MODENA, Italy (Oct. 2, 2014) – The U.S. Women beat Bulgaria in straight sets 25-17, 25-19, 25-16 on Thursday to run their FIVB World Championship record to a perfect 7-0 at the PalaPanini in Modena, Italy.
This is the second time that the U.S. has won its first seven matches at the World Championship. In 2002, Team USA won 10 in a row before falling to Italy in the final.
The U.S. Women sit atop Pool F with 15 points. Brazil (14), Serbia (11) and Russia (10) following. The top three teams at the end of the second round advance to the final round in Milan. The U.S. returns to Verona tomorrow for matches against Serbia (Oct. 4) and world’s number one Brazil (Oct. 5).
Tonight’s Starting Line-up
Setter: Alicia Glass (Leland, Mich.)
Opposite: Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.)
Middle Blocker: Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minn.), Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.)
Outside Hitter: Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.), Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Ill)
Libero: Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa)
Tonight’s Stat Leaders
Points: Kelly Murphy, 16; Kim Hill, 14
Kills: Kelly Murphy, 14 on 21 attempts; Kim Hill, 9 on 20; Kelsey Robinson, 7 of 20
Blocks: Kelsey Robinson, 2; Kelly Murphy, 2
Aces: Kim Hill, 4; Courtney Thompson, Tori Dixon, Foluke Akinradewo, 1
Digs: Kayla Banwarth, 12; Kim Hill, 8; Alisha Glass, 6
Sets: Alisha Glass, 24 ‘running’ sets on 38 attempts
Excellent Receptions: Kelsey Robinson, 12 of 21 attempts; Kim Hill, 9 of 16 attempts
On Thursday, the U.S. offense was just too much for Bulgaria, which made an effort to take away the middle. That emphasis, plus the speed of the U.S. offense, allowed the American right-side hitters, often facing one blocker, to tee off.
| Kim Hill attacks against Bulgaria on Thursday.
The U.S. hit 45 percent as a team, led by Kelly Murphy, who had 14 kills on 21 attempts with no errors.
‘We knew that we had to take care of business today,” Murphy said. “Bulgaria is a good team. They fight really hard. We just went out there and decided to focus on our side of the net and I think we did a good job of that.
“(Being 7-0 is) definitely good for our confidence. I think we’re getting better every match and we’re in a good rhythm right now.”
Bulgaria was in each set about halfway through and then the U.S. would go on a run.
In the first set, the score was tied when Courtney Thompson sent a short set to Foluke Akinradewo, who nearly jumped out of the gym with an attack that took the teams to the second technical timeout, 16-15. Coming out of the timeout, the momentum continued to swing with a strong Nicole Fawcett block, followed by an ace by Akinradewo. Kim Hill then served out the set from 20-17 onward. That set ended with several high-impact plays by Tori Dixon at the net slamming a block to the floor, back-to-back Murphy kills, and a thunderous attack by Kelsey Robinson for the set. A 10-2 run completed, 25-17.
(Robinson was named the match’s Most Impressive Player by the FIVB.)
In the second set, it was all tied up at 9-9, when Dixon and Thompson combined for a 9-1 run with Murphy, Robinson and Nicole Fawcett all getting in on the offense. The U.S. got up 21-13 and Bulgaria fought back to 23-19, until a Robinson block and Murphy down-the-line ended it at 25-19.
The third set was all tied up at 11-11, when Hill, again, took over the serving. She rang up seven straight points, including three straight aces … four aces total during that one run. The U.S. sealed the deal 25-16.
“Whew man, she’s got a wicked serve,” Kiraly said. “She’s 6-4, jumps well, hits it high, and hits it down over the net essentially, so I’m glad that I’m not a passer over there because it is really, really tough.”
What’s it like when the team goes on a service run?
“It feels really good,” Murphy said. “We got on a couple rolls and you just feel like you have the momentum. It’s easier to play that way. You know they’re going to put a good serve up and then we’ll be in good situations and be able to get a stop and score some points.
“Kim did a good job of hitting a good serve. We were able to put up a good block and play defense around it. It definitely makes our job easier.”
The Americans played good defense too, allowing Bulgaria only one run of more than two points.
“That’s really important,” Murphy said. “We talk about our first ball siding out and our passers did a really good job, getting good passes. It made the hitters’ job easier. We were able to get some good looks and one-on-ones back there.”
