USA Women Beat Brazil 3-0

By Charlie Snyder | Oct. 11, 2014, 4:08 p.m. (ET)

MILAN, ITALY  – The U.S. dismantled the No. 1 team in the world, Brazil, 3-0, to advance to the World Championship final to be played Sunday night at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan.

The U.S. Women are seeking their first gold medal in any of the three volleyball majors – the Olympic Games, World Cup and World Championship.

The Americans outscored Brazil, the two-time defending Olympic champion, 25-18, 29-27, 25-20. The U.S. will face China, which stunned the host country, Italy, 3-1. China is coached by "Jenny" Lang Ping, who also served as the head coach of the U.S. Women's Team at the 2008 Olympic Games.

The U.S. has finished second at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games and at the 1967 and 2002 World Championship. China has won two Olympic (1984, 2004), three World Cup (1981, 1985, 2003) and two World titles (1982, 1986). Coach Ping played on four of those title-winning teams. 

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Saturday’s Starting Line-up
Setter: Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.)
Opposite: Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.)
Middle Blocker: Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pa.), Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.)
Outside Hitter: Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb.), Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.)
Libero: Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa)

Saturday’s Stat Leaders
Points: Jordan Larson-Burbach, 15; Kelly Murphy, 13; Kim Hill, 13
Kills: Jordan Larson-Burbach, 13 kills, 2 faults, 22 att.; Kim Hill, 12 kills, 4 faults, 25 att.
Blocks: Christa Dietzen, 3
Aces: Kim Hill, Foluke Akinradewo, Jordan Larson-Burbach, 1
Digs: Kayla Banwarth, 14; Jordan Larson-Burbach, 12; Alisha Glass, 7
Sets: Alisha Glass, 21 ‘running’ sets on 73 attempts
Excellent Receptions: Kayla Banwarth, 15 of 23 att.; Kim Hill, 10 of 23 att.

The U.S. team was well-prepared against an opponent they have faced many times.

“I was joking before the match with Kayla (Banwarth) saying, ‘Gosh, we play these guys so much I’m pretty sure I know their national anthem by now,’ " U.S. Captain Christa Dietzen said. “We know their tendencies and they know ours, but I thought we really executed our game plan and frontloaded every play.”

The team was in the right places and making plays all night, but especially in the first set. The U.S. anticipated well on the block in conjunction with the back-row defense. Someone was there to get the dig or make the pass.

“All of our cylinders were firing in that first set,” Dietzen said.

“Our outsides were taking big swings against a very big block. Brazil’s middles are two of the best in the world, so we put a premium on making sure we were using the outside blockers’ hand. Kim and Jordan just did a phenomenal job.”

Hill was five of eight on attacks; Larson-Burbach was four of six.

One nice run took the U.S. from 13-10 to 18-10 thanks in part to back-to-back attacks from Foluke Akinradewo and Larson-Burbach that were essentially blocked but dropped right at the feet of the Brazilian players and the U.S. controlled the first set. There was great play at the nets by the blockers, who only tallied one block, but greatly influenced what lines Brazil could take and there were great digs off the nets by the defenders.

The U.S. led throughout and took the first set, 25-18, and they did not get rattled when Brazil roared back, taking a 4-11 lead in the second. The U.S. withstood three set points to win the second 29-27.

“We really fought for each other and it came from deep with inside us,” Dietzen said. “The confidence we continue to build upon … just fighting for each other … It’s starting to show in big matches like this.

“We were able to stay calm because we were so dialed in.”

Brazil defeated the U.S. twice on its way to its 10th World Grand Prix title this summer. The South Americans know the Americans well, and how to make a comeback, but it had to hurt to watch three set points go to waste.

“I think that gave us a little bit of a mental advantage over Brazil because they had worked so hard to come back and they almost got to 1-1, and then after all that work, they’re done 2-0,” U.S. Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “It’s not easy to come back from that.” 

The Americans held a comfortable lead throughout the third, and closed it out 25-20. Larson-Burbach scored six in the final set, getting five kills on six attempts and no errors.

“Jordan brought this whole other level that I’ve never even seen before,” Dietzen said. “She was just on fire. It was awesome … not just about her play, but emotionally and from a leadership standpoint.”

Larson-Burbach was the leading scorer in the match with 15. Kelly Murphy and Kim Hill, both in just their second season with the national team, scored 13.

“It feels awesome,” Dietzen said. “Just very thankful for this opportunity and looking forward to whoever ends up winning this next match.”

Team USA has played 12 matches since Sept. 23 and has one to go.

“We have put ourselves in a nice position, but there is a ton of work yet to be done,” Kiraly said. “That’s a nice win against a legendary program. If we keep doing the same thing, focusing on the next play and being our best on that play, we can continue to make some good things happen.”

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Oct. 11         
USA def BRA | 11:30a ET, streamed live | 4-5:30p ET, shown on TV
ITA vs. CHN | 2:45 ET, streamed live | 5:30-7p ET, shown on TV          

Oct. 12                
BRA vs. ITA/CHN | 11:30a ET, streamed live | 4-5:30p ET, shown on TV
USA vs. ITA/CHN | 2p ET, streamed live | 5:30-7p ET, shown on TV

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 Russia, Netherlands, Kazakhstan and Mexico in Verona. In the second round the U.S. competed in Pool F with Brazil, Serbia, Turkey and Bulgaria with two matches in Modena and Verona. For the third and Final Round, the U.S. played Italy, Russia, and Brazil. The gold-medal match is tomorrow at 8p (local).

Follow along with @USAVolleyball and #FIVBWomensWCH on Twitter and Instagram.

Third-Round Matches
Oct. 8 … USA vs. Italy … Italy wins 25-23, 25-22, 25-20 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Oct. 9 … USA vs. Russia … USA wins 25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 25-23 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Oct. 11 … USA vs. Brazil … 28-18, 29-27, 25-20 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page

Second-Round Results
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 … Brazil wins 25-23, 25-22, 25-21 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page

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

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