OKAYAMA, Japan (Aug. 31, 2015) – The top-ranked U.S. Women’s National Team won its fifth straight match of the FIVB World Cup by defeating Argentina 25-16, 25-19, 25-14 Monday afternoon in Okayama, Japan, and in the process, made a step up to the top spot in the standings.
Team USA improves to 6-1 overall with 19 points and moved into the World Cup lead after previously undefeated Russia (6-1, 18 points) lost in five sets to Serbia (6-1, 16 points). China (5-1, 15 points) and Japan (5-1, 15 points) also have just one loss. The top two teams at the end of the 11-match round-robin tournament earns bids into the 2016 Olympic Games.
The U.S. had balanced scoring among its starting players. Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) and Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.) led the Americans with 13 points apiece. Lowe turned in 11 kills on 19 attacks and two aces, while Hill charted nine kills on 17 attacks, three aces and a block. Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb.) contributed 12 points with 10 kills on 21 attacks and two aces.
“It is one of our strengths in having people who can put the ball away from all over the court," Hill said. "Definitely having a balanced offense is one of the reasons we are good.”
“We know each other well, Argentina and the United States; they always play hard and they play well so we knew it would be a good challenge today and it was,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said.
Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.), selected as the most impressive player of the match, pocketed 11 points with nine kills on 16 swings and two blocks. Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pa.) notched nine points with five kills on 10 errorless swings and a team-best four blocks.
“I thought our team didn’t start off as well as we wanted to,” Dietzen said. “I think our rhythm was off at times and our block and defense could have been cleaner, but I thought we made the adjustments necessary. We found more of our rhythm in the third set. I think Argentina’s outside hitters use the block very well and mix up their shots and throw in some tips, and I think they used the edges of the block pretty well.”
Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) came off the bench in all three sets to produce seven points including five kills on eight errorless attacks and two blocks. Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) tallied two kills on as many attacks and Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) rounded out the scoring with one kill on two swings as a sub in the second set.
Larson-Burbach produced a team-high 11 digs in the victory, while libero Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) amassed eight digs and six excellent receptions on eight errorless chances. Hill had 10 excellent receptions on 24 attempts – both team highs, to go with seven digs.
Glass was credited with 20 running sets on 57 chances and Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.), who subbed in with Fawcett as part of the double-switch in all three sets, added seven running sets on 21 chances. The two setters combined to run the Team USA offense to a 54.7 kill percent and .463 hitting efficiency (52-8-95).
Team USA held a 52-32 advantage in kills and a 7-1 margin in aces. The Americans edged the Argentineans in blocks, 9-6. The U.S. limited its errors to 10 in the match, while Argentina held its mistakes to seven in a clean match. The U.S. defense held Argentina to a 37.2 kill percent and .256 hitting efficiency (32-10-86).
“Our goals were to serve a lot better than we did yesterday,” Kiraly said. “I think we improved in that phase of our game, and put pressure on our opponents. We wanted to be good in our transition offense and we were pretty good there, but our block and defense still have some work to go.”
“As for serving, it’s something we’ve been working on,” Dietzen said. “We call it ‘flean’ or flat and clean, hitting balls that are low and over the net so it gets on to the passers very quickly. I thought we made some nice upgrades in that department today.”
The Americans finish the second round in Okayama versus NORCECA rival Cuba on Sept. 1 (5:40 a.m. ET). Team USA concludes the World Cup in Nagoya with pivotal matches against Russia on Sept. 4, Japan on Sept. 5 and Dominican Republic on Sept. 6. The top two teams in the 12-team, round-robin World Cup earn berths into the 2016 Olympic Games.
Argentina scored the first two points of the opening set, but Dietzen tied the set at 2-all with a block after an Argentina error. Argentina rebuilt its two-point cushion at 4-2 with an ace. Lowe tied the set against 4-all with a kill, then Hill served an ace to yield Team USA’s first lead at 5-4. Larson-Burbach downed consecutive kills to push the American lead to 7-5. Lowe connected for a kill and ace on each side of the first technical time out to expand the U.S. advantage to 9-6. Larson-Burbach and Dietzen scored back-to-back kills to inch Team USA’s lead to 14-10 forcing Argentina into a timeout. After USA built its lead to 17-11, Argentina battled back to within 18-15. Fawcett scored three quick points in a row to establish a 22-15 USA lead. Larson-Burbach added to the run with an ace at 23-15. Hill ended the set with a block at 25-16.
