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U.S. Women Best Bulgaria, Advance to Grand Prix Final Round

By Bill Kauffman | Aug. 18, 2013, 6:48 a.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman, USA Volleyball Senior Manager of Communications, Phone: 719-228-6800, Email: bill.kauffman@usav.org
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SENDAI, Japan (Aug. 18, 2013) – The top-ranked U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team concluded the FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary round by rallying past Bulgaria 16-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-15, 15-8 Sunday afternoon in Sendai, Japan.

With the victory, Team USA advances to the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round set for Aug. 28 to Sept. 1 in Sapporo, Japan. The Americans, the three-time defending champions of the premier annual women’s international volleyball tournament, finished the nine-match preliminary round with an 8-1 overall record with 22 points. The U.S. ended the preliminary round on a six-match win streak with its only loss a four-set match at Brazil. The top five teams plus host Japan will compete in the Final Round. Updated standings can be found by clicking here.

Bulgaria, which had wins over No. 2 Brazil and No. 3 Japan earlier in the tournament, ends the preliminary round with a 6-3 record and 19 points.

Bulgaria took an early 7-2 lead with seven unanswered points in the opening set and cruised to a 25-16 victory. Team USA, which trailed as much as 12-7 in the second set, rallied from a 23-20 deficit by scoring the final five points to claim a 25-23 victory and even the match at one set apiece. Bulgaria scored five unanswered points to take a 20-17 advantage in the third set and went on to win 25-20. Team USA used a 5-0 run to stake a 12-7 advantage in the fourth set, then produced a second 5-0 run extending the gap to 23-14 en route to winning 25-15 and secure a spot into the Final Round. In the tiebreaking set, the American opened up a 10-3 advantage and finished strong with a 15-8 victory.

Heading into the final preliminary round match, the U.S. needed at least one standings point (victory or a five-set loss) to qualify for the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round and continue its trek in trying to become the first team to the win the event four consecutive years.

Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah) paced the U.S. scoring with 15 points on 13 kills on 29 attacks, one block and one ace. Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio), who came off the bench and started the final three sets, picked up 13 points with 11 kills on 29 attacks and two aces. Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.) charted 12 kills on 31 swings and a block for 13 points. Christa Harmotto (Hopewell Township, Pa.) tacked on nine kills on 17 errorless attacks and three blocks for 12 points.

Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich.) racked up nine kills off the bench. Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) pocketed four blocks and two aces for six points, while Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) added three kills and two blocks for five points. Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) totaled three kills and Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, Calif.) rounded out the scoring with an ace.

The U.S. converted on 43.8 percent of its attacks with a .270 hitting efficiency (60-23-137) as Glass was credited with 40 running sets on 99 set attempts. Hill contributed a team-high 21 excellent receptions on 47 attempts, while Hildebrand was eight of 19 on service receptions. Tamari Miyashiro (Kaneohe, Hawaii) was credited with six excellent receptions on 17 attempts along with a team-high four digs.

U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly started Hildebrand and Hill at outside hitter, Gibbemeyer and Harmotto at middle blocker, Murphy at opposite and Glass at setter. Miyashiro was the libero for the match. Fawcett was a sub in the first and second sets before starting the final three sets in place of Murphy. Paolini subbed into the match in the second set and started the final three sets in place of Gibbemeyer. Lichtman was a serving sub in all five sets, while Jenna Hagglund (West Chester, Ohio) was a sub in the first and third sets.

The U.S. held a 60-55 advantage in kills and both teams served six aces in the match. Bulgaria managed a 14-11 margin in blocks. The Americans held their errors to 21 for the match and took advantage of 24 Bulgarian errors. As a team the Americans had a 34.88 reception efficiency (35 excellent on 86 attempts), while Bulgaria tallied a 44.09 efficiency rating (46 of 93). Bulgaria converted 39.6 percent of its attacks with a .252 hitting efficiency (55-20-139).

Bulgaria’s Elitsa Vasileva produced a match-high 20 points and Emiliya Nikolova added 16 points. Hristina Ruseva tallied a match-high six blocks as part of a 14-point match.

