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NORCECA in Lincoln Preview

The USA Women's Volleyball Team, which includes three former Huskers, will attempt to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in a four-team, round-robin tournament at the Pinnacle Bank Arena January 7-9, 2016.

On January 7, 8, and 9, the NORCECA Olympic qualifying tournament will take place in Lincoln, Nebraska at the Pinnacle Bank Arena. The teams competing are the #1 United States of America, #7 Dominican Republic, #15 Puerto Rico, and #16 Canada. All rankings are according to the FIVB (International Volleyball Federation) world rankings.

First question that comes up is what the heck is a NORCECA? Well, it is NOT a tournament named after former dictator Manuel Noriega as some have suggested. I also doesn't stand for North Oceanic Regional Center for Economic and Cultural Advancement (though that could be a real thing).

NORCECA stands for The North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation. As is the case with many of this type of abbreviations (See: CONCACAF), they use enough of the words to make the name sort of a word. NORCECA is the sanctioning body for volleyball in North and Central America as well as the Caribbean.

This tournament will seed one team in the 12-team Olympic tournament for Rio later this year. The United States, a team ranked #1 in the world, lost two matches in the FIVB World Cup, which put them just outside of qualification. #2 China and #3 Brazil both defeated the USA in that tournament and qualified for the Olympics.

This is the second international tournament in Nebraska in the last six months, as Omaha hosted part of the FIVB World Grand Prix in July of 2015. Piggy backing off the Huskers' National Championship, it's been a GREAT six months for elite volleyball in Nebraska.

Additionally, the team will feature three former Huskers: Outside Hitter Jordan Larson (originally from Hooper and part of the 2006 National Championship team), Outside Hitter Kelsey Robinson, and Libero Kayla Banwarth.

The USA plays in the prime time slot all three nights, the benefit of hosting. Their last match, Saturday at 8:00 Central against the Dominican Republic, will be televised live on NBCSports Network.

Here is the schedule (all times Central Standard Time):

January 7, Dominican Republic - Puerto Rico 5:00, USA - Canada 7:00

January 8, Dominican Republic - Canada 5:00, USA - Puerto Rico 7:00

January 9, Canada - Puerto Rico 5:00, USA - Dominican Republic 8:00 (Live on NBCSN)

As of this writing, tickets are still available for the tournament. will have coverage of Larson, Robinson, and Banwarth's play throughout the tournament, as well as results as the US Women's team fights to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics with the hopes of capturing the first Olympic gold in Women's team history.