U.S. Squad’s Quest for 2009 FIVB World Grand Prix Championship Starts July 31st

In only one week, the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team will begin its quest for the championship at the 2009 FIVB World Grand Prix. Former Penn State All Americans Nicole Fawcett and Christa Harmotto are listed among the 19 members on the team. (Fourteen players will be picked each week, and the 14 can change as long as they are from the list of 19).

Here’s the USA Women’s Team Roster and Team Profile

There are unconfirmed reports that the matches will be televised live on Universal Sports (as long as the US is still in the competition).

This will be the 17th edition of the World Grand Prix, which is considered the premier annual international volleyball tournament for women. In the previous 16 tournaments, Brazil (which won the tournament in 2008) has won the championship 7 times, Russia 3 times, Cuba and the United States twice each (the USA in 1995 and 2001), and China and the Netherlands once each.

This year, there will be three preliminary rounds, with Week 1 scheduled from July 31 to August 2, Week 2 from August 7-9, and Week 3 from August 14-16.

In Week 1, The U.S. Women will compete in Rio de Janeiro, in Pool A, against Germany on July 31, Puerto Rico on August 1, and against World #1 Brazil in a highly anticipated match on August 2.

In Week 2, the U.S. will compete in Taipei, in Pool D, against the Dominican Republic (August 7), the Netherlands (August 8), and Germany (August 9).

In Week 3, the U.S will compete in Bangkok in Pool I, against Russia (August 14), Puerto Rico (August 15) and Thailand (August 16).

The best five teams after the preliminary rounds, plus host country Japan, will qualify for the championship round, which will take place in Tokyo from August 19-23. These six teams will compete in a 15 match, round-robin tournament, to decide the 2009 FIVB World Grand Prix Champion.