USA Volleyball gets to play at home this week in Bossier City

GOLDEN GIRL: Annie Drews is one of two returning USA Volleyball players who claimed Olympic gold in the Tokyo Games, along with four other alternates on the squad, who are beginning the drive toward the 2024 Olympics with international competition here this week.

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For the first time since winning the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, the U.S. Women’s National Team will play on U.S. soil when it competes in the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Nations League this week at Brookshire Arena in Bossier City.

Play begins today and runs through Sunday.

The Louisiana stop, the only preliminary round hosted in the United States, kicks off three weeks of VNL preliminary-round competition. Top teams in the preliminary round advance to the final round July 13-17. Shreveport-Bossier hosted the U.S. Women’s last competition in the United States when the team qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2019.

“We are very happy to return to Shreveport-Bossier City as this is where the magic began,” said USA Volleyball president and CEO Jamie Davis. “The fans and the cities were hugely supportive at the 2019 Olympic qualification tournament, and it is only fitting that we come back to celebrate together our first-ever women’s Olympic gold medal that we won in Tokyo. The VNL will showcase the world’s best teams and will include a rematch of the Olympic final where the U.S. Women defeated Brazil.”

The U.S. Women, ranked No. 1 in the world and the three-time defending VNL champions, will take on No. 7 Dominican Republic tonight at 8 o’clock. No. 11 ranked Germany faces 2020 Olympic silver medalist and World No. 2 Brazil in the first game at 5 p.m.

Other countries competing at the local event are No. 9 ranked Japan, Poland (12), Korea (14), and Canada (18). Tickets start at $35 each.

After playing on opening night, the U.S. Women will get a break before facing Canada at 8 Friday night. The marque match will be Saturday at 8.p.m., when the U.S. Women take on Brazil, the team they beat in the Tokyo Olympic final. They will close things out on Sunday against Japan at 3 p.m.

Seven veteran national team players and seven rookies make up the U.S. Women’s National Team. Leading the way for the U.S. Women are Olympic gold medalists Annie Drews and Jordan Thompson, Olympic alternates Lauren Carlini, Tori Dixon, Madi Kingdon Rishel and Sarah Wilhite Parsons, and 2019 VNL veteran Dana Rettke.

Drews and Thompson are both opposites; Carlini plays setter; Dixon and Rettke are middle blockers and Parsons and Rishel play outside hitter. Head coach for the U.S. Women’s team is Karch Kiraly, who won gold medals as a player in both indoor and beach volleyball before leading the women’s team to its first-ever gold medal in Tokyo.

“I am especially excited for Week 1,” said Carlini. “We’re starting in the United States. We are playing some of our NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation) teams. That’s just very exciting. It’s a good way to start the tournament.”

Tournament schedule:

Today: Germany vs. Brazil, 5 p.m.; USA vs. Dominican Republic, 8 p.m.

Wednesday: Poland vs. Canada, 5 p.m.; Korea vs. Japan, 8 p.m.

Thursday: Brazil vs. Poland, 2 p.m.; Germany vs. Japan, 5 p.m.; Canada vs. Dominican

Republic, 8 p.m.

Friday: Germany vs. Korea, 2 p.m.; Dominican Republic vs. Brazil, 5 p.m.; USA vs. Canada, 8 p.m.

Saturday: Korea vs. Poland, 2 p.m.; Dominican Republic vs. Japan, 5 p.m.; USA vs. Brazil, 8 p.m.

Sunday: Poland vs. Germany, Noon; Japan vs. USA, 3 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Volleyball World