Karsta Lowe High Scorer for USA over China

June 05, 2015, 11:20 p.m. (ET)

HONOLULU (June 5, 2015) – Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) wasn’t part of the U.S. Women’s National Team that defeated China 3-1 in the FIVB World Championship last October, but she made her presence felt in her international debut as No. 1 Team USA defeated No. 3 China 25-22, 25-15, 25-22 on Friday to start the USA Volleyball Cup in Honolulu.

Lowe scored a match-high 16 points with 14 kills on 25 attacks, an ace and a block to start her National Team career. “It is not like you are beating a college, you beat a county,” said Lowe, who played at UCLA last fall.

“I kind of feel like I’m at home here,” Lowe said about returning to play in Honolulu. “It is kind of different and exciting because the fans are cheering for us, my team unlike when I played for UCLA. When we got a kill, the gym was silent when I played with UCLA. It is cool now with Team USA. It is a good environment. I love Hawaii.”

Related: DataVolley Match Statistics | USAV Cup Home Page | U.S. Women's National Team Page

Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.), the most valuable player of last year’s World Championship, tallied 15 points on 13 kills, one block and one ace. Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) collected 14 points with 10 kills on 15 attacks and just one error to go with three aces and a block.

Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.), who got the start at setter, and Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) combined to lead Team USA to a 49 kill percent and a .358 hitting efficiency (47-13-95).

“I think one of the best things was we played some new people – we played Karsta Lowe and Molly Kreklow,” Kiraly said. “That was really their first start against top level international opponents, world No. 3 China.”

Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) turned in five points for Team USA, while Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) chipped in four points, including three aces. Megan Easy (Durham, N.C.), who made her first appearance with the National Team since 2013 following getting married and having her first child, tallied three points in a reserve role. Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb.) added three points. Kreklow rounded out the scoring with a block.

“Our speed behind Karsta and Kelly Murphy are a strength of ours,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “We want to play USA fast. That is one of our five “F”s. We want to stress people back there and on the other sideline.”

Team USA held a 9-4 advantage in aces, but the Americans served kept China from getting into a rhythm from the outset.

“Our serving was quite good. We picked the right spots. Our speed was good, and our serving got them into some serious trouble. That is a tribute to our servers. It is something that we stress as something really important. That is the first part of any good defense – an assertive serve to the right space to the right passer.”

After the match, Lowe felt her international debut could not have been any better.

“It is an unreal experience,” Lowe said. “I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when I walked out here. I was like ‘Oh my gosh. I am wearing a USA jersey playing next to girls who were Olympians. I don’t belong here.’ It was awesome. I can’t put words to it.”

China was led by Changning Zhang’s 12 points, while Ni Yan added eight points. As a team, China was limited to a 43 kill percent with a .299 hitting efficiency (33-10-77).

“China was playing some different lineups,” Kiraly said. “That was probably not their strongest lineup. The thing I liked was they fought hard until the end, challenged us which was good. We had to respond. We kind of eased off the gas pedal late there, and not what we would choose but it is good. We faced some fight by China and gave us a chance to respond.”

China Head Coach Lang Ping felt her team’s inability to receive USA’s serve thwarted the Chinese offense from the start.

“We couldn’t pass,” China Head Coach Lang Ping said. “Obviously if you don’t pass, it is hard to play against USA. They play the same and very fast. Hopefully we can catch their speed better tomorrow. We are also learning, having a lot of young players. We don’t really know what is happening on the court. We need to concentrate on our side of the court and pass better.”

China held an 8-5 block margin using their advantage. Team USA managed a 23-18 edge in digs with Hill notching a team-best seven digs. Larson-Burbach added five digs to go with a team-leading 22 receptions that netted a 50 positive reception percent. Hill was 52 percent positive on 21 receptions. Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) handled 13 receptions with a team-best 62 percent positive rating.

USA hosts China in the second match of the USA Volleyball Cup on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu before the series shifts to California for matches on June 9 at UC Irvine and June 12 at Cal State San Bernardino.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster of USA Volleyball Cup Matches on June 5-6
# - Name (Position, Ht, Hometown, College)
2 – Kayla Banwarth (L, 5-10, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
3 – Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, Kent, Wash., University of Washington)
5 – Tama Miyashiro (L, 5-7, Kaneohe, Hawaii, University of Washington)
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 Hodge Easy (OH, 6-3, Durham, N.C., Penn State University)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Wilmington, Ill., University of Florida)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Portland, Ore., Pepperdine University)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (MB, 6-3, Plantation, Fla., Stanford University)
18 – Molly Kreklow (S, 6-0, Delano, Minn., University of Missouri)
20 – Cursty Jackson (MB, 6-2, Los Angeles, Calif., University of Arizona)
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
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek

# - Last Name First Name (Position, Ht, World Championship Matches, Olympic Games Matches)

1 – Yuan Xinyue (MB, 199cm, 13, 0)
2 – Zhu Ting (OH, 195cm, 13, 0)
3 – Yang Fangxu (OPP, 190cm, 13, 0)
5 – Shen Jingsi (S, 186cm, 20, 0)
6 - Yang Junjing (MB, 190cm, 13, 5)
8 – Zeng Chunlei (OPP, 187cm, 13, 5)
9 – Zhang Changning (OH, 193cm, 0, 0)
10 – Shan Danna (OH, 168cm, 13, 5)
11 – Zhang Xiaoya (MB, 189cm, 0, 0)
12 - Ruoqi Hui (OH, 192cm, 13, 0)
15 – Lin Li (L, 171cm, 0, 0)
16 – Ding Xia (S, 180cm, 0, 0)
17 – Yan Ni (MB, 192cm, 0, 0)
19 – Liu Yanhan (OH, 188cm, 0, 0)

Head Coach: Lang Ping
Assistant Coaches: An Jiajie, Lai Yawen, Bao Zhuang, Wu Xiaolei
Physiotherapist: Hsu Brittni
Doctor: Wang Kai
Team Manager: Lai Yawen