By Karen Price | June 07, 2018, 11:29 a.m. (ET)
Team USA celebrates after defeating China at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League on June 7, 2018 in Jiangmen, China.


In a showdown of the world’s top two women’s volleyball teams, the second-ranked United States came out on top against No. 1 China on Thursday at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in Jiangmen, China.

Team USA beat the reigning Olympic champion, 25-20, 25-22, 25-20, to bring its record to 11-1 at the tournament, a performance that has the Americans sitting in first place in the standings and has them qualified to compete in the six-team Finals Round beginning June 27 in Nanjing, China.

It was the Americans’ 10th win in a row at the tournament. They trailed in the third set, 20-15, but scored the next 10 points to finish things off. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley led with 18 points, but it was a strong overall U.S. effort to polish off the host team and wrap up another 3-0 week in the league.

On Wednesday, the fourth-ranked Brazilians did manage to snap Team USA’s 25-set winning streak, but that was the best they could do as the U.S. won the match, 25-23, 26-28, 25-21, 25-18. The U.S. took a close first set, coming back from a 15-12 deficit along the way, then Brazil won the second set on its third set-point chance to end the U.S. streak. Team USA bounced back and again overcame deficits in both the third and fourth sets to secure the win. 

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Lauren Gibbemeyer had 16 points with eight kills on 16 swings and eight blocks, Jordan Larson had 15 kills on 35 swings and a block and Foluke Akinradewo had nine kills on 20 seconds and four blocks. Brazil had won nine matches in a row before facing the Americans. 

The U.S. opened the week by beating Russia, 25-14, 25-18, 25-18, on Tuesday and breaking a 37-year-old record in the process. It was the team’s eighth consecutive straight-set win, beating a U.S. record of seven straight-set victories from 1978 to 1981. After controlling the first two sets against No. 5 Russia, the U.S. trailed briefly in the third, but scored the last eight points to improve to 9-1 at the tournament. 

Bartsch-Hackley led the team again with 13 kills on 20 attacks along with two aces and a block and Annie Drews had nine points in the win.

The U.S. next heads to Santa Fe, Argentina, for games against Serbia, Korea and Argentina June 12-14.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.