U.S. Women Fall to Brazil in Grand Prix Title Match

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | July 10, 2016, 9:34 a.m. (ET)

BANGKOK, Thailand (July 10, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team lost to Brazil 18-25, 25-17, 25-23, 22-25, 15-9 in a thrilling gold-medal match Sunday to cap the 24th Annual FIVB World Grand Prix being staged in Bangkok, Thailand. Team USA is ranked No. 1 in the world, while 2016 Olympic Games host Brazil is ranked No. 3. Both teams are among the favorites to win gold next month at the Rio Olympics.

Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida) led the Americans with 19 points vis 16 kills on 24 attacks, two blocks and an ace. Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon), who was named the second best outside hitter of the tournament, chipped in 17 points with 14 kills on 46 swings and three aces. Middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio), selected as the best middle blocker of the tournament, picked up 11 kills on 20 attacks, three blocks and an ace for 15 points.

"Congratuations to Brazil - they played a really nice match," U.S. Women's National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. "We learned some really valuable lessons - this was really good for us to face a strong opponent like that. We look forward to training and moving onto the tournament in Rio."

Team USA was aiming for its seventh World Grand Prix title and fifth in the last seven years after having won the event in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015. With the victory, Brazil now holds 11 of the 24 World Grand Prix titles. The teams have held dominance over the World Grand Prix as either the Americans or Brazilians have won the tournament 17 of the 24 editions and every year since 2008.

Related: Unofficial DataVolley Stats | Official FIVB Stats

USA and Brazil have met in the gold-medal match of the two most recent Olympic Games in Beijing and London with the South Americans winning both times. However, Team USA has won the last two matches in major competition heading into the 2016 World Grand Prix championship match. The Americans swept Brazil in the 2014 FIVB World Championship semifinal in Italy, as well as during the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix Finals that clinched the title.

"Every time we face Brazil, it is always a really great battle," U.S. Women's National Team captain Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania). "I thought tonight we came up short, but I thought we learned a lot from the match. Brazil's middles got going early in the match, but I thought we made the necessary adjustments on defense. We are excited to take this lesson back, and learn and prepare these next few weeks before Rio. Congratulations to Brazil."

The World Grand Prix championship match can be viewed on-demand on NBC Sports Live Extra (nbcsports.com/live) or tape delayed on cable channel Universal HD on Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.

Related: U.S. Women's National Team Home Page | FIVB World Grand Prix Page

Holding a 16-14 lead in the opening set, the U.S. caught fire out-scoring Brazil 9-4 down the stretch as Hill scored five points and both middles of Adams and Akinradewo scored four. Brazil evened the match at one set each after winning set 2 25-17 by winning 11 of the final 15 points. Brazil built a 17-12 lead in the third set, but had to fend off a late American challenge before winning 25-23. The fourth set had 16 ties and seven lead changes, but the USA was on the good side of the last change as it used a 4-0 run to establish a 23-20 lead en route to winning 25-22. Brazil never trailed in the fifth set and used a 6-1 run taking a 12-6 advantage and finished with a 15-9 victory.

"There are no big margins when you really get down to a battle like that," Kiraly said. "We have some areas where we can improve for sure - some weaknesses of ours that were exposed by Brazil, some weaknesses of theirs that we exposed."

Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) totaled nine kills on 27 attacks in the loss, while opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) added seven kills on 22 attacks. Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) tallied two kills and setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Michigan) rounded out the scoring with one block.

Libero Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) tallied 10 digs and had 15 excellent receptions on 22 chances. Larson totaled 18 excellent receptions on 36 chances.

Team USA converted 39.9 percent of its attacks into points with a .297 hitting efficiency (59-15-148) as Glass was credited with 52 running sets on 107 total chances. Brazil converted 45.8 percent of its attacks into points with a .373 hitting efficiency (70-13-153).

Brazil held a 70-59 advantage in kills and a slim 7-6 margin in blocks. Both teams served five aces in the match. Brazil’s defense netted a 45-28 advantage in digs as it kept the ball in motion in transition.

The U.S. had won 24 of its last 26 World Grand Prix matches with both losses at the hands of China in pool play in 2015 and 2016. The Americans also had its nine-match World Grand Prix win streak snapped.

Earlier in the day, Netherlands rallied to beat Russia 18-25, 23-25, 30-28, 25-21, 15-9 in the bronze-medal match and China defeated Thailand 25-23, 25-23, 25-12 for fifth place.

The World Grand Prix serves as the last major event for teams qualified to the 2016 Olympic Games to fine tune their systems. All but Thailand competing in the World Grand Prix Finals have qualified for the Olympic Games next month.

Brazil gained the first two-point cushion at 4-2, but Glass put up a block and Brazil hit wide on consecutive plays to put the Americans up 5-4. Adams served an ace between a Hill kill and Brazil attack error to extend the American lead to 10-7 prompting the Brazilians to call timeout. The U.S. won a video challenge to put them up 12-8 after kills from Murphy and Hill. Team USA went up 14-9 with a Hill ace after an Akinradewo kill. Brazil scored three unanswered points out of the second technical timeout to cut the deficit to 16-14. Adams stopped the run with a kill and Hill followed with back-to-back kills to force Brazil to call timeout down 19-14. Team USA scored a fourth straight point on a Brazil error at 20-14. Brazil answered with a kill and block to chip away to 20-16. Murphy hammered a kill after a Brazil service error to inch the American lead to 22-16. Akinradewo scored the final two points for a 25-18 victory.

