Team USA Finishes First Round 5-0 at Worlds

Sept. 28, 2014, 5:03 p.m. (ET)

VERONA, Italy (Sept. 28, 2014) – The U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Russia, the two-time defending champion, to complete a sweep of all five first-round matches at the FIVB World Championship on Sunday at the PalaOlimpia in Verona, Italy.

The 34-32, 25-19, 29-31, 26-24 U.S. win ended the Russians’ 17-match win streak in World Championship play.

The Americans now advance to the second round where they will play in Pool F with four matches in five days, starting with Turkey (Oct. 1) and Bulgaria (Oct. 2) in Modena, then Serbia (Oct. 4) and Brazil (Oct. 5) in Verona. Pool F is comprised of eight teams; the top three move on to the Final Round. The U.S. is the only team in the tournament to garner the maximum of 15 points in the first round.

Monday is a travel team for Team USA from Verona to Modena. The next match is Wednesday against Turkey, ranked No. 11 in the world, but went 2-3 in the first round of Worlds.

USAV World Site | FIVB World Site | FIVB Match Page | Official FIVB Stats | DataVolley Stats

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

Sunday’s Stat Leaders
Points: Jordan Larson-Burbach, 20
Kills: Kelly Murphy, 20 on 46 attempts; Larson-Burbach, 13 on 36; Kim Hill, 13 on 35
Blocks: Christa Dietzen, 8; Larson-Burbach, 3
Aces: Larson-Burbach, 4; Courtney Thompson, 1
Digs: Alisha Glass, 16; Kayla Banwarth, Larson-Burbach, Hill, 13
Sets: Alisha Glass, 37 ‘running’ sets on 98 attempts
Excellent Receptions: Banwarth, 26 on 38 attempts; Hill, 26 on 41 attempts

Faluke Akinradewo
  Faluke Akinradewo attacks against Russia.

The first set was insane. The Russians are known for their huge front line and they were great. But in the first set, Christa Dietzen dominated early, getting three stuff blocks in a row … boom, boom, boom. Dietzen, the veteran Olympic blocker, who has been out-of-action since May with an injured knee, set the tone and ended the first set with seven points, five on blocks.

It was an impressive opener for the U.S. and the former Miss Harmotto.

“How inspiring for this team to see how hard Christa works through adversity, through injuries, and then come right out and get three or four stuffs right off the bat,” U.S. Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “She’s a driving force on this team, so that was incredibly inspiring.”

Foluke Akinradewo, another veteran Olympian, scored early in the first set after missing two matches with a mild knee injury suffered against Kazakhstan. Dietzen, Akinradewo and the rest of the U.S. front line were ready to get after the taller Russians both on offense and on defense.

“It was a little bit of a blocking showcase by Christa,” Alisha Glass said. “Foluke did a really nice job. They have such a presence, but I’m proud of everybody. Everybody fought hard, everybody contributed in their own way.”

Jordan Larson-Burbach contributed by leading the team in nearly every statistic category. Said Kiraly, “Jordan was spectacular.”

The capacity Italian crowd, armed with noise-making clackers, cheered both teams, but busted out with several USA chants as the first set see-sawed back and forth. The Americans were digging everything it seemed and went off the court for a number of momentum-shifting saves. Finally, the U.S. had a set point at 27-26 and had a service error. Then again at 28-27, and again the serve went out. Finally, after five set points for the U.S., a Kelly Murphy kill brought the score to 33-32 with Jordan Larson-Burbach clocked an ace to give the Americans the first set, 34-32.

Whew!

The U.S. was hustling, blocking and getting great digs on the back row. There were at least a couple players diving into the team’s bench area. And that energy continued throughout the four sets.

The second set was tight until 15-15, when Larson-Burbach and Dietzen went on a blocking and killing spree, so to speak. From 15-15 to 22-16, Larson-Burbach had a block, a kill and an ace. Dietzen scored a couple easy ones with some confusion on the Russia side of the net. The set ended at 25-19.

Third set, same thing. The teams got to 15-15, then something unusual happened; Russia took the lead at 15-16, its first lead since it led 24-23 in the first set. The Russians only held the lead for two points in two-and-a-half sets. The lead changed hands, but the Russians got to set point first at 24-23. The Europeans had three set points, but the U.S. was unyielding. The Americans battled back to get two set points of their own, before the Russians prevailed 31-29.  

Faluke Akinradewo
  The U.S. Women celebrate their victory over Russia.

Kim Hill and Kelly Murphy led the U.S. scoring in the third with seven and six points respectively.

The fourth set was another battle and like the previous three, the U.S. continued to win the extra-effort plays against the powerful Russians. The U.S. won the set and the match 26-24.

“We’re USA,” Glass said. “We pride ourselves on never giving up, never saying die. I think we brought a lot of passion to the game. They gave us a hard fight and we just kept coming at ‘em, like, ‘It’s okay, we’ll take it. We’ll take it and we’ll turn a couple and we’ll make it work. We’ll come out strong in the end.

“But Russia is a great team and I’m sure we’re going to see them again.”

It got to the point that Kiraly was calling timeouts just to give his team a breather.

“It was great, great battle,” Kiraly said. “One team would push; the other team would push back. I loved the battle, the competition and the fact that we had all of these hard fought games. It’s nice to get the win and the three points.

“Now … this tournament’s not over; it’s really starting. So now we have to again regroup and get ready for four very strong teams coming from the other pool with Brazil, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey. Those are all going to be huge battles. We have to really rest up; four tough ones in five days.

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).

First-Round Schedule 
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

Second-Round Schedule (All Times ET)
Oct. 1 … Turkey 11 a.m.
Oct. 2 … Bulgaria 2 p.m.
Oct. 4 … Serbia 11 a.m.
Oct. 5 … Brazil 2 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 shortly.

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