Fourth time the volleyball charm?
Eight players with Olympic experience, including a middle blocker heading for her fourth Olympics, have made the 12-player U.S. women's Olympic volleyball roster announced Wednesday.
At age 35, Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) ties a USA Volleyball record shared with Tara Cross-Battle, who played in her fourth Olympics in 2004. Scott-Arruda still is looking for her first medal after competing in the 1996 (7th-place finish), 2000 (4th) and 2004 (5th) Olympic Games and has been a part of the U.S. women's national team since May 1994.
Players selected to their third Olympic Games include setter Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu), outside hitter Logan Tom (Salt Lake City), middle blocker Heather Bown (Yorba Linda) and libero Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas). Opposite Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills), setter Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) and outside hitter Ogonna Nnamani (Bloomington, Ill.) are all repeat selections from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Newcomers to the Olympic Games are outside hitters Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.) and Kim Willoughby (Napoleonville, La.), middle blocker Jennifer Joines (Milpitas, Calif.) and libero Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.).
The 2008 Olympic roster is nearly identical to the one that captured the bronze medal at the 2007 FIVB World Cup, qualifying the U.S. for the Beijing Games. Willoughby is the only roster change.
The U.S. women's team is currently ranked fourth in the world by FIVB, the international governing body of volleyball. Team USA finished fourth at the FIVB World Grand Prix, a 12-team tournament with three consecutive weekend preliminary rounds in different countries followed immediately by a six-team round-robin event over five days. The U.S. finished 7-2 in the preliminary round stops held in Japan, Poland and Chinese Taipei and won two of five matches in the Final Round held at Yokohama, Japan, from July 8-13.
For the Olympic Games, the U.S. is grouped into Pool A with host China, Cuba, Japan, Poland and Venezuela.
The top four teams in both Olympic preliminary round pools advance to the quarterfinals, when knockout play begins.
-- Philip Hersh
Photo: Kim Willoughby goes up for the kill during an exhibition match against Brazil at the U.S. Air Force Academy's Clune Arena in June. Photo: Associated Press / U.S. Air Force, Mike Kaplan