Team USA’s women’s volleyball team needed a victory against Russia to keep its hopes of winning a world championship alive and it got it.
A day after being swept by host Italy, the No. 2-ranked Americans defeated defending world champion Russia, 25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 25-23. Now Team USA needs to await the result of the Italy-Russia match Friday to find out if it will advance to the medals round of the FIVB Women’s World Championship in Milan.
Russia needs to beat Italy in three or four sets to qualify and leave the United States out. According to the FIVB, any other score in that match and Italy and the United States will advance to the medals round.
U.S. coach Karch Kiraly told Universal Sports that the team reviewed film of the Italian match before facing Russia. Although the score was lopsided, Kiraly said the result was more because of strong Italian play than poor play by his own team and that Team USA needed to put the match in the past.
After “getting their hearts ripped out” against the Italians, as Kiraly put it, Team USA rebounded against Russia. Team USA has now beaten Russia twice in these world championships.
Team USA opened the match with an even start to the first set. After a tie score at 13, however, the Americans scored five unanswered points and cruised to a 25-19 first-set win. The United States trailed, 2-0, to start the second set but then Jordan Larson-Burbach led Team USA to an 8-2 lead.
The Americans seemed to have things well in control, building a 13-5 advantage in the third set, but then they came undone, ultimately losing, 25-15. Team USA regrouped in the fourth set for the must-win victory.
Team USA was led in scoring by outside hitter Kim Hill with 18 points. Kelly Murphy added 15 and middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo scored 12 points and had eight kills, three blocks and one ace.
Amy Rosewater is a freelance writer and editor for TeamUSA.org. She has covered five Olympic Games and her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.