U.S. Women Edge Russia in Five Thrilling Sets

By Bill Kauffman | Nov. 15, 2013, 6:52 a.m. (ET)

TOKYO, Japan (Nov. 15, 2013) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team overcame a slow start to defeat Russia 16-25, 25-22, 25-19, 24-26, 15-13 Friday afternoon on the third day of the six-team, round-robin FIVB Women’s World Grand Champions Cup in Tokyo.

The U.S. improved to 2-1 in the tournament with five points, while Russia falls to 1-2 with four points. Team USA challenges Thailand on Saturday at 12:10 p.m. local time (7:10 p.m. PT on Friday) before concluding the event on Sunday versus Dominican Republic at 12:10 p.m. local time (7:10 p.m. PT on Saturday).

The U.S. fell behind by more than five points in each of the first four sets and came back to win two of the sets. After Russia forced a deciding fifth set, the U.S. won the final set 15-13 that included five lead changes.

Russia scored the first six points of the opening set and pushed its lead to 9-2 en route to a 25-16 victory. The U.S. fell behind 8-3 in the second set and trailed 16-12 at the second technical timeout before using an 11-3 burst to establish a 23-19 advantage to go on to a 25-22 victory. Team USA trailed 16-11 at the third set’s second technical timeout, but Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, Calif.) served the Americans to a 7-0 run with two aces to take a 19-16 and eased into a 25-19 victory ending the set on a 14-3 run. Russia built a 9-3 lead in the fourth set, only to have the Americans take a 19-18 lead thanks to its service game. However, Russia scored four of the final five points after a 3-0 U.S. run to win 26-24.

Jordan Larson-Burbach scored a U.S. team-high 23 points with 22 kills on 53 attacks and a block. Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) came off the bench to score 15 points in the final four sets to help turn the tide. She tallied 10 kills on 32 attacks, three aces and two blocks. Kristin Hildebrand (Orem, Utah) chipped in 12 points with nine kills on 22 attacks and three blocks. Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) contributed 10 points with 10 kills on 22 attacks and just one error.

Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles), playing in her first FIVB match, totaled eight points off the bench that included seven kills on 14 attacks and a block. Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) totaled five points, while Lichtman added three aces as a sub. Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.) recorded two aces, while Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) added two blocks. Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich.) rounded out the scoring with an ace.

First of all, congratulations to Russia," Hildebrand said. "It was definitely a battle out there today. They played a great match, especially in the first set when they had us off our game. USA did a good job of staying together. We did well in serving and passing, and got a good contribution from the bench. I’m proud of everyone across the board; we had a lot of contributions from a lot of people."

Glass provided the USA offense with 28 running sets leading to a .233 hitting efficiency (63-25-163). Hildebrand and Larson-Burbach were credited with 11 excellent receptions each. Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) recorded a team-high 13 digs.

It was a really nice effort by every one of our athletes," U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. "All 12 players made a nice contribution tonight."

Earlier this year Team USA defeated Russia in four sets to open the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup on Aug. 2 in Campinas, Brazil.

Kiraly started Larson-Burbach and Hildebrand at outside hitter, Gibbemeyer and Paolini at middle blocker, Murphy at opposite and Glass at setter. Banwarth was the libero for the match. Fawcett and Jackson started the final four sets, while Lichtman started the fourth set and was a sub in the other four sets. Hill came in off the bench in all five sets, while Jenna Hagglund (West Chester, Ohio was a sub in the first four sets.

The U.S. used a dominant 9-2 service advantage to spark comebacks in the match and overcome a Russia 17-9 margin in blocks. Team USA held a slim 63-62 margin in kills and converted 38.7 percent of its attacks into points. Russia converted 39.2 percent of its attacks.

I want to compliment the Russian team on a lot of really good play," Kiraly said. "It was a very difficult match for both teams; one team played well and then the other. It was quite inconsistent and hard to get into a rhythm, but it was a very good battle between two good teams and we’re happy to come out with the win.

Russia’s Natalia Malykh tallied a match-high 26 points and Liubov Shashkova added 22 points.

Earlier today Brazil defeated Dominican Republic in four sets. Brazil continues to lead the tournament standings as the lone undefeated team, while Dominican Republic fell to 1-2 with three points.

Russia scored the first six points of the opening set and went up 9-2 prompting Kiraly to call a second early timeout. The U.S. went on a 4-1 scoring run including a Larson-Burbach block and Hill ace at 13-7. Larson-Burbach downed consecutive kills and Paolini followed with an ace at 20-15 going into a Russia timeout. Russia scored five of the final six points for a 25-16 victory.

Russia reached the first technical timeout of the second set on a 3-0 run and leading 8-3. Team USA picked up consecutive blocks by Hildebrand and Fawcett to close to 8-5, but Russia answered with two quick points to have U.S. call timeout down 10-5. Larson-Burbach collected two kills off the block around a Russia attack error to whittle the American deficit to 13-11 at a Russian timeout. The U.S. closed to within one point at 16-15 with three straight points out of the second technical timeout including kills by Hildebrand and Fawcett. The U.S. leveled the score at 17-all with two Russia errors. Russia answered with two quick points to regain a two-point cushion at 19-17. The U.S. responded with a Fawcett kill after a Russia service error to tie the score at 19-all, then Larson-Burbach slammed three consecutive kills to yield a 22-19 advantage. Hill capped the 6-0 run with an ace at 23-19. Russia saved two set points before Jackson closed the set at 25-22 on a slide kill.

