Beal Blog: Going for Gold

Oct. 11, 2014, 11 p.m. (ET)

Doug Beal is the CEO of USA Volleyball. He is in Milan, Italy for the finals of the FIVB Women's World Championship

MILAN, Italy (Oct. 11, 2014) – What a great night for volleyball and surely a great one for the USA and our women’s team. The two teams that each needed a little help from the last match in their respective pools to even get in the semifinal match proved they belonged by beating the pool winners respectively; the USA over Brazil 3-0 (25-18, 27-25, 25-20); and China over host Italy, 3-1 (25-21, 25-20, 20-25, 28-26)! 

Doug Beal and Karch Kiraly
  Doug Beal, and Karch Kiraly following the U.S. win on Saturday.

The USA was led by its outside hitters Jordan Larson-Burbach and Kim Hill who came up with big kills time and again against the Brazil block. Setter Alisha Glass ran an offense that stayed in rhythm the whole night and made some great sets off a few really tough chances. The middles, Captain Christa (Harmotto) Dietzen and Foluke Akinradewo disrupted the Brazil attack, came up with some key stuffs and Christa was 5 for 5 attacking. The USA passers handled some great serves, turning them into sideouts and we out-dug Brazil by a bunch led by libero Kayla Banwarth. Our “go-to” opposite, Kelly Murphy was steady all match, attracted lots of attention and joined Hill and Larson-Burbach with 12 kills.

USA was particularly good and efficient digging, getting great swings and scoring; beating Brazil 21-13 in that category. Overall we hit for a much higher kill percentage, made far fewer attack errors and thus were attacking at an even greater efficiency (something like 37% to 24%)!! 

I’ve mentioned the double sub that Coach Kiraly likes to use with setter Courtney Thompson and opposite Nicole Fawcett. Tonight (by my very non-computer calculations) they outscored Brazil 17-10 during their time on court for the match!! Hard not to love this tactic and their contribution to the team success. 

This is really a deep, young and improving team. Middles Tori Dixon, Rachael Adams, outsides Kelsey Robinson and Kristin Hildebrand and libero Nicole Davis all played significantly and well to get this team to the Final on Sunday. 

Karch has mentioned to me a number of times how valuable the depth; the quality depth, of this team has been to their performance in this very long and difficult tourney. I know I repeat myself, but we only have four here on the roster who played in the WC in 2010. There are 10 new players. I like talking about this for many reasons; the upside and likely improvement is the big one. The women’s world, like the men’s, is deep, talented, and getting closer and better all the time. Dominican Republic beat China early and just barely lost in five here in Milan. Turkey took Brazil to five sets. Russia will tie for fifth after two consecutive WC gold medals!! Japan was the bronze medal winner in London and ended seventh here! Korea finished fourth in London and didn’t qualify here!! Serbia, Germany, Netherlands and Bulgaria are all good teams and the list goes on. 

The USA Women get to play for a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP title on Sunday for the third time in our history; the other times were 1967 in Japan and 2002 also in Italy. The crowds here in Milan have been fabulous; absolutely sold out and raucous! I’m sure the environment will be electric Sunday night. 

Remember, China is coached by legendary “Jenny” Lang Ping. It is her second stint as their national team coach, surrounding a great four years with the USA, which ended with a SILVER medal in Beijing! Two remarkable players who have guided their respective teams to the top of the world, and each with such a different style of play.  The match is set for 8 p.m. here in Milan, 2 p.m. EDT, and 11 a.m. on the West Coast. Check the USAV web site for broadcast and streaming info on Universal!!  Don’t miss it!!!!   DB