The U.S. had faced Bulgaria 11 times heading into the FIVB World Grand Prix final preliminary round match. Team USA, using its 2012 Olympic Games roster, defeated Bulgaria three times (3-2, 3-1 and 3-0) in a Challenge series in the Los Angeles area three weeks before the 2012 Olympic Games began. Overall, the Americans are 11-1 versus the Bulgarians, whose only win came in 1998.

Team USA scored the first two points of the first set with a Harmotto kill and Bulgaria error, but Bulgaria came with the next seven points to grab a 7-2 advantage. Bulgaria increased its lead to 10-4 with consecutive points leading to a USA timeout. Bulgaria stretched its margin to 22-11 with a 7-1 run. Hill scored two kills around a Bulgaria error to slice the American deficit to 22-14. Team USA cut the gap to 23-16 with a Bulgaria error and Murphy block. However, Bulgaria scored the final two points for a 25-16 victory.

Bulgaria gained a 7-3 advantage in the second set on a 5-1 scoring burst. Bulgaria extended its lead to 12-7 with back-to-back points. Paolini and Hildebrand scored consecutive kills to close to 14-11, then moved to within two at 15-13 with a Hill kill and Bulgaria error. Bulgaria answered with points on each side of the second technical timeout for a 17-13 advantage. After a Bulgaria service error, Murphy put up a block to close to 17-15. Team USA closed to 20-19 with a Paolini kill and Hildebrand back-row spike leading to a Bulgaria timeout. Bulgaria regained its three-point cushion with an ace at 22-19. Team USA cut the deficit to 23-22 with a Bulgaria service error and attack error, then Harmotto knotted the score at 23-all with a block. Fawcett slammed a kill off the Bulgaria block to produce an American set point at 24-23, then Hill followed with a kill for a 25-23 victory. Team USA ended the set with a 5-0 run on Glass’ serve.

The U.S. took an early 3-1 lead with a Hildebrand block after a Bulgaria service error, but Bulgaria tallied the next three points to take a 4-3 advantage. Bulgaria picked up a two-point cushion at 7-5 and increased the gap to three at 10-7. Team USA erased the deficit with kills from Hill and Hildebrand around a Bulgaria error to tie the score at 10-all. Bulgaria responded with the next two points to regain a 12-10 advantage. Harmotto and Fawcett pounded kills on back-to-back plays to knot the score at 12-all. After a Bulgaria setting error, Paolini hit a slide for a kill giving the Americans the lead at 14-13. Lichtman served an ace after a Hill kill to push the U.S. into a 17-15 advantage, but Bulgaria immediately scored the next three points to reverse the lead to its side at 18-17 prompting a Team USA timeout. Bulgaria scored the first two points out of the timeout to gain a three-point cushion at 20-17 leading to a second U.S. timeout. Bulgaria pushed out to a 23-19 advantage with consecutive points and closed out the set with a 25-20 victory.

Bulgaria scored the first two points, but Fawcett and Hildebrand answered with kills followed by a Bulgaria error to give the Americans a 3-2 advantage. Bulgaria responded with the next two points to reverse the lead to its side at 4-3. The Americans took the lead back at 7-6 with a Paolini kill and Glass block. Harmotto and Hill connected for consecutive kills and Glass served an ace to create a 10-7 American lead prompting a Bulgaria timeout. Out of the break, Bulgaria hit long and Hill spiked off the Bulgaria block to push the U.S. lead to 12-7. Bulgaria removed two points from the deficit with back-to-back points at 14-11. Fawcett served an ace off heading into the second technical timeout with the Americans leading 16-11. Out of the break, Fawcett served her second consecutive ace to extend the American lead to 17-11. Bulgaria won a long rally and put up a block to slice the deficit to 18-14. Team USA got the two points back with a Paolini kill and combined block from Glass and Harmotto sending Bulgaria into a timeout trailing 20-14. Out of the timeout, Hill slammed a kill to win a long rally and Bulgaria followed with an attack error to extend the U.S. lead to 22-14. Fawcett won another long rally for a fifth straight point at 23-14. Harmotto ended the set with a block at 25-15.

