The City of Omaha has been selected to host the Final Round of the 2015 FIVB Women's Volleyball World Grand Prix (WGP), which is the premier annual international women's volleyball tournament run by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB). The Omaha Sports Commission will serve as the local organizing committee with the support of USA Volleyball, the National Governing Body for the sport.
"This is huge for USA Volleyball and Team USA," U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. "Outside of the Olympic Games in 1984 and 1996, this will be the first major FIVB event USA has ever hosted. So this is awesome to be on home soil for an event of this magnitude. We loved playing in Omaha last fall at the NORCECA Championship, and we look forward to hosting the best teams the world has to offer in 2015."
The 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round will take place July 22-26 at the CenturyLink Center Omaha, which has become a mecca of top volleyball in the United States. The CenturyLink Center Omaha, which can seat 17,000 for volleyball, hosted the 2006 and 2008 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championships with sellout crowds. The CenturyLink Center Omaha also hosted the AVCA Showcase, one of the top regular season collegiate tournaments, five times in six years (2005, 2007-2010)."We are pleased to be partnering with the Omaha Sports Commission to bring this very significant women's volleyball event to the United States," USA Volleyball CEO Doug Beal said. "We appreciate the confidence and support of the FIVB, and we hope this will lead to additional high profile volleyball events on USA soil. This event will dramatically showcase the very best our sport has to offer to a broad audience throughout the country and the world."
Tickets will go on sale in June 2014. The price of admission will include three matches per day with Team USA playing the late match on each of the five days.
The U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team, ranked second in the world behind Brazil, has won the FIVB World Grand Prix five times, including a record-tying three consecutive championships from 2010 to 2012. The United States has never hosted the prestigious Final Round, which has been held outside of Asia only twice in the previous 21 editions and both times in Italy. In 1995, the U.S. hosted a preliminary round weekend of the FIVB World Grand Prix in Honolulu.
"This is the first time a U.S. city will host the FIVB World Volleyball Grand Prix Finals, and Omaha is honored to have been selected," said Harold Cliff, president of the Omaha Sports Commission. "Women's volleyball is extremely popular here in Nebraska and we look forward to bringing volleyball fans from across the country to our city to watch this incredible competition."
Kiraly mentioned that the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round will have special importance for all the teams which advance to Omaha. The event will take place about a month prior to the start of the first 2016 Olympic Games qualification event, the FIVB World Cup.
"Playing on our home soil will be so important for this tournament as it will serve as our last preparation before stepping on to the actual road to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games," Kiraly said. "At the same time, the fans will be treated to watching all the best teams in the world competing at their best with the Rio Olympics only a year away."
The Omaha area has a history of supporting volleyball as Ralston Arena hosted the 2013 Visit Omaha NORCECA Women's Continental Championship in which the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team captured the gold medal. The University of Nebraska in nearby Lincoln is a perennial NCAA championship contender playing in front of 200 consecutive sellout home crowds with crowds in excess of 8,200. In addition, both Creighton University and University of Nebraska-Omaha have competitive collegiate volleyball programs that have advanced into the NCAA tournament.
The FIVB World Grand Prix recently expanded to include 28 countries in the preliminary round. The top 12 teams in the world will play three consecutive preliminary weekends with each team playing a total of nine matches from Aug. 1-17. The top four teams in the preliminary round advance to the 2014 Final Round along with the Final Round host and winner from the second tier of countries competing in their own preliminary pools and Final Round from July 25-Aug. 17.
"Through television rights and Internet video streams, volleyball fans from more than 75 countries will be watching six of the greatest women's volleyball teams' battle for the right to be recognized as the best in the world, creating great exposure for Omaha and Nebraska," said Jay Lerner, Omaha Sports Commission board member and co-chair of the event. "Hosting a premier volleyball championship event has been a goal of the Omaha Sports Commission and we are thrilled Omaha has been selected for this exciting competition."
John Cook, head women's volleyball coach at University of Nebraska Lincoln will serve as honorary chair for the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round while Kirsten Booth, head women's volleyball coach at Creighton University, will assist Lerner as co-chair.
Note: The 2013 U.S. Women's National Team is a tremendous media and fan resource as it provides a review of the season, pictorial match-by-match reviews, player and staff bios and much more. To access the Yearbook, visit http://issuu.com/usav/docs/2013_wnt_yearbook.