Big time volleyball comes to Coussoulis Arena at Cal State San Bernardino at 7 p.m. Friday. The women’s national teams from China and the United States square off in the final match of the USA Volleyball Cup.
The United States team, coached by Karch Kiraly, is the top-ranked team in the world while Chino is currently No. 3.
If the previous matches are any indication, Inland Empire volleyball enthusiasts will be in for quite a show. The teams played on Tuesday in front of 3,600 spectators at UC Irvine and it was China prevailing 3-2, winning the decisive fifth set 17-15.
This will be the fourth and final match of the series. The teams started the series in Hawaii, splitting two matches with each country getting a 3-0 sweep.
“We have reached out to USA volleyball to try and get events here before and this is the first time we were able to work something out,” Cal State San Bernardino coach Kim Cherniss said. “This is as big as the Olympic basketball team or hockey team and it’s the year before the Olympics. It is exciting to have an event of this caliber here.”
The event was the idea of Craig Thompson, CEO of Mindspring Sport who took the idea to Kiraly. Both thought some sort of international competition would help grow the sport but also help serve as tune-ups for the respective national teams.
“This is great competition and gives the coach a chance to experiment with a lineup without worrying about it winning or losing a major international event like the Olympics,” Thompson said. “It’s also great way to get our sport out there and have our target audience get a close-up look at our Olympic athletes.”
This is the third year of the USA Volleyball Cup with the USA playing Japan in the first in 2013 and Brazil last year.
Earlier this month the USA Team held a scrimmage at Rancho Cucamonga High School that drew almost 3,000. Thompson is hoping that same kind of crowd shows up for the final showdown against China.