COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 8, 2013) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team will renew a long-standing series with Japan this summer as the two teams take part in the inaugural USA Volleyball Cup with three matches scheduled for the Southern California market in July.

The USA Volleyball Cup series opens July 10 in San Diego on the campus of UC San Diego, followed by a July 12 contest at the Walter Pyramid on the campus of Long Beach State University in Long Beach. The two teams conclude the series on July 13 at JSerra High School in San Juan Capistrano. All three matches have start times of 7 p.m. PT.

“The USA Volleyball Cup is a fantastic event connecting our Women’s National Team with the Southern California community in which we’re based, and of course providing competition against one of the world’s great teams,” U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “To inaugurate this Cup, it is an honor that Japan has accepted to compete and renew a storied rivalry of tours across the United States and in Japan.”

General admission ticket prices are $20 for adults and $5 for youth ages 18-and-under for each match, online or at the door. Children 3-and-under will be admitted free. VIP tickets, which include pre- and post-match hospitality, VIP parking, special court-side reserved seating and a chance to meet Coach Kiraly and some of the U.S. Women, will be sold for $150.

Tickets for all three events, which go on sale May 8 at 10 a.m. PT, can be purchased by going to usavolleyballcup.com.

The U.S. Women are ranked No. 1 in the world by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), while Japan is ranked No. 3. The Americans finished the 2012 season with their second consecutive Olympic Games silver medal, one spot ahead of the Japanese who claimed the 2012 Olympic Games bronze medal.

The USA Volleyball Cup is a new initiative that will draw elite teams to the United States to compete in an annual tour series with the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Volleyball Teams. Such events will help foster local community ties to the two National Team programs and the City of Anaheim where the teams train. It is foreseen that there will be one U.S. Women’s match each year in Southern California and a second one to be held in different venues each year throughout the country – and the same for the U.S. Men’s Team.

To follow the USA Volleyball Cup and the series with Japan, visit the dedicated Facebook community page or the USA Volleyball Cup event page by clicking here.

“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 (Stockton, Calif.), a two-time U.S. Olympic Games libero. “Anaheim has provided so much support and so many resources to us over the last four years; resources that have given us a huge competitive advantage in our preparation for the past and now future Olympic Games. It’s nice to showcase the city and our facilities, and show appreciation for their support by competing as best we can. Likewise, 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!”

“It is a wonderful opportunity to prepare for tournaments by hosting quality opponents beforehand,” said Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.), a five-time Olympian who also played at Long Beach State University. “Having a chance to compete in front of our family, friends and fans is awesome and far too rare. So we are totally excited. Long Beach State did an outstanding job hosting the men’s NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament in 2012. I am looking forward to playing in the Pyramid again.”

The USA-Japan series has been a storied rivalry among friendly countries. Since 1983, the U.S. Women and Japan have played 211 matches – the most with any U.S. opponent – with many of the contests in the 1980s and 1990s taking part in similar tours in either the United States or Japan. The U.S. has played Cuba 148 times since 1983, which ranks as the second most matches in an all-time series.

The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team hosted Japan most recently during the spring of 2000 with matches in Burleson, Texas, Pueblo, Colo., Colorado Springs and Denver. Japan won three of the four matches with three of the matches extending to a fifth set. In the second contest in Pueblo, Japan won the match with a thrilling 25-23 fifth-set score, while the U.S. bounced back in Colorado Springs with a five-set victory for its lone victory.

Since 2000 without a USA-Japan Tour series on the schedule, the U.S. holds a 13-7 record with most of the matches coming in FIVB events during the 13-year period.

“There has always been a fierce rivalry with Japan, well known for their fabulous defense, precise ball control and total dedication to their team concept – they’re one of those teams that’s always greater than the sum of their parts,” Kiraly said. “In our recent matches, Japan defeated the USA Women for the bronze medal at the 2010 FIVB Volleyball World Championship and also prevented us from winning America’s first-ever FIVB World Cup gold medal on the final day of the 2011 event. Their defense and effort, combined with how well the teams know each other, makes for wonderful, exciting rallies.”

Both teams will use the USA Volleyball Cup as final preparations for the 20-team FIVB World Grand Prix that takes place Aug. 2 to Sept 1 in various countries. The U.S. has won the last three FIVB World Grand Prix events, which is the top annual international volleyball competition for women. In the third and final preliminary round weekend Aug. 16-18, the U.S. will travel to Sendai, Japan, to take on the host nation, Czech Republic and Bulgaria. The FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round, with the top five teams plus Japan comprising the field, will take place Aug. 28 to Sept. 1 in Sapporo, Japan.