Team USA grabbed a 3-1 lead in the second set as Akinradewo picked up a kill and block after a Brazil error. Brazil tied the set at 4-all after a USA rotation error. Hill blocked Brazil after Larson’s first point of the match to give the Americans a 7-5 advantage. Brazil quickly tied the set at 7-all with an ace and went into the first technical timeout up 8-7 with a third straight point. Brazil served its second ace of the second set to build an 11-9 lead. Brazil reached the second technical timeout with a three-point edge at 16-13 and extended its lead to 17-13 with a fourth straight point. Team USA called timeout trailing 20-15 after back-to-back Brazil points. Brazil scored the final three points on USA errors for a 25-17 victory.

The U.S. took a 6-4 lead in the third set with a Murphy kill after a Brazil error. However, Brazil responded with four unanswered points to take an 8-6 lead into the first technical timeout. Team USA came back to tie the set at 9-9 with kills from Akinradewo and Hill. Brazil worked its way to a 15-11 lead with three unanswered points. Brazil’s advantage reached five at 17-12. Akinradewo scored consecutive kills to cut the deficit to 20-17. Glass put up a block after a Brazil service error to slice the gap to two, 21-19. Consecutive Brazil errors put the Team USA within one at 23-22. USA saved one set point, but Brazil won a video challenge that would have tied the set at 24-all but went to Brazil at 25-23.

The lead changed hands four times early in the fourth set before Team USA went up 10-8 with two Hill kills around a Brazil error. The Americans increased their lead to 12-9 with back-to-back Brazil errors, but the South Americans responded with three straight points to square the set at 12-all. Brazil gained the lead back at 14-13 on a USA rotation error then upped its lead to 15-13. Team USA answered with an Adams kill and Brazil attack error to level the score at 15-all. The Americans went back into the lead at 17-16 with a Larson kill and Hill block. The lead switched back to Brazil at 19-18 after an errant USA attack. The U.S. reversed the score to its side at 22-20 with consecutive Hill kills after an Akinradewo kill prompting a Brazil timeout. Out of the break, Larson tipped over the block yielding a 23-20 American lead. Akinradewo pounded a kill to give Team USA set points at 24-21 and Adams ended it with a quick middle kill at 25-22.

Brazil gained an early 3-1 lead in the final set and increased its advantage to 8-5 at the court side switch. Brazil served an ace and put up a block after a USA timeout to go up 10-5. Brazil doubled up its lead to 12-6 as part of a 6-1 run. Brazil finished out the match with at 15-9 victory.

2016 FIVB World Grand Prix Finals Round Roster
# - Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1 – Alisha Glass (S, 6-0, Leland, Michigan, Penn State University)
2 – Kayla Banwarth (L, 5-10, Dubuque, Iowa, University of Nebraska)
3 – Courtney Thompson (S, 5-8, Kent, Washington, University of Washington)
5 – Rachael Adams (M, 6-2, Cincinnati, Ohio, University of Texas)
6 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, Bonsall, California, University of California-Berkeley)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Nebraska, University of Nebraska)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Wilmington, Illinois, University of Florida)
13 – Christa Dietzen (M, 6-2, Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania, Penn State University)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Portland, Oregon, Pepperdine University)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (M, 6-3, Plantation, Florida, Stanford University)
17 – Natalie Hagglund (L, 5-9, Encinitas, California, University of Southern California)
19 – Michelle Bartsch (OH, 6-3, Maryville, Illinois, University of Illinois)
23 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Bartlett, Illinois, University of Nebraska)
25 – Karsta Lowe (OPP, 6-4, Rancho Santa Fe, California, UCLA)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Jamie Morrison, Tom Black
Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey
Consultant Coach: David Hunt
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek
Strength Coach: James Stitz
Doctor: Lori Boyijian
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz

FIVB World Grand Prix Finals: July 6-10 at Bangkok, Thailand (all times Eastern)
July 6: USA def. Netherlands 25-21, 25-17, 25-23 (Watch Replay)
July 6: Brazil def. Thailand 26-24, 25-16, 25-11
July 7: Netherlands def. China 23-25, 25-14, 19-25, 25-20, 15-8
July 7: Brazil def. Russia 25-22, 25-10, 25-21
July 8: USA def. China 25-21, 26-24, 25-22 (Watch Replay)
July 8: Russia def. Thailand 27-25, 26-24, 25-19
July 9: Brazil def. Netherlands 25-18, 25-16, 25-23
July 9: USA def. Russia 25-20, 25-23, 25-14 (Watch Replay)
July 10: China def. Thailand 25-23, 25-23, 25-12 (5th-place match)
July 10: Netherlands def. Russia 18-25, 23-25, 30-28, 25-21, 15-9 (Bronze-Medal Match)
July 10: Brazil def. USA 18-25, 25-17, 25-23, 22-25, 15-9 (Gold-Medal Match) (Watch)

