COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team announced that Rainbow Wahine senior opposite Nikki Taylor has been selected as one of 12 athletes who will compete in the 2016 Pan American Cup scheduled to take place July 2-10 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The team will train in Colorado Springs before taking off for the Dominican Republic on Thursday morning.
The 12 athletes are either still in college or recently completed their eligibility from their respective college. Taylor is one of two opposites on the squad along with Florida's Alex Holston on a young team that will get a chance to shine internationally as Team USA looks towards the future. The team was trimmed to a dozen players from an original training roster of 19.
"God has blessed me with an amazing opportunity to represent my country, the people of Hawai'i, the Rainbow Wahine, and my family," says Taylor. "I am feeling nothing but blessed and excited for this journey!"
"The tryouts were extensive and exciting," continues Taylor. "The volleyball was played at such a high level that it was very challenging and competitive!! Practices were long, but highly energizing and very fun!"
Since the Pan Am Cup runs concurrently with the World Grand Prix, U.S. National Team head coach Karch Kiraly named Pittsburgh head coach Dan Fisher to lead the Pan American team. Last year, Fisher served in a similar role, leading the U.S. team to the gold medal defeating Brazil in the Pan American Cup's championship match.
In addition to Fisher, the Pan American Cup staff includes BYU head coach Heather Olmstead as assistant coach, Arkansas associate head coach Jon Newman-Gonchar as team leader/assistant coach and Arkansas State assistant head coach Tristan Johnson will serve as the scout coach.
"Training has been going great," Fisher said. "We have a lot of players who are new to the USA system, and so there has been a fast learning curve. We are going to get to learn a lot about some younger players for the future of USA Volleyball with this tournament."
The U.S. squad is part of the six-team "Pool B" with Argentina, Costa Rica, Cuba, Peru, and Trinidad & Tobago. The U.S. team will begin pool play on July 2 against Peru. Pool A is comprised of Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. (See full schedule below)
The Americans have won the Pan American Cup three of the past four years and four total times since the inaugural event in 2002.
U.S. Women's Roster for Pan American Cup
Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1 - Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, West Aurora, Illinois, University of Wisconsin)
3 - Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Edmond, Oklahoma, Penn State)
4 - Megan Courtney (OH, 6-1, Dayton, Ohio, Penn State)
5 - Brittany Howard (OH, 6-3, Los Altos, California, Stanford University)
6 - Madi Kingdon (OH, 6-1, Phoenix, Arizona, University of Arizona)
7 - Taylor Simpson (OH, 6-3, Colorado Springs, Colorado, University of Colorado)
10 - Alex Holston (OPP, 6-1, Olney, Maryland, University of Florida)
11 - Nikki Taylor (OPP, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, University of Hawaii)
12 – Carly Wopat (MB, 6-2, Santa Barbara, California, Stanford University)
13 - Rhamat Alhassan (M, 6-4, Glenarden, Maryland, University of Florida)
14 - Kelsie Payne (M, 6-3, Austin, Texas, University of Kansas)
22 - Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Cypress, California, University of Nebraska)
Head Coach: Dan Fisher (University of Pittsburgh)
Assistant Coach: Heather Olmstead (BYU)
Assistant Coach/Team Leader: Jon Newman-Gonchar (University of Arkansas)
Scout: Tristan Johnson (Arkansas State University)
Athletic Trainer: Peter Higbie
2016 Pan American Cup Schedule (times ET)
July 2: USA vs. Peru, 4 p.m.
July 3: USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 4 p.m.
July 4: USA vs. Cuba, 6 p.m.
July 5: USA vs. Costa Rica, 4 p.m.
July 6: USA vs Argentina, 6 p.m.
July 8: Quarterfinals
July 9: Semifinals
July 10: Medal Round