After Argentina led 4-3 early in the second set, Lowe downed a kill and served an ace to change the lead back to Team USA at 5-4. Akinradewo blocked Argentina one play before Argentina was called for an error to send Team USA into the first technical timeout leading 8-5. Argentina rallied to level the set at 13-all. Larson-Burbach and Hill connected for back-to-back kills to give the U.S. a two-point cushion at the second technical timeout at 16-14. Argentina came back to square the set again at 18-all before Dietzen took an overpass for a kill. Without a setter on the court, Larson-Burbach set Lowe for a kill to push the American lead to 20-18. Lowe and Larson-Burbach hit consecutive cross-court winners to extend the American lead to 23-19. Hill served an ace to give set points at 24-19, then Argentina hit an error to end the set at 25-19 on a 4-0 run.
Hill and Dietzen scored the first two points of the third set. Akinradewo hit consecutive slides to produce a 7-3 American lead. Dietzen notched back-to-back kills prompting Argentina to call timeout trailing 10-4. Hill pounded a kill and served an ace on consecutive plays to improve the American lead to 13-7. Team USA reached the second technical timeout leading 16-8. Argentina scored four straight out of the break to close to 16-12. Larson-Burbach broke the run with two straight points to prompt Argentina to call timeout down 18-12. Out of the break, Fawcett crushed a kill and put up a block at 20-12 for a third and fourth straight American point. Akinradewo tallied a kill and block to extend the U.S. lead to 22-13, then Larson-Burbach scored an ace at 23-13. Hill ended the match with a kill at 25-14.
All Team USA contests at the World Cup, can be watched live online at universalsports.com/Olympics as well as on a tape-delay basis on its Universal Sports television.
U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team Roster for FIVB World Cup
# - Name (Position, Ht, Hometown, College)
1 – Alisha Glass (S, 6-0, Leland, Mich., Penn State University)
2 – Kayla Banwarth (L, 5-10, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (MB, 6-2, St. Paul, Minn., University of Minnesota)
10 – Jordan Larson-Burbach (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., University of Nebraska)
11 – Megan Easy (OH, 6-3, Boston, Mass., Penn State University)
13 – Christa Dietzen (MB, 6-2, Hopewell Township, Pa., Penn State University)
14 – Nicole Fawcett (OPP, 6-4, Zanesfield, Ohio, Penn State University)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Portland, Ore., Pepperdine University)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (MB, 6-3, Plantation, Fla., Stanford University)
17 – Natalie Hagglund (L, 5-9, Encinitas, Calif., University of Southern California)
18 – Molly Kreklow (S, 5-9, Delano, Minn., University of Missouri)
21 – Tori Dixon (MB, 6-3, Burnsville, Minn., University of Minnesota)
23 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Bartlett, Ill., University of Nebraska)
25 – Karsta Lowe (OPP, 6-4, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., UCLA)
Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Jamie Morrison and Tom Black
Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey
Team Manager: Denise Sheldon
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek
Team Doctors: Dr. William Briner, Jr. and Dr. Andrew Gregory
Consultant Coaches: Marv Dunphy and David Hunt
2015 FIVB World Cup Schedule (Local Time/ET Time – Television Time on Universal)
Aug. 22: USA def. Korea 25-15, 25-22, 25-15
Aug. 23: Serbia def. USA 25-20, 22-25, 18-25, 25-19, 15-6
Aug. 24: USA def. China 25-23, 25-17, 25-23
Aug. 26: USA def. Peru 25-17, 25-15, 25-12
Aug. 27: USA def. Algeria 25-7, 25-2, 25-5
Aug. 30: USA def. Kenya 25-15, 25-16, 25-13
Aug. 31: USA def. Argentina 25-16, 25-19, 25-14
Sept. 1: USA vs. Cuba (6:40 p.m./5:40 a.m. – 5 p.m.) (at Okayama)
Sept. 4: USA vs. Russia (3:10 p.m./2:10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.) (at Nagoya)
Sept. 5: USA vs. Japan (7:20 p.m./6:20 a.m. – 6 p.m.) (at Nagoya)
Sept. 6: USA vs. Dominican Republic (3:10 p.m./2:10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) (at Nagoya)