2016 FIVB World Grand Prix Preliminary Round Weekends

Final Group 1 Preliminary Round Standings

All matches are live streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra

Pool A: June 10-12 at Ningbo, China 
June 10: USA def. Germany, 25-15, 25-17, 25-12 (Watch Replay)
June 10: China def. Thailand 25-14, 25-14, 25-11
June 11: USA def. Thailand 25-21, 29-27, 25-23 (Watch Replay)
June 11: China def. Germany 25-12, 25-22, 25-16
June 12: Thailand def. Germany 16-25, 28-26, 25-22, 25-16
June 12: June 12: China def. USA 25-20, 25-19, 15-25, 25-23 (Watch Replay)

Pool B: June 9-12 at Rio de Janeiro
June 9: Brazil def. Italy 23-25, 25-15, 25-15, 27-25
June 9: Japan def. Serbia 31-29, 25-18, 28-26
June 10: Brazil def. Japan 25-20, 25-23, 25-15
June 10: Italy def. Serbia 25-16, 25-19, 29-31, 25-17
June 12: Brazil def. Serbia 25-20, 25-18, 25-18
June 12: Italy def. Japan 25-20, 25-20, 23-25, 25-27, 15-8

Pool C: June 10-12 at Kaliningrad, Russia
June 10: Turkey def. Belgium 25-22, 25-23, 26-24
June 10: Russia def. Netherlands 25-22, 20-25, 25-20, 25-16
June 11: Netherlands def. Turkey 27-25, 25-21, 25-22
June 11: Russia def. Belgium 25-20, 25-15, 25-16
June 12: Netherlands def. Belgium 25-20, 25-21, 18-25, 25-20
June 12: Russia def. Turkey 26-24, 20-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-10

Pool D: June 17-19 at Macau, China
June 17: Serbia def. Brazil 16-25, 29-31, 25-19, 25-19, 18-16
June 17: China def. Belgium 25-19, 25-17, 25-22
June 18: Brazil def. Belgium 23-25, 25-19, 25-15, 25-18
June 18: China def. Serbia 27-25, 17-25, 20-25, 25-22, 15-9
June 19: Serbia def. Belgium 24-26, 26-24, 25-23, 23-25, 15-10
June 19: China def. Brazil 25-23, 25-16, 25-20

Pool E: June 17-19 at Long Beach, California
June 17: Turkey def. Japan 21-25, 25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 15-13
June 17: USA def. Germany 25-17, 24-26, 25-10, 25-23 (Watch Replay)
June 18: Turkey def. Germany 25-18, 16-25, 25-19, 25-19
June 18: USA def. Japan 25-16, 25-23, 25-21 (Watch Replay)
June 19: Japan def. Germany 25-27, 26-24, 25-15, 25-18
June 19: USA def. Turkey 25-21, 25-20, 25-16 (Watch Replay)

Pool F: June 17-19 at Bari, Italy (all times local)
June 17: Russia def. Netherlands 25-17, 25-23, 28-26
June 17: Thailand def. Italy 25-20, 23-25, 25-23, 19-25, 15-11
June 18: Russia def. Thailand 25-22, 25-22, 25-13
June 18: Netherlands def. Italy 19-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-22
June 19: Netherlands def. Thailand 25-19, 25-16, 25-21
June 19: Russia def. Italy 19-25, 25-15, 25-22, 22-25, 15-10

Pool G: June 24-26 at Ankara, Turkey
June 24: Brazil def. Italy 24-26, 25-22, 25-13, 25-22
June 24: Belgium def. Turkey 25-18, 25-14, 19-25, 25-21
June 25: Italy def. Turkey 21-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-17
June 25: Brazil def. Belgium 13-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-18
June 26: Italy def. Belgium 25-14, 25-12, 25-21
June 26: Brazil def. Turkey 25-14, 25-21, 25-19

Pool H: June 24-26 at Hong Kong
June 24: USA def. Germany 25-19, 25-22, 30-28 (Watch Replay)
June 24: China def. Netherlands 25-22, 25-23, 25-21
June 25: USA def. Netherlands 25-17, 19-25, 25-17, 25-20 (Watch Replay)
June 25: China def. Germany 25-13, 25-16, 25-22
June 26: Netherlands def. Germany 26-24, 25-20, 25-22
June 26: USA def. China 25-19, 25-21, 25-17 (Watch Replay)

Pool I: June 24-26 at Kyoto, Japan (all times local)
June 24: Serbia def. Russia 23-25, 25-27, 25-21, 25-20, 15-12
June 24: Japan def. Thailand 25-20, 25-19, 25-15
June 25: Russia def. Thailand 25-16, 25-22, 22-25, 25-12
June 25: Serbia def. Japan 25-23, 20-25, 17-25, 27-25, 15-8
June 26: Serbia def. Thailand 25-18, 25-20, 25-20
June 26: Russia def. Japan 20-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-20