Team USA took a 3-1 lead in the fifth set with a Hildebrand kill and Bulgaria attack into the net. Bulgaria committed consecutive errors to go into a timeout trailing 5-2. The Americans reached the switch leading 8-3 with a Paolini kill leading before Hildebrand scored an ace and back-row attack. Hill followed with a kill through the block to extend the American lead to 9-3. Glass added a block for a fifth straight point at 10-3. Bulgaria chipped off three points from the deficit to close to 10-6. Paolini and Fawcett turned in back-to-back kills and Harmotto put up a block to stop the run and give the Americans a 13-6 lead. Bulgaria shaved two points off the deficit to stay alive at 13-8. Fawcett scored the final point with a kill at 15-8.

U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team World Grand Prix Preliminary Roster
# - Name (Position, Height, Spike Touch, Block Touch, Hometown, College)
1 - #^$ Alisha Glass (S, 6-0, 10-0, 9-10, Leland, Mich., Penn State University)
2 - Danielle Scott (MB, 6-2, 10-8, 9-11, Baton Rouge, La., Long Beach State University)
3 - ^ Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, 9-0, 8-8, Kent, Wash., University of Washington)
4 - Sonja Newcombe (OH, 6-1, 10-0, 9-10, Lake Arrowhead, Calif., University of Oregon)
5 - #^$ Tamari Miyashiro (L, 5-7, 9-4, 8-9, Kaneohe, Hawaii, University of Washington)
6 - Nicole Davis (L, 5-4, 9-4, 8-9, Stockton, Calif., University of Southern California)
7 - #^$ Cassidy Lichtman (OH, 6-1, 9-10, 9-2, Poway, Calif., Stanford University)
8 - #^$ Lauren Gibbemeyer (MB, 6-2, 10-1, 9-7, St. Paul, Minn., University of Minnesota)
9 - Alix Klineman (OH, 6-5, 10-7, 9-8, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Stanford University)
10 - #^$ Kristin Hildebrand (OH, 6-1, 9-10, 9-4, Orem, Utah, Stanford University)
11 - Alaina Bergsma (OPP, 6-3, 10-4, 9-10, Chandler, Ariz., University of Oregon)
12 - #^$ Kayla Banwarth (L, 5-10, 9-8, 9-3, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
13 - #^$ Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, 10-7, 9-10, Hopewell Township, Pa., Penn State University)
14 - #$ Nicole Fawcett (OPP, 6-4, 10-2, 9-7, Zanesfield, Ohio, Penn State University)
15 - #^$ Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, 10-4, 10-1, Wilmington, Ill., University of Florida)
16 - #^$ Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, 10-6, 10-2, Portland, Ore., Pepperdine University)
17 - #^$ Lauren Paolini (MB, 6-4, 10-5, 9-10, Ann Arbor, Mich., University of Texas)
18 - #^$ Regan Hood (OH, 6-2, 10-3, 10-0, Dallas, Texas, LSU)
19 - ^ Juliann Faucette (OPP, 6-2, 10-6. 10-1, San Diego, Calif., University of Texas)
20 - #$ Jenna Hagglund (S, 5-10, 9-7, 9-6, West Chester, Ohio, University of Washington)
21 - Cursty Jackson (MB, 6-2, 10-6, 10-2, Los Angeles, Calif., University of Arizona)
22 - #^$ Rachael Adams (MB, 6-2, 10-5, 10-1, Cincinnati, Ohio, University of Texas)
# - Selected for Week 1 Roster
^ - Selected for Week 2 Roster
$ - Selected for Week 3 Roster

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Reed Sunahara, Tom Black (Weeks 1/2), Cecile Reynaud (Week 3, Final Round)
Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek Team Leader: Cecile Reynaud (Weeks 1/2), Kenny Sullivan (Week 3, Final Round)

