Undefeated: Team USA Beats Serbia at Worlds

Oct. 04, 2014, 1:09 p.m. (ET)

VERONA, Italy (Oct. 4, 2014) – The U.S. defeated Serbia, the No. 8 team in the world, in straight sets, 25-22, 25-20, 25-22 to remain undefeated (8-0) at the FIVB Women’s World Championship at the PalaOlimpia in Verona, Italy.

Tomorrow, with their ticket to the Final Round of six teams already punched, the Americans will take on the No. 1 team in the world, Brazil, in the final match of the second round.

The U.S. hosted Brazil at the USA Volleyball Cup, four friendly matches this past July, winning all four, but then fell to the Brazilians in both matches at the FIVB Grand Prix Final; an event Brazil won for the 10th time. Brazil has lost the last two World Championship finals to Russia and has won the last two Olympic gold-medal finals over Team USA.

Neither Brazil nor the U.S. has won a World title.

“Maybe one of us will take it, maybe another team will,” U.S. Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “There are lots of good teams here. Serbia is one of them, Italy, Japan, China, Russia, the Dominican Republic … all of those teams, I think, are capable of winning here.”

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This match had a similar intensity, especially in the first set, as the first-round match against Russia. Serbia unloaded attacks from both sides and the middle with a mix of dinks and dunks that saw the U.S. players sprawled all over the court, diving and digging the attacks. In fact on two occasions, balls were hit over the net by players lying on the floor, one by Tori Dixon and one by Kelsey Robinson.

“I don’t think the scores really show how hard it was, I mean, it was 18-18 almost every set,” Robinson said. “They didn’t break until we had a good service run at the end of every game. They were coming at us and we were really steady.”

The score in the first set was tied at 21-21 in front of a boisterous crowd with a large contingent of Serbian fans who enjoyed jeering the Americans during their serves. This was in stark contrast to the first two matches in the second round in Modena, where the crowds were rather reserved.

In Verona, the crowd was raucous, especially at 21-21, but Kelly Murphy rocketed a kill down the line to give the U.S. the lead. She then served up an ace. One play later Tori Dixon got a stuff block for the set, 25-22. The U.S. was helped by great digs and receptions by Kayla Banwarth and four points by Murphy and Robinson, but also by five service faults by the Serbs.

The Serbs were led by Brankica Mihajlovic (#9), who scored 11 and Tijana Boskovic (#19), who led all scorers with 15. Boskovic, an opposite, just turned 17 in August. In the first set the pair combined for 12 points, but was held to seven in the second.   

But that didn’t mean the track meet was over for the U.S. in the second set. With the score 14-13, Mihajlovic nailed a huge serve and the first touch went flying. It looked like it might sail out-of-bounds on the Serbian side of the net, but Robinson got on her horse and chased it down, hit it back and the ball went over. But then Boskovic, a huge lefthander, hit a crushing cross-court kill.

But the U.S. didn’t back down.

“The one thing our team prides itself on is our ability to fight and work hard and outwork the other team,” Robinson said. “Eventually when you do those things, the other team is going to break at some point. I think tonight we did a really good job of that.”

Kiraly said he appreciates players who give their all on every play.

“She’s got a lot of energy,” Kiraly said. “She clearly looks like she enjoys what she’s doing. It’s probably the thing she enjoys most in the world is just making good volleyball plays and that energizes those around her. It’s a nice combination, especially when you are making a lot of good plays.”

For Robinson playing in her first World Championship, it’s been a learning experience.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said. “I’ve just had a lot of help from a lot of people. Jordan (Larson-Burbach) is so good at telling me what shots to do and how to block. Just being able to watch when I’m not playing, learning, so it’s so much fun every time I have a chance to play.”

Trailing 18-16, Kiraly brought in Courtney Thompson and Nicole Fawcett and started a nice run. Fawcett started it with a powerful kill. Robinson got an ace. Kim Hill sent a long set to the other side of the net and Fawcett put it away. The Serbs called timeout. Back from timeout, Robinson got another ace to make it 20-18. A few plays later Fawcett got her third kill of the set and the U.S. went on to win set two, 25-20.

“Nic and Courtney have been great off the bench in the role that they play; we call it the dub-sub,” Kiraly said. “Every time they’re giving our team a spark and they’re also giving Alisha and Kelly well needed rest.”

As Robinson said, every set got to 18-18 and the third was no exception.

Trailing  18-17, Murphy took over with three kills with a Hill ace and that took the score to 21-18. Robinson had a block and a kill as the U.S. closed out the set and the match 25-22.

“I think the unit we put out there today … they’ve got a lot to be proud of,” Kiraly said. “We had a good game plan and they executed it really, really well. I’m proud of our group of 14. Every day it’s been a group effort.”

Tonight’s Starting Line-up

Setter: Alicia Glass (Leland, Mich.)

Opposite: Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.)

Middle Blocker: Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minn.), Rachael Adams (Cincinnati)

Outside Hitter: Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.), Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Ill)

Libero: Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa)

Tonight’s Stat Leaders

Points: Kelly Murphy, 14; Kelsey Robinson, 12; Kim Hill, 11

Kills: Kelly Murphy, 13 on 21 attempts; Kim Hill, 9 on 19; Kelsey Robinson, 8 of 18

Blocks: Alicia Glass, 4; Rachael Adams, 3

Aces: Kelsey Robinson, 2; Rachael Adams, Kelley Murphy, Kim Hill, 1

Digs: Kayla Banwarth, 11; Alisha Glass, 10; Kelly Murphy, Kelsey Robinson, 6

Sets: Alisha Glass, 18 ‘running’ sets on 33 attempts

Excellent Receptions: Kelsey Robinson, 11 of 14 att.; Kayla Banwarth, 10 of 15 att.

Pool F

USA, 18 points … after eight matches

Brazil, 14 … playing Russia tonight

Serbia, 11 … after eight matches

Russia, 10 … playing Brazil tonight

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 … USA wins 27-29, 25-19, 25-23, 25-15 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page

Oct. 2 … Bulgaria … USA wins 25-17, 25-19, 25-16 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page

Oct. 4 … Serbia … USA wins 25-22, 25-20, 25-22 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page

Oct. 5 … Brazil at 8p …

First-Round Results

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                                                                             

Assistant Coaches: Jamie Morrison, Marv Dunphy
Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey                                                         

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