Lausanne, Switzerland, April 19, 2018 - Introducing the top teams in the current world rankings, the second installment in this series takes a look at the team ranked number two in women's volleyball - 2014 world champions the United States.
Fifth place at the final staging of the FIVB World Grand Prix, bronze at the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup. Last year did not run as smoothly as expected for the US women’s team, which has become accustomed to success.
However, that could all change in 2018. The inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League is the perfect preparation for the Japan 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championships, where the number two team in the world rankings, under the guidance of coach Karch Kiraly, is hungry to defend the title it won back in 2014.
“We do not have a regular top league in the USA. This means that the players are scattered all over the world,” star player Jordan Larsson said in an interview with FIVB.com. "
When we meet up at the US team, we need a lot of tough matches together, in order to grow as a team. Travelling together helps too, and this is another reason why the new FIVB Volleyball Nations League is perfect for us.”
The new format of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League means that volleyball fans can now watch the best teams go head to head around the world, throughout the entire week. “This way, the volleyball world can continue to grow,” said Larson.
The US team travels to Japan, Thailand, China and Argentina in the preliminary round of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. They launch their campaign from 15th to 17th May at home in Lincoln, Nebraska – the home of Jordan Larson. Team USA will host world number seven Italy, number 12 Turkey and number 22 Poland at the 7,900-seat Bob Devaney Sports Center.
“Any time we get to host any part of an international competition on American soil, we're pumped because we love playing in front of American volleyball fans,” said Kiraly. “But getting to play a preliminary week of the Volleyball Nations League in Lincoln, Nebraska, with the amazing support and love that community has for our sport, leaves us ecstatic.”
It is here, in the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League, that the US team is out to embark on a new success story. Since the start of the decade, the US women have won the FIVB World Grand Prix on four occasions, have made it onto the podium four times in the FIVB World Cup and FIVB World Grand Champions Cup, have won two Olympic medals (silver at London 2012 and bronze at Rio de Janeiro 2016), and were crowned FIVB world champions at Italy 2014.
Larson is in no doubt about the team’s goal: “We want to be the number one team at every tournament we play at.”
Star of the team: Jordan Larson
Jordan Larson is particularly looking forward to the US team’s home outing in Lincoln. After all, it will take place in her home state of Nebraska. The world-famous volleyball star still regards this place as home. Here she is so famous that she has been given the nickname Governor, or Gov for short. It is from here that Jordan, who once used to drive her father’s tractor through the town, conquered the volleyball world.
An outstanding hitter, she has led the US national team to many successes. She was involved in three title-winning campaigns in the FIVB World Grand Prix (2010, 2011, 2015), has stood on the podium twice in both the World Cup and the World Grand Champions Cup, and won the World Championship title in 2014. Her ultimate dream is Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020 – after all, this is the only medal missing from her impressive collection, having already won silver (2012) and bronze (2016). That collection also includes three titles in a row at the FIVB Club World Championships with Dynamo Kazan (2014) and Eczacibasi Istanbul (2015, 2016). She is the only player on the planet to have achieved this feat. Larson’s outstanding performances have also earned her the honour of being named MVP at many tournaments.
“I think she’s probably surprised a few people who might have wondered how she would hold up internationally to be such an elite outside hitter in the world of international volleyball,” Kiraly said.
Her father Kevin points to “a lot of God-given talent, passion and hard work” as the reasons for the incredible success of his only daughter. In 2015 and 2016, she was named USA Volleyball Female Indoor Player of Year.
Jordan home's town of Hooper in Nebraska and its 830 inhabitants remains close to her heart, and her success has helped put the town on the map. When she was 12 years old, her parents asked her what she wanted to do with her life – and they were astonished by their daughter's reply: “I told them that I wanted to be an Olympian. They thought I was crazy. But I proved that you can achieve what you want.”