Team USA Qualifies For Second Round at Worlds

By Charlie Snyder | Sept. 25, 2014, 6:38 p.m. (ET)

VERONA, Italy (Sept. 25, 2014) – With its 29-27, 25-21, 25-18 win over the Netherlands on Thursday, the United States has earned a berth to the second round of 16 teams at the FIVB Women’s World Championship at the PalaOlimpia in Verona, Italy.

The Americans will join two-time defending world champion, Russia; two-time defending Olympic champion, Brazil; Italy China, the Dominic Republic and Germany in the second round.

Team USA will compete in Pool F with Brazil and Russia and five other countries to be determined in the second round. Read the complete FIVB release on second-round qualifiers.

The U.S. and Russia are now 3-0 and are sitting atop Pool C. Netherlands fall to 2-1 heading into Friday’s day off from competition. Team USA will resume first-round action on Saturday against Thailand and Sunday versus Russia.

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Thursday’s Starting Lineup
Setter: Alicia Glass (Leland, Mich.)
Opposite: Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.)
Middle Blocker: Olympian Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pa.), Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minn.)
Outside Hitter: Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.), Olympian Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb.)
Libero: Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa)

On Thursday, the U.S. was led by Team Captain Christa (Harmotto) Dietzen, who was playing in just her second match with the National Team since May. She had micro fracture knee surgery in December and hasn’t been in top form since.

  Christa Dietzen attacks off a set from Alisha Glass.

“It’s been a long and difficult road with ups and downs for Christa,” U.S. Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “She should feel very proud for how hard she’s worked. I’m happy for her.”

Dietzen, who was married in June, struggled with swelling and inflammation all summer, sitting out all National Team competitions while rehabbing her right knee.

So when the team really needed her, due to the absence of injured starting middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.), Dietzen came through with 14 points on nine of 12 attacks, plus four blocks and an ace.

“It was nice timing because … we all wanted Foluke to play tonight and she was not able to, so we’ll see how that progresses after her knee tweak yesterday,” Kiraly said.

The young U.S. team voted Dietzen their captain for a reason; they need her to lead and that’s what she did when Netherlands pushed the U.S. in the first set that Team USA won, 29-27.

“The Netherlands came out very strong in the match and I think we responded very well,” Dietzen said.

“Coming into the second set, I was just telling the girls, ‘Hey we’re doing a great job. Even if we get aced or something doesn’t go our way, we’re on to the next point,’ which is something that we’ve been working on as a team and it’s something that will be important for us down the stretch in this tournament.”

The U.S. came away with each of the next two sets, but seemed to have a hard time putting away the Netherlands; a team Kiraly called, “deceptively good” and “a team on the rise.”  

But in the first round, the most important thing is to get the win and to get the three points awarded from the World Championship scoring system.

“From this point forward, the matches only get tougher,” Kiraly said. “The more points we have early helps us a little later on. These three points were important and now we focus on Thailand.”

Kim Hill continued to provide Team USA will strength on a number of fronts. She tied Dietzen in scoring with 14 points, led with 12 kills hitting 44 percent with no errors, added two blocks, 14 digs and was credited with 11 excellent receptions on 14 chances.

Olympic veteran Jordan Larson-Burbach had 13 points on eight of 28 attacks, three blocks, two aces and was credited with 15 excellent receptions on 28 chances.

Libero Kayla Banwarth led the team with 10 digs and was credited with 17 excellent receptions on 25 attempts.

And along with Dietzen, Tori Dixon was effective scoring from the middle, posting 10 points on 7 of 11 slides and short sets, plus added two blocks and an ace.

“We put a premium on playing good volleyball,” Dietzen said. “It’s not about the spectacular play; we run our system, we run our speed. I thought that they struggle part of the time with our speed of the sets to the pins.

“I thought Alicia did a great job of distributing the ball. I thought it was a good win against a good team.”

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 are in Pool C two-time defending World champions from Russia, along with Thailand, Netherlands, Kazakhstan and Mexico. The top four teams advance to the second round on Oct. 1-5.

First-Round Schedule (All times local)
Sept. 23 … Mexico … USA wins 19-25, 25-11, 25-20, 25-14
Sept. 24 … Kazakhstan … USA wins 25-15, 25-20, 25-22
Sept. 25 … Netherlands … USA wins 29-27, 25-21, 25-18
Sept. 27 … Thailand at 8 p.m.
Sept. 28 … Russia at 8 p.m.

All first-round matches will be streamed live on Streaming plans for second round matches Oct. 1-5 will be announced.

Universal Sports will begin televising matches in the Final Round, Oct. 8-10, the semifinals (Oct. 11) and the medal matches (Oct. 12). These matches will be played in Milan at the Mediolanum Forum.

You can find the full event schedule here.

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