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.
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.