The U.S. took a 6-5 lead in the third set on a 4-1 scoring run that included kills by Hildebrand and Fawcett, and a Jackson block. Russia answered with two points to switch the lead at 7-6 and increased its advantage to 10-8. Russia reached the second technical timeout leading 16-11 on a 5-1 scoring run. Out of the break Hildebrand, Gibbemeyer and Fawcett scored consecutive kills and Russia hit into the net to reduce the deficit to 16-15 on a USA 4-0 run. Hildebrand tied the set at 16-all with a kill, Russia hit long and Lichtman served consecutive aces to cap the 8-0 run at 19-16. Team USA increased its advantage to 21-17 with a Gibbemeyer block after a Russia error. Hildebrand and Larson-Burbach hammered kills to inch the U.S. lead to 23-18. Fawcett and Jackson ended the set with kills at 25-19.

Russia reached a 5-1 advantage to start the fourth set. Burbach answered with consecutive kills to cut the deficit in half at 5-3. Russia answered with its own three straight points to climb to 8-3 at the first technical timeout, then extended to gap to 9-3 with a block out of the break. Jackson stopped the run with a kill and Fawcett followed with a kill and block prompting Russia to call timeout with its lead trimmed to 9-6. Russia scored the first two points out of the break to increase its lead to 11-6. After a Russia attack error, Fawcett served consecutive aces and Larson-Burbach hit a kill out of the back row to slice the deficit to a single point at 12-11. Out of a Russia timeout, Fawcett served a third ace in a 5-0 run to tie the score at 12-all. Russia stopped the run with two points to take a 14-12 advantage and went into the second technical timeout leading 16-14. Larson-Burbach and Fawcett pocketed back-to-back kills to level the score at 17-all. The U.S. went in front 19-18 with a Jackson kill and Hildebrand block. Russia turned the momentum with two blocks as part of a 3-0 run and 21-19 advantage. The Americans tied the set at 22-22 with a Fawcett back-row kill and Russia error. Lichtman served her third ace of the match to give the Americans a 23-22 advantage. However, Russia reached set point first at 24-23 with consecutive points. Team USA saved one set point with a Russia service error, but Russia came back with the next two points for a 26-24 win to extend the match.

Russia scored three unanswered points to stake itself to a 5-3 advantage in the fifth set. The U.S. squared the set at 6-all with kills from Murphy and Gibbemeyer. Team USA went back in front at the court switch with a Murphy kill and Gibbemeyer block at 8-7. Hildebrand added to the advantage with a kill at 9-7. Russia answered with two points to knot the score at 9-9. However, consecutive Russia errors pushed the U.S. back in front with a two-point cushion at 11-9. Russia battled back once again with three straight points to take a 12-11 advantage. Yet again, the U.S. answered with kills by Gibbemeyer and Larson-Burbach at 13-12. Team USA won the set with consecutive Russia errors at 15-13.

U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team for FIVB Volleyball Grand Champions Cup
# - Name (Pos, Ht, Spike, Block, Hometown, College)
1 - Alisha Glass (S, 6-0, 10-0, 9-10, Leland, Mich., Penn State University)
4 - Cursty Jackson (MB, 6-2, 10-6, 10-2, Los Angeles, Calif., University of Arizona)
5 - Tamari Miyashiro (L, 5-7, 9-4, 8-9, Kaneohe, Hawaii, University of Washington)
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 - Kristin Hildebrand – Captain (OH, 6-1, 9-10, 9-4, Orem, Utah, Stanford University)
10 - Jordan Larson-Burbach (OH, 6-2, 9-11, 9-8, Hooper, Neb., University of Nebraska)
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)
20 - Jenna Hagglund (S, 5-10, 9-7, 9-6, West Chester, Ohio, University of Washington)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Reed Sunahara, Mike Hebert
Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek
Team Leader: Kenny Sullivan

FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Grand Champions Cup Schedule

Nov. 12 - Nagoya, Japan
Dominican Republic def. Thailand 25-23, 25-21, 25-23
Brazil def. USA 26-24, 26-24, 25-20
Japan def. Russia 25-20, 26-28, 25-16, 26-24

Nov. 13 - Nagoya, Japan
Brazil def. Thailand 25-18, 25-17, 25-17
Russia def. Dominican Republic 25-14, 22-25, 25-23, 25-15
United States def. Japan 25-19, 25-19, 19-25, 25-21

Nov. 15 - Tokyo, Japan
Brazil def. Dominican Republic 25-20, 25-15, 22-25, 25-19
United States def. Russia 16-25, 25-22, 25-19, 24-26, 15-13
Japan vs. Thailand, 7:10 p.m. (2:10 a.m. PT on Nov. 15)

Nov. 16 - Tokyo, Japan
United States vs. Thailand, 12:10 p.m. (7:10 p.m. PT on Nov. 15)
Russia vs. Brazil, 4:10 p.m. (10:10 p.m. PT on Nov. 15)
Japan vs. Dominican Republic, 7:10 p.m. (2:10 a.m. PT on Nov. 16)

Nov. 17 - Tokyo, Japan
United States vs. Dominican Republic, 12:10 p.m. (7:10 p.m. PT on Nov. 16)
Thailand vs. Russia, 3:10 p.m. (9:10 p.m. PT on Nov. 16)
Japan vs. Brazil, 6:10 p.m. (1:10 a.m. PT on Nov. 17)