A year ago, at the Grand Prix Finals Bulgaria beat the U.S. in the first match and took the Americans to five in the second match, so Kiraly and the team came into tonight’s match with a great deal of respect for their opponents.
“Bulgaria, if they get going, are a handful,” Kiraly said. “Knowing that every point is precious, we want to keep the pressure on. And we’re glad to get out of here with three points, after you see, Russia who also is hungry for points, end up coming out with one (with a lost tonight to Turkey), so every rally we play, every set we play, every match we play are a big deal."
China, 14 points
Dominican Republic, 11
USA, 15 points
The World Championship, held every four years, is the largest FIVB major championship with 24 teams competing in four groups. In the first round, the Americans played in Pool C with two-time defending champions Russia, along with Thailand, Netherlands, Kazakhstan and Mexico. In the second round the U.S. will compete in Pool F against Brazil, Serbia, Turkey and Bulgaria. The U.S. will play two matches in Modena (Oct. 1-2) and Verona (Oct. 4-5).
Second-Round Matches (All times local)
Full Event Schedule | Current Pool Rankings
Oct. 1 … Turkey at 5p … USA wins 27-29, 25-19, 25-23, 25-15 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Oct. 2 … Bulgaria at 8p … USA wins 25-17, 25-19, 25-16 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Oct. 4 … Serbia at 5p …
Oct. 5 … Brazil at 8p …
Sept. 23 … Mexico … USA wins 19-25, 25-11, 25-20, 25-14 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Sept. 24 … Kazakhstan … USA wins 25-15, 25-20, 25-22 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Sept. 25 … Netherlands … USA wins 29-27, 25-21, 25-18 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Sept. 27 … Thailand … USA wins 25-15, 25-23, 25-20 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Sept. 28 … Russia … USA wins 34-32, 25-19, 29-31, 26-24 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Live Streaming on UniversalSports.com
Second-round matches will be streamed live on UniversalSports.com. Television broadcasts begin on Oct. 8 through the title match on Oct. 12. Universal Sports will show 10 matches with special taped 90-minute editions on the same day of the match. Two matches will be shown back-to-back for three hours of volleyball coverage beginning at 4p ET on Oct. 8-12.
Oct. 1 … USA vs. Turkey … 5p local / 11a ET | Brazil vs. Kazakhstan … 8p local / 2p ET
Oct. 2 … Brazil vs. Netherlands … 5p local / 11a ET | USA vs. Bulgaria … 8p local / 2p ET
Oct. 4 … USA vs. Serbia … 5p local / 11a ET | Brazil vs. Russia … 8p local / 2p ET
Oct. 5 … Russia vs. Serbia … 5p local / 11a ET | USA vs. Brazil … 8p local / 2p ET
TEAM USA | 2014 FIVB World Championships
# - Name … Position … Height … Hometown … College
1 – Alisha Glass … Setter … 6-0 … Leland, Mich. … Penn State
2 – Kayla Banwarth … Libero … 5-10 … Dubuque, Iowa … Nebraska
3 – Courtney Thompson … Setter … 5-8 … Kent, Wash. … Washington
6 – Nicole Davis … Libero … 5-4 … Stockton, Calif. … USC
9 – Kristin Hildebrand … Outside Hitter … 6-1 … Orem, Utah … Stanford
10 – Jordan Larson-Burbach … Outside Hitter … 6-2 … Hooper, Neb. … Nebraska
12 – Kelly Murphy … Opposite … 6-2 … Wilmington, Ill. … Florida
13 – Christa Dietzen … Middle Blocker … 6-2 … Hopewell Township, Pa. … Penn State
14 – Nicole Fawcett … Opposite … 6-4 … Zanesfield, Ohio … Penn State
15 – Kim Hill … Outside Hitter … 6-4 … Portland, Ore. … Pepperdine
16 – Foluke Akinradewo … Middle Blocker … 6-3 … Plantation, Fla. … Stanford
19 – Kelsey Robinson … Outside Hitter … 6-2 … Bartlett, Ill. … Nebraska
21 – Tori Dixon … Middle Blocker … 6-3 … Burnsville, Minn. … Minnesota
22 – Rachael Adams … Middle Blocker … 6-2 … Cincinnati, Ohio … Texas
Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek
Doctors: Dr. Andrew Gregory and Dr. William Stetson
Medical Support: Dustin Glass
Consultant Coaches: David Hunt, Jamison Van Niel
Team Manager: Denise Sheldon