The top-ranked U.S. women’s volleyball team will face perennial power Cuba and rising Mexico in the opening round of the nine-team NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship Sept. 16 to 21 at Ralston Arena.
Team USA, 16-1 this year after earning the 2012 Olympic Games silver medal, plays Mexico on Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. to open the tournament. The Americans then take on rival Cuba on Sept. 18 at 8 p.m.
Those three teams are in Pool B. Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago will face each other in Pool A. Puerto Rico, Canada and St. Lucia are in pool C.
Matches are set for 4, 6 and 8 p.m. each day.
“Omaha will get to see all the other strong teams in our zone, and that is probably headed by Dominican Republic, who had a really strong finish in the London Olympics with a four-way tie for fifth place,” U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said. “Dominican Republic is always a very dangerous opponent, as is Cuba, who has a great, great tradition of volleyball success, including winning three Olympic gold medals in a row in the 1990s and 2000. Mexico is improving with their young outside hitter Samantha Bricio.”
The U.S. team is now in Sapporo, Japan, attempting to win its fourth straight FIVB World Grand Prix, the premier annual women’s international volleyball tournament.
The Americans finished the preliminary phase with an 8-1 record, with their only loss to Brazil. They open the six-team round-robin final round on Wednesday against the same Brazil team that also won the 2012 Olympics.
The U.S. will also meet Serbia on Thursday, China on Friday, Italy on Saturday and host Japan on Sunday. Team USA beat Serbia and Japan in the preliminary round.
Dominican Republic finished the FIVB World Grand Prix with a 6-3 record and in 10th place. Cuba used a young squad that improved with each match at the World Grand Prix, gaining valuable international experience while going 0-9 against the world’s top teams.
Tickets for the Ralston event can be purchased online at www.homepridetix.com, via phone at 800-440-3741 or at the Ralston Arena box office. Single day tickets start at $20 and include all three games for that day. Championship weekend packages also are available for $50 and include all Friday and Saturday games.
Quarterfinal round matches are on Sept. 19, followed by semifinals on Sept. 20. The gold- and bronze-medal matches conclude the tournament on Sept. 21.
The winner of the tournament earns a spot in the season-ending FIVB Grand Champions Cup this November in Japan.
“Nebraska is a great volleyball state and great volleyball community,” Kiraly said. “It is a fantastic place to host a tournament.”
Dominican Republic vs. Costa Rica, 4 p.m. (Pool A)
Puerto Rico vs. St. Lucia, 6 p.m. (Pool C)
United States vs. Mexico, 8 p.m. (Pool B)
Costa Rica vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 4 p.m. (Pool A)
Canada vs. St. Lucia, 6 p.m. (Pool C)
Mexico vs. Cuba, 8 p.m. (Pool B)
Dominican Republic vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 4 p.m. (Pool A)
Puerto Rico vs. Canada, 6 p.m. (Pool C)
United States vs. Cuba, 8 p.m. (Pool B)
9th-place classification final, 4 p.m.
Quarterfinals, 6 p.m.
Quarterfinals, 8 p.m.
7th/8th-place classification final, 4 p.m.
Semifinals, 6 p.m.
Semifinals, 8 p.m.
Fifth-place match, 4 p.m.
Bronze-medal match, 6 p.m.
Championship finals, 8 p.m.