San Juan Capistrano will once again be the home of Olympic-style volleyball this summer when Japan’s national women’s team plays the U.S. at JSerra Catholic High School.
Last year, it was the men’s national team that faced off against Argentina for a five-set exhibition match. This year, the local private school will be just one of three venues in a first-ever, several-day tournament dubbed the USA Volleyball Cup, according to the Associated Press.
It will feature last year’s London Olympics silver medalist Team USA versus Japan, who took the bronze, on all three days, with JSerra being the site of final play.
The action will begin Wednesday, July 10 at UC San Diego. Then two days later, the two national teams travel north to play at California State University, Long Beach. On July 13, the tournament wraps up at JSerra.
Organizers hope the event will grow into a series of future matches and expand to include the U.S. men's national team and venues outside of Southern California, reports the AP as published at San Antonio Express-News
The U.S. women are currently ranked No. 1 in the world, while Japan is ranked No. 3, according to Swiss-based Federation Internationale de Volleyball, the international federation that oversees the sport.
The women’s team is based out of Orange County.
“I think first of all, it's great for us from a team perspective to be able to host a world-class competitor, but in particular to be able to do so near our host city of Anaheim at least once a year,” said Nicole Davis, a two-time U.S. Olympic Games libero, in a FIVB press release.
“Anytime we can put on a USA jersey and compete in front of a home crowd, it's a huge benefit to us in terms of growing the game in our country. It is a special opportunity for us to be able to connect with the volleyball community that we otherwise wouldn't be able to do,” Davis said.
According to the FIVB, both teams – which are intense rivals – will use the USA Volleyball Cup as final preparations for the 20-team FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix, taking place from Aug. 2 to Sept. 1 in various countries. USA has won the last three FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix events, which is the top annual international volleyball competition for women.