2013 FIVB World Grand Prix Schedule (all match times local)

Pool A – Campinas, Brazil
Aug. 2: United States def. Russia 25-20, 17-25, 25-21, 25-12
Aug. 2: Brazil def. Poland 21-25, 25-17, 25-15, 25-20
Aug. 3: Brazil def. Russia 26-28, 26-24, 25-19, 22-25, 15-8
Aug. 3: United States def. Poland 25-22, 25-23, 25-16
Aug. 4: Brazil def. United States 17-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-20
Aug. 4: Russia def. Poland 25-21, 22-25, 29-27, 28-30, 15-13

Pool B – San Domingo, Dominican Republic
Aug. 2: Czech Republic vs. Puerto Rico 25-14, 25-20, 25-18
Aug. 2: Serbia def. Dominican Republic 25-13, 25-20, 25-16
Aug. 3: Serbia def. Czech Republic 28-26, 25-18, 25-23
Aug. 3: Dominican Republic def. Puerto Rico 25-14, 26-24, 25-21
Aug. 4: Serbia def. Puerto Rico 25-22, 22-25, 25-17, 25-17
Aug. 4: Dominican Republic def. Czech Republic 25-22, 25-20, 23-25, 25-18

Pool C – Ankara, Turkey
Aug. 2: Turkey def. Algeria 25-13, 25-18, 25-15
Aug. 2: Japan def. Thailand 25-19, 25-17, 25-21
Aug. 3: Japan def. Algeria 25-10, 25-8, 25-8
Aug. 3: Turkey def. Thailand 25-23, 26-24, 25-22
Aug. 4: Thailand def. Algeria 25-7, 25-14, 25-13
Aug. 4: Japan def. Turkey 25-21, 30-28, 18-25, 25-18

Pool D – Macau, China
Aug. 2: Netherlands def. Cuba 25-20, 25-14, 25-11
Aug. 2: China def. Bulgaria 25-13, 26-24, 25-23
Aug. 3: Bulgaria def. Netherlands 20-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-23
Aug. 3: China def. Cuba 25-13, 25-20, 25-15
Aug. 4: Bulgaria def. Cuba 25-8, 25-15, 25-16
Aug. 4: China def. Netherlands 26-24, 19-25, 25-17, 25-17

Pool E – Montichiari, Italy
Aug. 2: Germany def. Kazakhstan 25-23, 23-25, 25-19, 25-17
Aug. 2: Italy def. Argentina 25-21, 25-20, 25-17
Aug. 3: Argentina def. Germany 25-23, 13-25, 18-25, 25-21, 15-12
Aug. 3: Italy def. Kazakhstan, 28-26, 25-17, 25-13
Aug. 4: Argentina def. Kazakhstan 15-25, 25-15, 23-25, 25-20, 15-9
Aug. 4: Italy def. Germany 25-23, 25-20, 24-26, 25-20

Pool F – Belgrade, Serbia
Aug. 9: Serbia def. Netherlands 25-18, 25-16, 25-21
Aug. 9: United States def. Algeria 25-12, 25-15, 25-11
Aug. 10: Serbia def. Algeria 25-11, 25-12, 25-11
Aug. 10: United States def. Netherlands 25-20, 25-16, 25-12
Aug. 11: Netherlands def. Algeria 25-15, 25-7, 25-6
Aug. 11: United States def. Serbia 25-14, 22-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-12

Pool G – Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
Aug. 9: Brazil def. Dominican Republic 20-25, 25-22, 25-12, 25-18
Aug. 9: Bulgaria def. Puerto Rico 25-21, 25-20, 25-10
Aug. 10: Bulgaria def. Brazil 25-22, 25-21, 20-25, 25-21
Aug. 10: Dominican Republic def. Puerto Rico 25-22, 25-23, 25-20
Aug. 11: Dominican Republic def. Bulgaria 25-22, 18-25, 25-23, 28-30, 16-14
Aug. 11: Brazil def. Puerto Rico 25-14, 25-15, 25-17

Pool H – Plock, Poland
Aug. 9: Japan def. Germany 18-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-12
Aug. 9: Poland def. Kazakhstan 25-17, 25-17, 25-11
Aug. 10: Japan def. Kazakhstan 23-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-20
Aug. 10: Germany def. Poland 25-17, 25-17, 26-24
Aug. 11: Germany def. Kazakhstan 25-14, 25-11, 20-25, 25-19
Aug. 11: Japan def. Poland 25-19, 26-24, 25-15

