Justine Wong-Orantes, a 2013 graduate of Los Alamitos High School and a native of Cypress, celebrated this weekend as Team USA Volleyball beat Italy and Turkey to keep its gold medal hopes alive.
USA Women’s Volleyball Coach Karch Kiraly included Wong-Orantes as the teams libero when she announced his 12-player squad for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games.
The libero is a player specialized in defensive skills: the libero must wear a contrasting jersey color from their teammates and cannot block or attack the ball when it is entirely above net height. When the ball is not in play, the libero can replace any back-row player, without prior notice to the officials.
Wong-Orantes (LAHS ’13), who helped lead the Griffins to a CIF title before earning All-American honors and a NCAA Championship at Nebraska, will be making her first Olympic Game appearance, according to reports.
Wong-Orantes was a setter on two Grifffin CIF champ squads. As a freshman setter, she split time with Rachel Fattal, who also made this year’s Olympic squad, as a starter on the US Women’s National Water Polo team. Fattal helped the US to a gold in Rio in 2016.
The other eight members of the team are 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.
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, is coaching his second Olympics after helping the U.S. women win bronze in 2016.
His assistant coaches, Erin Virtue, Tama Miyashiro and Luka Slabe, are all 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.
As of press time, the USA Volleyball team was unbeaten in Pool B, having most recently beat Turkey and will now face Dominican Republic.