The U.S. women’s volleyball team hit a few bumps in the second weekend of preliminary round play at the FIVB World Grand Prix in Macau, China, but advanced to the third round with a 4-2 record and a No. 2 ranking.
Team USA defeated No. 1 China, No. 5 Russia and No. 8 Italy in the opening weekend of preliminary round play to take a 3-0 tournament record and 11-0 season record into this weekend’s matches. The World Grand Prix is the premier annual international tournament for women.
The U.S. opened the second round by defeating Turkey, 3-1 (25-21, 24-26, 25-19, 25-1), on Friday to become the only undefeated team left in the tournament. Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley led the team with 17 points via 11 kills on 42 swings, four aces and two blocks.
Team USA suffered defeat for the first time this season on Saturday in a rematch against Italy. After defeating the Italians in three sets last weekend, the U.S lost in five sets despite 20 points from both Madi Kingdon and Bartsch-Hackley. With the fifth set tied 13-13, Italy scored the final two points for the 15-13 victory and match win.
On Sunday, they faced another rematch, this time against reigning Olympic champion China, and a second straight victory wasn’t to be.
After dropping the five-set heartbreaker, 25-27, 25-23, 25-21, 23-25, 15-11, and registering three players with at least 21 points, Team USA will head to Cuiaba, Brazil, for its final three preliminary matches in second place behind Serbia (5-1).
The U.S. will face the Netherlands, Belgium and Brazil beginning July 20 in its quest for a seventh World Grand Prix title and fifth in the last eight years (2010, 2011, 2012, 2015). China, plus the top five finishers from the preliminary rounds, will meet one another on Aug. 2-6 in Nanjing, China, in the final round.