Long Beach State Olympics Volleyball

USA Volleyball Hosts Netherlands in Pre-Olympic Matches This Week

The United States women’s national volleyball team will get a pre-Olympic Games tuneup in Long Beach this week, as the Americans host the Netherlands at Long Beach State’s Walter Pyramid on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday evenings–all at 7pm.

It’s the last chance to see the No. 2-ranked team in the world before they head to Paris to try to defend their historic gold medal. The series of matches are dubbed the USA Volleyball Cup, and are expected to sell out as they did two years ago.

“This will be our Olympic Team’s final tuneup before we depart for France,” U.S. Head Coach Karch Kiraly said in a statement. “It will also be a great chance for our fans to show their support, and for our team to express its gratitude and appreciation. We hope to see as many of you as possible there, so let’s Pack the Pyramid, and Prep for Paris!” 

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The US beat Netherlands for the bronze in Rio in 2016 while the Netherlands took down the Americans at the 2018 World Championships. The two teams’ last meeting was the 2021 Volleyball Nations League, which the USA swept.

There aren’t any Long Beach natives on the USA women’s roster, but there is one player with strong local ties, as Cypress native Justine Wong-Orantes returns as the team’s libero. Wong-Orantes attended high school at nearby Los Alamitos, and also played and coached with the club program Long Beach Mizuno. Wong-Orantes, who played her college ball at Nebraska, was also an assistant coach with Long Beach State briefly.

There are a pair of Long Beach State alums–TJ DeFalco and Kyle Ensing–on the USA men’s national team. Local fans will get a chance to say goodbye to DeFalco, Ensing, and the rest of both women’s and men’s national teams after the Sunday evening match. Both national teams will take the court following the match for an Olympic send-off celebration, as both No. 2-ranked teams prepare to head to Paris with medal aspirations.

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Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.