U.S. Women Win 5-Set Thriller vs Japan

By Bill Kauffman | Aug. 03, 2014, 12:15 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 3, 2014) – Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) scored a match-high 21 points to help spark the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team past Japan 25-27, 25-17, 25-22, 24-26, 15-11 in a FIVB World Grand Prix Pool A match Sunday in Ankara, Turkey.

Both teams were in search of their first World Grand Prix victory this season in three matches. Team USA, now 1-2 with 3 points following the end of the first of three preliminary round weekends, travels to Sao Paulo, Brazil, next weekend for matches against Russia (2-0/6 points prior to today’s match against Turkey) on Aug. 8 at  7 a.m. PT, Korea (2-1, 6 points) on Aug. 9 at 8:30 a.m. PT and top-ranked Brazil (2-0/6 points prior to today’s match with Dominican Republic) on Aug. 10 at 6 a.m. PT. Universal Sports will stream all three matches. For details, click here.

The U.S. was embroiled in a battle of momentum with Japan throughout the course of the match. The U.S. rallied from a 24-22 deficit in the opening set to take a 25-24 lead, but Japan came back to win 27-25 following the seventh lead change of the set. Team USA built a 16-10 advantage in the second set with an 8-3 run and cruised into a 25-17 victory to level the match. The U.S. led 16-12 in the third set, but Japan charged back to take a 22-21 lead. However, the Americans responded by scoring the final four points of the set to win 25-22 and take a 2-1 advantage in the match.

In the fourth set, the U.S. used a 10-0 run when trailing 17-10 to establish a 20-17 advantage, but Japan scored five unanswered late to go on to win 26-24 to force set five. The U.S. opened the deciding set with a 3-0 lead, but Japan charged back to lead 7-5. Team USA answered with a 5-1 run to pull in front 10-8 and went on to win 15-11.

Murphy scored a match-high 21 points with 15 kills, five blocks and an ace to lead the Americans. Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minn.) notched 13 kills on 21 attacks and three blocks coming off the bench to score 16 points. Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Ill.) amassed eight kills, a team-high six blocks and an ace for 15 points in the win. Four of her points came in the middle stages of the fifth set pulling the Americans in front.

Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.) totaled 14 points via 12 kills, one block and one ace. Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) tacked on 14 points with nine kills, three blocks and two aces. Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) contributed two kills and an ace, while Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.), Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.), Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, Calif.) and Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) were all credited with one point each.

Glass was credited with 43 running sets on 105 set attempts, which helped the U.S. to a 37.3 kill percent and .180 hitting efficiency. Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) produced a team-leading 18 digs to go with 18 excellent receptions on 21 chances. Hill totaled a team-best 31 excellent receptions on 47 chances, while Robinson chipped in 13 excellent receptions on 19 chances to go with 13 digs.

Team USA out-blocked Japan 19-12 and held an 8-5 margin in aces. The Americans overcame 35 errors for the match, 14 of which came on the serve, with a 60-51 advantage in kills. The U.S. held Japan to a 30.0 kill percent and .094 hitting efficiency. Japan out-dug the U.S. 85-69.

“We are learning a lot and we hope to get better as the tournament goes along,” Glass said.

The U.S. started Robinson and Hill at outside hitter, Adams and Gibbemeyer at middle blocker, Murphy at opposite and Glass at setter. Banwarth was the starting libero. Dixon started the final four sets in place of Gibbemeyer. Thompson was a sub in all five sets, while Klineman was a sub in the first four sets. Lichtman started the fifth set to provide back-row defense early before giving way to Robinson again.

Japan was led by Saori Kimura with 16 points, followed by Miyu Nagaoka’s 14 points.

The U.S. Women has played Japan 218 times since 1983 – by far the most of any opponent for the U.S. The U.S. defeated Japan for the seventh straight time to close the all-time series to 113-105 in favor of Japan. In World Grand Prix matches, the U.S. leads the series 18-6.

The U.S. used a 3-0 run with a Hill kill and two Japan errors to take an 8-6 lead into the first technical timeout of the opening set. Japan answered with a 4-1 scoring run to establish an 11-9 advantage. Robinson responded with a kill and block to level the score at 11-all. Robinson served an ace after a Murphy kill to push the Americans in front 13-12. The lead shifted immediately back to Japan as it scored three unanswered points for a 15-13 advantage. Two Japan errors put the U.S. in a tie at 16-all. Hill served an ace after a Gibbemeyer kill to swing the lead to the Americans at 18-17. Out of a Japan timeout, Robinson put up a block to extend Team USA’s lead to 19-17. Japan tied the set again at 21-all with two straight points. Japan took the lead at 22-21 and reached set points at 24-22 on a block. The U.S. saved two set points and tied the score at 24-all with an Adams kill and Japan error. Murphy slammed a kill for the sixth lead change of the set at 25-24. Japan saved set point and gained its third chance at 26-25 and won a third straight point to captured set 1 27-25.

