gold medal-winning USA Basketball teams: at the 2006 USA FIBA Americas under-18 Championship team and the 2007 U.S. Pan-American Games squad.
"Any opportunity you have to come out and compete and play at that level is an opportunity that anyone would look forward to," Appel said. "Anything that coach (Gino) Auriemma wants me to do, I'll do it."
Stanford junior Chad La Tourette earned a silver medal in the 1,500 free at the Pan Pacific Championships in Irvine on Wednesday evening.
La Tourette went 14:54.55 to finish second only to Olympic bronze medalist and Canadian Ryan Cochrane, who swam 14:49.47, the world's fastest time of the year.
Stanford grads Tobias Oriwol and Paul Kornfeld and sophomore Matthew Swanston all competed for Canada.
Oriwol was 11th in the 100 back in 55.34 and Swanston was 24th in 56.34. Kornfeld went 26.39 in the 50 fly to place 30th.