Pool I – Hong Kong, China
Aug. 9: Turkey def. Argentina 25-17, 25-14, 34-36, 25-18
Aug. 9: China def. Czech Republic 25-14, 25-17, 25-13
Aug. 10: Turkey def. Czech Republic 25-23, 25-18, 25-15
Aug. 10: China def. Argentina 25-17, 26-24, 25-22
Aug. 11: Czech Republic def. Argentina 25-20, 21-25, 25-22, 25-20
Aug. 11: China def. Turkey 19-25, 25-17, 25-20, 15-25, 15-10

Pool J – Ekaterinburg, Russia
Aug. 9: Russia def. Italy 25-13, 18-25, 25-18, 26-24
Aug. 9: Thailand def. Cuba 25-21, 25-17, 21-25, 25-19
Aug. 10: Russia def. Thailand 25-20, 25-23, 25-22
Aug. 10: Italy def. Cuba 25-16, 25-16, 25-20
Aug. 11: Russia def. Cuba 25-17, 25-14, 16-25, 25-17
Aug. 11: Italy def. Thailand 25-18, 25-14, 29-27

Pool K – Almaty, Kazakhstan
Aug. 16: Brazil def. Cuba 25-16, 25-11, 25-20
Aug. 16: Netherlands def. Kazakhstan 25-23, 25-14, 25-16
Aug. 17: Brazil def. Netherlands 25-15, 25-20, 25-15
Aug. 17: Kazakhstan def. Cuba 25-20, 17-25, 30-28, 25-20
Aug. 18: Cuba vs. Netherlands, 3 p.m.
Aug. 18: Kazakhstan vs. Brazil, 6 p.m.

Pool L – Bangkok, Thailand
Aug. 16: Thailand def. Puerto Rico 18-25, 25-7, 25-22, 25-11
Aug. 16: Russia def. Germany 22-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-19, 15-11
Aug. 17: Russia def. Puerto Rico 25-8, 25-16, 25-19
Aug. 17: Germany def. Thailand 25-16, 25-14, 27-25
Aug. 18: Puerto Rico vs. Germany, 2 p.m.
Aug. 18: Russia vs. Thailand, 4:30 p.m.

Pool M – Sendai, Japan
Aug. 16: United States def. Czech Republic 25-20, 25-20, 25-23
Aug. 16: Bulgaria def. Japan 25-23, 25-23, 31-29
Aug. 17: United States def. Japan 25-17, 25-19, 21-25, 25-18
Aug. 17: Bulgaria def. Czech Republic 20-25, 25-18, 25-17, 22-25, 15-8
Aug. 18: Japan def. Czech Republic 25-18, 22-25, 28-26, 23-25, 15-13
Aug. 18: United States def. Bulgaria 16-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-15, 15-8

Pool N – Wuhan, China
Aug. 16: Serbia def. Poland 25-14, 25-20, 22-25, 25-21
Aug. 16: China def. Argentina 25-18, 25-17, 25-16
Aug. 17: Serbia def. Argentina 25-12, 25-20, 25-14
Aug. 17: China def. Poland 25-18, 25-21, 16-25, 25-23
Aug. 18: Poland vs. Argentina, 4 p.m.
Aug. 18: China vs. Serbia, 7:30 p.m.

Pool O – Kaohsiung City, Chinese Taipei
Aug. 16: Italy def. Algeria 25-13, 25-19, 25-10
Aug. 16: Turkey def. Dominican Republic 25-27, 22-25, 25-22, 26-24, 15-13
Aug. 17: Turkey def. Algeria 25-12, 25-12, 25-12
Aug. 17: Dominican Republic def. Italy 21-25, 19-25, 32-30, 26-24, 15-11
Aug. 18: Dominican Republic vs. Algeria, 3 p.m.
Aug. 18: Italy vs. Turkey, 5:30 p.m.

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