Sports

USA women prepare for FIVB Grand Prix Final Round

Akinradewo, Tom among statistical leaders in tournament

The United States women's national volleyball team is seeded third for the 8-team FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round, which begins Wednesday in Macau.

The Americans (8-1, 23 points) finished second in the 16-team preliminary round, but was seeded behind host China and undefeated Brazil (9-0, 27 points).

The U.S., defending Grand Prix champions, will face Brazil, Italy (7-2) and Japan (6-3) in Pool B.

"Our focus has, and will continue to be, on the improvement of our team," U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon said. "We are playing better volleyball now than we were in Louhe (first preliminary weekend in China). So we're encouraged by our performance here and we hope we can continue that trend. We are in a challenging pool for the finals, but at this stage of the competition, all the teams are strong. So we'll do the best we can and see what happens."

In Pool A, China (6-3) will contend with Russia (8-1), Serbia (6-3) and Thailand (5-4).

The Americans open the Final Round against Japan, with the match beginning at 8 p.m. Pacific time on Tuesday night.

Opposite Destinee Hooker is the U.S. leading scorer with 127 points (109 kills, 13 blocks, 5 aces) and ranks seventh in the tournament, despite not playing in the final match of the preliminary round. She also ranks sixth in Best Spiker with a 42.75 kill percent (109 of 255).

Stanford grad Foluke Akinradewo has scored 99 points (64 kills, 29 blocks, 6 aces) for 19th place in Best Scorer, despite resting on the final day of the preliminary round.

According to official FIVB stats, Akinradewo has converted 64 of 113 attacks into points for a 56.6 kill percent and would rank atop the Best Spiker category if she had the minimum 15 percent of her team's total attacks. Akinradewo ranks second in Best Blocker with 0.97 blocks per set, despite not playing the last match.

Stanford grad Logan Tom ranks 11th in Best Server with 0.33 aces per set as part of her 51 points in the tournament. Despite only playing five of the nine preliminary round matches, she ranks 72nd in scoring.

Boys' youth volleyball

The U.S. Boys' Youth National Team, coached by Stanford assistant Ken Shibuya, begins the second round of the FIVB Boys' Youth World Championship in Argentina on Wednesday with the chance to finish as high as ninth in the tournament.

The U.S. will face Iran on Wednesday in Pool H, followed by Russia on Thursday and Korea on Friday.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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