The nine-team international field for the Visit Omaha NORCECA Women’s International Championship volleyball event is set. Along with the world’s top ranked U.S. team, the tournament will feature three-time Olympic Games champion Cuba, 2012 Olympic Games fifth-place team Dominican Republic, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago. The competition at the Ralston Arena will run Sept. 16 to 21.
Members of the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball team, currently ranked No. 1 in the world and 10-1 during the 2013 season, have had the September dates circled on their calendars for months.
“We think it is phenomenal that we get to host a tournament on U.S. soil, since that doesn’t happen often,” said U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly. “The last tournament we hosted of any importance was the 2009 Pan American Cup.”
“People in the Omaha area will get to see all the other strong teams in our zone, and that is probably headed by Dominican Republic, who had a really strong finish in the London Olympics,” Kiraly said. “Dominican Republic is always a very dangerous opponent, as is Cuba, who has a great, great tradition of volleyball success including winning three Olympic gold medals in a row in the 1990s and 2000.
The first three competition days, beginning Sept. 16, will involve pool play with three teams in three pools. Quarterfinal round matches are on Sept. 19, followed by semifinals and classification round matches on Sept. 20. The tournament ends Sept. 21 with the medal round and final classification games. Matches each day will be at 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Tickets for the event can be purchased at the Ralston Arena box office, online at www.homepridetix.com or via phone at 800-440-3741. Ticket options include an all-tournament pass (Tuesday-Saturday), championship weekend package (Friday-Saturday), or daily session tickets. Daily session tickets start at just $20, weekend ticket start at $50 and all session tickets begin at $110.
Kiraly said the winner of the Visit Omaha NORCECA tournament earns a spot in the season-ending FIVB Grand Champions Cup, adding Team USA perceives the international tournament as an important event in the team’s development and future success.
“The Visit Omaha NORCECA championship is an important tournament and we care about it a lot,” Kiraly said. “Ultimately when you try to qualify for the Olympics, you have to go through and face the teams in your zone and this is one of those opportunities.”
Earlier this summer the U.S. hosted No. 3 Japan in the USA Volleyball Cup and won all three matches in the series held in Southern California. Kiraly said that experience in front of large home crowds will benefit Team USA when it comes to hosting the Visit Omaha NORCECA championship in September.