China Wins 5 Set Thriller over U.S. Women

By Bill Kauffman | June 09, 2015, 11:53 p.m. (ET)

IRVINE, Calif. (June 9, 2015) – Unlike the first two matches of the USA Volleyball Cup where the U.S. Women’s National Team and China split rather easy 3-0 victories in Honolulu on June 5-6, Tuesday’s match at UC Irvine thrilled the crowd to the final point as China saved two match points to win 27-29, 25-21, 19-25, 25-19, 17-15.

The four-match USA Volleyball Cup series concludes on June 12 at Coussoulis Arena on the campus of California State University San Bernardino. Tickets for the match can be purchased at usavolleyballcup.com. Team USA won the opening match 3-0 on June 5, while China reversed the score on June 6 in Honolulu. Video for the first three matches plus the live stream on June 12 can be found on the same page.

Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) led the U.S. with 19 points in just her third international match. She tallied 16 kills on 28 attacks and three aces. Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) chipped in 17 points via 15 kills on 26 attacks and two aces. Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Ill.), starting her first match of the USA Volleyball Cup, contributed 12 kills, four aces and a block for 17 points.

RELATED: DataVolley Stats | USA Volleyball Cup Page | USAV Cup Match 1 | USAV Cup Match 2

"Lots of bright spots, but not consistently enough," U.S. Women's National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. "Karsta had a nice bounce back match. It was good to see our middle combo that we played with at World Championship playing together – Christa Dietzen, her first match back since the World Championship final. She has been resting and lifting hard and getting the most fit she has ever been."

Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.) tacked on 14 points with nine kills, three aces and two blocks. Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pa.), playing her first match since the 2014 FIVB World Championship in which Team USA defeated China 3-1 in the gold-medal match, tallied 14 with 11 kills, two blocks and an ace. Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) recorded five points as a reserve, while Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) rounded out the scoring with an ace.

"We were playing against a great team," U.S. Women's National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. "It is no accident that that team played in the finals of the 2014 World Championship. It was indicative down the stretch we had a swing for the match. They came back and nobody went for the ball. Then we hit a ball out, then had to tip a ball because the set was poor. You can’t make strings of poor plays against one of the great, great teams in the world and expect to come out on top."

China’s Ting Zhu led all scorers with 27 points, including 24 kills on 53 attacks, two blocks and an ace. Chuniel Zeng and Changning Zhang totaled 14 points each in the victory.

U.S. libero Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) tallied 10 of USA's 45 digs and added 35 of the team's 104 receptions with a 60 positive reception percent. Robinson and Hill each had 34 receptions with Robinson holding a 59 positive reception percent.

China out-blocked Team USA 17-7 and converted 46 percent of its attacks. The Americans converted 42 percent of their attacks with Kreklow taking most of the sets. The U.S. out-served China 12-6 in aces.

"This is our third different starting lineup in three matches and we will have a fourth on Friday (in San Bernardino)," Kiraly said "It is part of learning about our team and about each other and figuring things out with the long term goal being as good as we can be at the FIVB World Cup in August, which is the first Olympic qualifier."

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster of USA Volleyball Cup Matches for June 9
# - Name (Position, Ht, Hometown, College)
2 – Kayla Banwarth (L, 5-10, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
5 – Tama Miyashiro (L, 5-7, Kaneohe, Hawaii, University of Washington)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (MB, 6-2, St. Paul, Minn., University of Minnesota)
11 – Megan Hodge Easy (OH, 6-3, Durham, N.C., Penn State University)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Wilmington, Ill., University of Florida)
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)
19 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Bartlett, Ill., University of Nebraska)
21 – Tori Dixon (MB, 6-3, Burnsville, Minn., University of Minnesota)
23 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, Bonsall, Calif., University of California-Berkeley)
25 – Karsta Lowe (OPP, 6-4, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., UCLA)
31 – Molly Kreklow (S, 6-0, Delano, Minn., University of Missouri)

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