Make that five podium finishes in a row for the U.S. national women’s volleyball team.
The third-ranked U.S. team defeated South Korea on Sunday to secure the FIVB World Cup silver medal. With another silver medal in 2011 as well as bronze medals in 2003, 2007 and 2015 in the quadrennial tournament, the U.S. is the only team to have won a medal in each of the last five World Cups.
Sunday’s 25-21, 25-16, 16-25, 25-22 victory in Osaka, Japan, also marked Team USA’s 10th in the 11-game round-robin tournament. The Americans’ only loss came against defending Olympic champions China, which won the World Cup for the second time in a row.
The U.S. began the tournament, which was held throughout Japan, on Sept. 14 with consecutive victories over Kenya, Serbia, Argentina, the Netherlands, Brazil and Japan before falling to China in straight sets, 25-16, 25-17, 25-22. The loss hardly slowed Team USA down, though, as the U.S. answered with consecutive victories over the Dominican Republic, Russia, Cameroon and South Korea to close out the tournament. A five-set win over Russia on Friday put the U.S. solidly in second place. Russia, which is yet to play its final game, will finish third.
“We are honored and privileged to have 14 special people here with us and who are all making important contributions in a very long and difficult tournament,” U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said after the Cameroon game.
The U.S. team was a combination of established stars, including two-time Olympic medalist Jordan Larson and 2016 Olympic bronze medalists Kelsey Robinson and Karsta Lowe, and rising stars such as Annie Drews, who was named MVP of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League as the U.S. won for the second year in a row.
In Sunday’s finale, Drews started the match with five kills in the first set as the U.S. took a 25-21 win, and she added six more kills in the second set, a dominating 25-16 win. She finished with a match-high 24 points on 20 kills, two blocks and two aces. Chiaka Ogbogu added 16 points.
Drews, Lowe and Robinson each led the U.S. or tied for the lead in scoring in three games.
While the U.S. women celebrate winning another World Cup medal, the U.S. men are just cranking up. The men begin defense of their 2015 World Cup championship on Monday, when they face Argentina in Japan.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.