Team USA built a 10-7 advantage in the second set after kills from Glass and Adams. The U.S. extended its lead to 14-9 with an Adams block and ace around a Murphy kill. Team USA reached the second technical timeout leading 16-10 after a Murphy block and Dixon kill. Dixon and Robinson notched kills, which were followed by blocks from Adams and Klineman to extend USA’s lead to 20-12. Team USA went on to tie the match by winning set two on a service error at 25-17.

Robinson nailed consecutive kills to give the Americans an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout of the third set. Japan came back with two quick points out of the break to close its deficit to 8-7. Adams followed a Japan service error with a kill to yield an 11-8 U.S. margin. Japan trimmed its deficit to one at 12-11 with back-to-back points. The U.S. widened its advantage to 16-12 with a Dixon block between two Japan errors. However, Japan cut the deficit in half after the second technical timeout with back-to-back points at 16-14. Japan notched three unanswered points to square the set at 18-all. Murphy answered with a kill and Japan hit wide to give the U.S. a two-point cushion at 20-18 heading into a Japan timeout. Japan came out of the huddle with two quick points to tie the score at 20-all, then went in front 22-21 as part of a 4-1 run. Dixon downed a kill after a Japan service error to produce a 23-22 advantage for the U.S. Hill followed with a kill and Murphy served the winning ace at 25-22.

Japan inched its way to a 10-7 advantage in the fourth set, then scored four unanswered points to grab a 14-8 advantage. Japan stretched the lead to 17-10 with points on each side of the second technical timeout. Team USA turned in blocks from Murphy and Dixon followed by an Adams ace to cut the deficit to 17-13. Out of a Japan timeout, Dixon scored and Murphy scored kills to close the gap to 17-15. Out of a second quick Japan timeout, Dixon connected for a kill and Japan committed consecutive errors to give the U.S. an 18-17 advantage. Murphy capped the 10-0 run on Adams’ serve with a kill and block at 20-17. Hill scored consecutive kills to push the American lead to 22-18. Japan charged back with five unanswered points to take the lead at 23-22 and won 26-24 on its second set point opportunity.

Hill scored two kills after a Murphy kill to put the U.S. in front 3-0 to start the deciding fifth set. Japan came back to take a 5-4 lead with five of the next six points. The Japanese extended their lead to 7-5 with back-to-back points. However, Dixon and Glass came back with kills to knot the score at 7-all. Dixon gave the U.S. an 8-7 lead at the court switch with a slide kill. Robinson slammed a kill and put up a block on back-to-back plays to push the American lead to 10-8. Robinson scored two straight kills to lift the U.S. advantage to 12-9. Hill gave the U.S. match points at 14-10 with a kill after a Japan attack error. Team USA finished the set at 15-11 with a block.

The U.S. won the FIVB World Grand Prix title three consecutive years from 2010 to 2012, but are looking to bounce back from a disappointing sixth-place finish last year in Japan. The Americans have won the tournament five times, including 1995 and 2001. Ironically, all five Team USA titles have been earned in China.

For additional information on the FIVB World Grand Prix, click here.

U.S. Women’s National Team Preliminary Roster for FIVB World Grand Prix
(see legend for corresponding World Grand Prix Preliminary Round Roster)

# - Name (Position, Ht, Hometown, College)
1 – Alisha Glass ^ (S, 6-0, Leland, Mich., Penn State)
2 – Kayla Banwarth ^ (L, 5-10, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
3 – Courtney Thompson ^ (S, 5-8, Kent, Wash., University of Washington)
4 – Lauren Paolini (MB, 6-4, Ann Arbor, Mich., University of Texas)
5 – Tama Miyashiro (L, 5-7, Kaneohe, Hawaii, University of Washington)
6 – Nicole Davis ^ (L, 5-4, Stockton, Calif., University of Southern California)
7 – Cassidy Lichtman ^ (OH, 6-1, Poway, Calif., Stanford University)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer ^ (MB, 6-2, St. Paul, Minn., University of Minnesota)
9 – Kristin Hildebrand ^ (OH, 6-1, Orem, Utah, Stanford University)
10 – Jordan Larson-Burbach (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., University of Nebraska)
11 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, Bonsall, Calif., University of California-Berkeley)
12 – Kelly Murphy ^ (OPP, 6-2, Wilmington, Ill., University of Florida)
13 – Christa Harmotto (MB, 6-2, Hopewell Township, Pa., Penn State)
14 – Nicole Fawcett (OPP, 6-4, Zanesfield, Ohio, Penn State)
15 – Kim Hill ^  (OH, 6-4, Portland, Ore., Pepperdine University)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo ^ (MB, 6-3, Plantation, Fla., Stanford University)
17 – Alix Klineman ^ (OPP, 6-5, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Stanford University)
18 – Bailey Webster (OPP, 6-3, Baltimore, Md., University of Texas)
19 – Kelsey Robinson ^ (OH, 6-2, Bartlett, Ill., University of Nebraska)
20 – Jenna Hagglund (S, 5-10, West Chester, Ohio, University of Washington)
21 – Tori Dixon ^ (MB, 6-3, Burnsville, Minn., University of Minnesota)
22 – Rachael Adams ^ (MB, 6-2, Cincinnati, Ohio, University of Texas)
^ = Weekend 1 (at Turkey); # = Weekend 2 (at Brazil); * = Weekend 3 (at Thailand); @ = Final Round (at Japan)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Jamie Morrison, Tom Black
Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek
Team Manager: John Xie/Jamison Van Niel

