Team USA Dispatches Thailand in Three

Sept. 27, 2014, 4:51 p.m. (ET)

VERONA, Italy (Sept. 26, 2014) – With its fourth win in a row on Saturday, the U.S. Women’s National Team will now face the two-time defending world champion, Russia on Sunday in a battle of the unbeaten in the final match of the first round of the FIVB World Championships.

On Saturday, the Americans dispatched Thailand in three, 25-15, 25-23, 25-20.

The U.S. is ranked second in the world and Russia is fifth. Both teams are 4-0 with a maximum 12 points and have already qualified for the second round of Worlds on Oct 1-5.

“Obviously Russia’s a powerhouse,” U.S. Olympian Jordan Larson-Burbach said. “They’re big. They’re tall. They can hit the ball hard. It will be a great match tomorrow; I’m excited to play.”

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

  Rachael Adams tips the ball against Thailand.

Against Thailand, the U.S. took the first set, 25-15, getting out to quick leads of 8-3, 16-10 and 21-13, led by Larson-Burbach, who scored seven points in the set with four kills and two blocks. But in the second set, Thailand would not give up; leading 21-18, when U.S. Head Coach Karch Kiraly called timeout.

The Americans then reeled off six straight points and finally put the set away, 25-23, with an Alicia Glass stuff block. Kelly Murphy took over this set with four kills in eight chances, one block and two aces.

In the third, the U.S. started hot, leading 7-2, but Thailand rallied to tie the set at 10-10. The U.S. scored four straight and didn’t relinquish the lead again, winning 25-20, getting a strong performance from Nicole Fawcett, who scored five points with two attacks and three blocks.  

“One of the beauties of international women’s volleyball is that there are many varieties and different styles of play,” Kiraly said. “You saw a style tonight with Thailand is very different, fast, with people running all over the place. Some people call it kind of a ‘flying circus’ and tomorrow it will be much higher and taller and powerful with Russia.

“From night to night to night, you have to adjust very quickly and the teams that adjust best will have better results here. And we didn’t do as good of job as we could have. That (match) was closer than it should have been.”

Tori Dixon was the leading U.S. scorer with 11 points on six of 11 kill attempts, three blocks and two aces. Larson-Burbach ended the night with 10 points, three blocks, and nine ‘excellent’ receptions in 10 attempts. Kayla Banwarth had 13 digs and 10 ‘excellent’ receptions out of 16. And Kim Hill added to her ‘excellent’ reception tournament team high with 47 total, 12 in 16 attempts on Saturday.

“There are some things that we’re not happy with, that we need to be dissatisfied with, things that were not so clean,” Kiraly said. “This is not the time to be not clean.”

At the same time, a number of the U.S. top players rested in Saturday in anticipation of not only Russia, but also of a long tournament ahead.

“Thailand’s a scrappy team and they were looking for hands,” Kiraly said. “They’re not the tallest team. Once we focused in on that and worried about just getting our hands over the net and not reaching so high.”

On Sunday, that strategy will flip.

“Russia will be much tougher than any of the four matches that we’ve played so far,” Kiraly said. “They have probably the tallest set of blockers, so we have to do some things to take away that height advantage and play fast.”

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 | 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 at 8 p.m. … USA wins 25-15, 25-23, 25-20 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Sept. 28 … Russia at 8 p.m.

All first-round matches will be streamed live on UniversalSports.com. 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