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U.S. Women Rock the Pyramid in Sweep of Japan

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | June 18, 2016, 11:43 p.m. (ET)

LONG BEACH, California (June 18, 2016) – Top-ranked U.S. Women’s National Team, playing in front of a sell-out crowd in Long Beach, California, notched a 25-16, 25-23, 25-21 victory over No. 5 Japan on Saturday evening in Long Beach, California, in a battle of Olympic-qualified teams. The USA trains in nearby Anaheim, located just 30 minutes away from Long Beach.

Team USA, now 4-1 overall with 12 points and in fourth place in the World Grand Prix standings, concludes the Pool E weekend by playing No. 10 Turkey on Sunday at 5 p.m. PT.

Related: Unofficial DataVolley Stats | Official FIVB Stats

“We love playing Japan,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “They are one of the legendary programs in all of international volleyball, especially on the women’s side. They fight with such heart and never give up. We know we have to work really hard to earn every point, and that is good for us to work our tails off in the long rallies.”

The USA had balanced scoring with Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida) soring a team-best 14 points with 12 kills on 17 attacks, one ace and one block. Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) added 13 points on 11 kills via 23 swings and two blocks. Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) tallied 11 points with 10 kills on 21 attacks and a block. Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) contributed 10 points on six kills via 14 swings, two blocks and two aces.

“I think we made conscious decisions tonight to get a couple strong goals, and we did a really job of sticking to those and accomplishing them.” Hill said. “It is always fun to play this Japan team that plays great defense. We are focusing on our side of the net a lot, so that is what we are trying to get better at. Each team has little quirks and different nuances, and that helps us prepare for a little of everything.”

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

Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) charted nine points with eight kills on 15 swings and a block. Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) totaled five points as the opposite in the double-sub all three sets. Alisha Glass (Leland, Michigan) rounded out the scoring with one block and one ace.

Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) totaled 11 digs and 11 excellent receptions 12 chances. Lowe provide 10 digs, while Hill was credited with 10 excellent receptions on 17 chances to go with seven digs. Larson had a team-high 21 excellent receptions on 26 attempts and five digs.

The Americans converted 51 kill percent of their attacks as part of a .430 hitting efficiency (51-8-100) as Glass had 28 running sets on 67 set attempts. Team USA maintained a 9-2 block advantage. Both teams had four aces. The U.S. defense limited Japan to a 32.4 kill percent and .185 hitting efficiency.

“There were so many times that our pins were one-on-one, our middles were one-on-one,” U.S. captain Christa Dietzen said. “So Alisha Glass did a great job of distributing the ball evenly. I thought our defense gave us a lot of opportunities to score in transition.”

The U.S. drew energy from the 5,000 fans who packed the Walter Pyramid.

“The crowd was phenomenal thanks to a lot of people, especially Matt Garthoff and the VOL-B-QUE crew,” Kiraly said. “Our players got a chance to say hello to them at the huge volleyball tailgate party. I got a chance to say hello to them, and it was such a great day for volleyball.”

The USA has won 21 of its 27 World Grand Prix matches with Japan including the last 11 meetings. The Asian side has not won a World Grand Prix meeting since 2005.

The USA took a 5-2 lead in the opening set following a Lowe attack and that ignited the American offense. Hill gave Team USA an 8-4 lead at the first technical timeout and the lead quickly jumped to 12-4 with Adams scoring two aces and Akinradewo pounding an authoritative attack around a Hill kill. The USA lead reached double digits at 14-4. After trailing 18-9, Sakoda served consecutive aces to help Japan cut the deficit to 18-12. The USA reached set point 24-16 with an Akinradewo overpass kill and Hill won the set with a kill off a successful challenge at 25-16. The middles of Adams and Akinradewo scored six points each in the set as the Americans converted 19 of 32 attacks for points.

Japan gained a 4-1 lead early in the second set capped by a Ishii ace. Glass served an ace between two Larson kills, the first being a successful USA video challenge, to give the Americans a 6-5 lead. Japan went back into the lead with an Ishii kill at 8-7. Hill answered with a kill and block to reverse the lead to the USA at 9-8. Japan reached the second technical timeout with a 16-15 lead following a USA error. Trailing 19-17, the USA came back to tie the set 19-all on a Larson kill. The teams traded points until Lowe and Hill were able to put away consecutive winners to give the Americans set point at 24-23. Akinradewo ended the set with a power slam on the slide that hit within the three-meter zone that ignited a thunderous applause from the crowd.

Ishii scored a kill to put Japan in a third set tie at 5-all after trailing 5-3. Akinradewo and Larson scored back-to-back kills to give the Americans a two-point cushion at 11-9. Team USA upped the lead to 17-12 with a Hill block as part of a 5-2 American run. Nabeya served an ace and the USA hit wide twice to cut the American lead to 17-16. Akinradewo took a quick set for a kill providing the Americans a two-point edge at 19-17. Japan answered with consecutive points to tie the set at 19-all, but Hill and Murphy responded with back-to-back kills to give the Americans a 21-19 lead. Japan leveled the score again at 21-all. Adams ended a long rally at 23-21 with an Adams block. Larson slammed a kill off the block to give the Americans match point at 24-21 and Murphy ended the set promptly with a cross-court winner at 25-21.

2016 FIVB World Grand Prix Weekend 2 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)
14 – Nicole Fawcett (OPP, 6-4, Zanesfield, Ohio, 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)
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: Chris Koutures
Team Manager: Denise Sheldon

2016 FIVB World Grand Prix Preliminary Round Weekends

Latest Group 1 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 (all times local)
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 (all times local)
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 (all times local)
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 (Pacific Time/Eastern Time)
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
June 19: Japan vs. Germany, 3:10 p.m. PT/5:10 p.m.
June 19: USA vs. Turkey, 5:10 p.m. PT/7:10 p.m. ET (TV: NBC Sports at 11 p.m. ET, Live Stream)

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 vs. Italy, 8:30 p.m.
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 (all times local)
June 24: Turkey vs. Belgium, 5 p.m.
June 24: Italy vs. Brazil, 8 p.m.
June 25: Turkey vs. Italy, 5 p.m.
June 25: Brazil vs. Belgium, 8 p.m.
June 26: Italy vs. Belgium, 5 p.m.
June 26: Turkey vs. Brazil, 8 p.m.

Pool H: June 24-26 at Hong Kong (all times local/Eastern Time)
June 24: USA vs. Germany, 6:30 p.m. local/6:30 a.m. ET (TV: UniHD at 7 p.m. ET, Live Stream)
June 24: China vs. Netherlands, 8:30 p.m.
June 25: USA vs. Netherlands, 1:15 p.m. local/1:15 a.m. ET (TV: UniHD at 7 p.m. ET, Live Stream)
June 25: China vs. Germany, 3:45 p.m.
June 26: Netherlands vs. Germany, 1:15 p.m.
June 26: USA vs. China, 3:45 p.m. local/3:45 a.m. ET (TV: UniHD at 5 p.m. ET, Live Stream)

Pool I: June 24-26 at Kyoto, Japan (all times local)
June 24: Serbia vs. Russia, 4:10 p.m.
June 24: Japan vs. Thailand, 7:10 p.m.
June 25: Thailand vs. Russia, 4:10 p.m.
June 25: Japan vs. Serbia, 7:10 p.m.
June 26: Serbia vs. Thailand, 4:10 p.m.
June 26: Japan vs. Russia, 7:10 p.m.

FIVB World Grand Prix Finals: July 6-10 at Bangkok, Thailand
Top 5 Ranked Teams in Preliminary Round + Host Thailand