Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bush's Blog Women's Preview; USA vs. Serbia

by Phil Bush

Phil Bush, FIVB Broadcaster
Over the previous three decades, you'd be hard pressed to find someone in athletics with a greater level of expertise in volleyball production and promotion than Phil Bush.  He will be entering his fourth year working for the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) as a broadcaster on the FIVB “Match of the Week.”  He has also handled 17 seasons working for FSN South, ESPNU, CSS and Sun Sports providing both play-by-play and color analysis on volleyball broadcasts.  Through his MavRen Marketing & Productions company, Bush has worked in the production and promotion of volleyball events for over 25 years. 



Friday, 3 PM ET

Team USA has gotten through three matches where they were challenged, but continued to let the process work and have put themselves in a position to win the pool without losing a match.  After starting out with a pair of 3-1 wins against Korea and Brazil, Team USA won 3-0 over China in a match that could have easily gone much longer.  The entire USA roster contributed to the win, and I suspected it might.  On paper, the next two matches look to be easier, with a surprising win-less Serbia team coming next and Turkey to follow.

For the Americans, this match should be looked not just as the fourth match out of five to be played in this pool, it should be looked as part of the overall big picture of winning the gold medal.  Hugh McCutcheon will rotate the entire roster to make sure everyone continues to gain more experience under the bright lights of the Olympic Games. As long as the USA doesn't head into the match under-estimating their opponent, which I don't think they will, then the Americans should be just fine.

Keep watching the USA for:

Believing in the overall process.  This team is focused on the big picture, and each time they are on the floor, they will try to keep making progress towards the overall goal of gold.
Rapidly respond to any runs from Serbia.  The USA has been very good so far about responding to any runs from their opposition.
Megan Hodge/Courtesy Getty Images
The entire bench playing roles.  Megan Hodge came up big against China with 18 kills coming off the bench, including a dominating third and final set.  Those of you who had any doubts about Hodge's ability to come off the bench have certainly been silenced!  Danielle Scott-Arruda had a monster second set as part of that incredible run the USA put on where despite being down early, rallied to win the set 26-15.
Keep using a variety of players in roles.  I think we will see the USA use both Courtney Thompson and Tayyiba Haneef-Park in the double switch, and watch for the USA block to really come up big as the team continues to hone its game.  Just because they've all but locked up the pool doesn't mean they're going to take it easy.  It's extremely important to not only win, but play well as they head into the single elimination quarterfinals.

This match against Serbia will not be easy.  The Serbians, while not having won a match yet, took both China and Korea to 3-1 before losing to Turkey in straight sets.   A team this good may be disappointed and the reality is that they will also be angry, and play with a lot of passion against Team USA.  They know that a win here would be viewed as the upset of the tournament.

Serbian Player to Watch:  Jovana Brakocevic
Jovana Brakocevic
The big 6-5 right side should be the focus of the American block, as she can be very dangerous in space.  She's had a disappointing Olympics so far, only putting up a total of 12 points in three matches, including a big goose egg against the South Koreans.  So why is she the key player to watch you ask?  Two reasons: the first being she appears to have snapped out of the funk, racking up nine points in their most recent match against Turkey.  Secondly, she has the pedigree to be great.  In 2011 alone, her awards included World Grand Prix Best Scorer, MVP at the 2011 European Championships and Best Sportswoman by the Serbian Olympic Committee.

I don’t think for a second this will be an easy match.  Serbia is too talented to take an opportunity against the USA lightly, and make a big time statement to the rest of the world.  They may be disappointed with their performance in the first three matches, but they will come into this match knowing that they still have a chance to get out of the pool, and could begin a whole new run for the Serbs!

Next Match:  USA vs. Turkey - August 5th at 3:00 PM ET

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1 comment:

  1. Been really great watching the US dominate in volleyball, indoor and beach!