2014 FIVB World Grand Prix Schedule (1st Group)

Pool A (at Ankara, Turkey)
Aug. 1: Russia def. USA 22-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-20
Aug. 1: Turkey def. Japan 29-27, 25-19, 25-21
Aug. 2: Russia def. Japan 25-23, 25-13, 24-26, 25-18
Aug. 2: Turkey def. USA 25-21, 27-29, 25-21, 20-25, 15-12
Aug. 3: USA def. Japan 25-27, 25-17, 25-22, 24-26, 15-11
Aug. 3: Russia vs. Turkey, 9 a.m. PT

Pool B (at Ansan, Korea)
Aug. 1: Serbia def. Germany 26-24, 25-20, 25-15
Aug. 1: Korea def. Thailand 23-25, 25-22, 25-16, 25-20
Aug. 2: Korea def. Germany 21-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-21
Aug. 2: Thailand def. Serbia 25-19, 18-25, 20-25, 25-19, 15-13
Aug. 3: Serbia def. Korea 25-22, 26-24, 21-25, 25-9
Aug. 3: Germany def. Thailand 25-21, 25-22, 25-21

Pool C (at Sassari, Italy)
Aug. 1: Brazil def. China 25-21, 23-25, 25-17, 25-16
Aug. 1: Italy def. Dominican Republic 25-18, 25-23, 25-15
Aug. 2: China def. Dominican Republic 25-18, 25-21, 25-23
Aug. 2: Brazil def. Italy 25-21, 25-16, 25-15
Aug. 3: Brazil def. Dominican Republic 26-24, 25-19, 25-18
Aug. 3: Italy vs. China, 11 a.m. PT

Pool D (at Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Aug. 8: USA vs. Russia, 7 a.m. PT
Aug. 8: Brazil vs. Korea, 10:45 a.m. PT
Aug. 9: Brazil vs. Russia, 6 a.m. PT
Aug. 9: USA vs. Korea, 8:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 10: USA vs. Brazil, 6 a.m. PT
Aug. 10: Russia vs. Korea, 8:30 a.m. PT

Pool E (at Ankara, Turkey)
Aug. 8: Serbia vs. Germany, 6 a.m. PT
Aug. 8: Turkey vs. Dominican Republic, 9 a.m. PT
Aug. 9: Germany vs. Dominican Republic, 6 a.m. PT
Aug. 9: Turkey vs. Serbia, 9 a.m. PT
Aug. 10: Dominican Republic vs. Serbia, 6 a.m. PT
Aug. 10: Turkey vs. Germany, 9 a.m. PT

Pool F (at Hong Kong)
Aug. 8: Japan vs. Italy, 3:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 8: China vs. Thailand, 5:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 9: Italy vs. Thailand, 10:15 p.m. PT on Aug. 8
Aug. 9: China vs. Japan, 12:45 a.m. PT
Aug. 10: Japan vs. Thailand, 10:15 p.m. PT on Aug. 9
Aug. 10: China vs. Italy, 12:45 a.m. PT

Pool G (at Bangkok, Thailand)
Aug. 15: Thailand vs. Dominican Republic, 2 a.m. PT
Aug. 15: USA vs. Brazil, 4:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 16: Brazil vs. Dominican Republic, midnight PT
Aug. 16: USA vs. Thailand, 2:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 17: USA vs. Dominican Republic, midnight PT
Aug. 17: Thailand vs. Brazil, 2:30 a.m. PT

Pool H (at Kaliningrad, Russia)
Aug. 15: Turkey vs. Germany, 6:40 a.m. PT
Aug. 15: Russia vs. Italy, 10:10 a.m. PT
Aug. 16: Italy vs. Germany, 6:40 a.m. PT
Aug. 16: Russia vs. Turkey, 10:10 a.m. PT
Aug. 17: Italy vs. Turkey, 6:40 a.m. PT
Aug. 17: Germany vs. Russia, 10:10 a.m. PT

Pool I (at Macau, China)
Aug. 15: Japan vs. Serbia, 2 a.m. PT
Aug. 15: China vs. Korea, 5:30 a.m. PT
Aug. 16: Japan vs. Korea, 11:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 15
Aug. 16: China vs. Serbia, 2 a.m. PT
Aug. 17: Korea vs. Serbia, 10 p.m. PT on Aug. 16
Aug. 17: China vs. Japan, 12:30 a.m. PT