US picks women’s volleyball team for Olympics

COLORADO SPRING, Colo. (AP) — Two-time medalists Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson and Jordan Larson headline the 12-player U.S. women’s volleyball team picked to compete at the Olympics in Tokyo.

Akinradewo Gunderson and Larson were part of the U.S. team that won a silver medal in 2012 in London and a bronze in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

Coach Karch Kiraly also announced Monday that he will be bringing back outside hitters Kim Hill and Kelsey Robinson for a second straight Olympics.

The other eight members of the team will be making their first Olympic appearance: outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley; opposites Annie Drews and Jordan Thompson; setters Micha Hancock and Jordyn Poulter; middles Chiaka Ogbogu and Haleigh Washington; and libero Justine Wong Orantes.

“Each one of the 12 contributes unique skills and qualities that make her the right person for the job,” Kiraly said. “This collection of special people who are elite volleyball players is poised to make a fierce Olympic run. We can’t wait to watch them ‘Let It Rip’ in Tokyo.”

The U.S. women’s team is currently ranked No. 1 in the world and is hoping to win its first Olympic gold ever. The women’s volleyball competition will begin July 24.

The average age of the roster is 25 with more than a decade span between the 34-year-old Larson and 23-year-old Poulter.

Kiraly, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, will be coaching his second Olympics after helping the U.S. women win bronze in 2016.

His assistant coaches, Erin Virtue, Tama Miyashiro and Luka Slabe, will all be coaching at the Olympics for the first time. Miyashiro won a silver medal with the U.S. as a player in 2012 in London.

The six Olympic alternates are setter Lauren Carlini; outside hitters Kathryn Plummer and Sarah Wilhite Parsons; middle blockers Tori Dixon and Hannah Tapp; and libero Megan Courtney.

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