U.S. Women Edge Japan 3-2 in Grand Champions Cup

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Sept. 09, 2017, 10:22 a.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 9, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s National Team, ranked No. 2 in the world, rallied to defeat host Japan 22-25, 25-21, 26-28, 25-21, 15-12 on Saturday on the second to last day of the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in Nagoya, Japan.

The WGCC is a six-team, round robin event held in the first year of each Olympic quadrennial. Team USA, now 3-1 with seven standings points, concludes the tournament against No. 4 Brazil on Sunday (1:40 a.m. ET). Japan (2-2, 6 points) ends the tournament against China (4-0, 11 points), which through the results of today, has already won the Grand Champions Cup gold medal. A USA win versus Brazil on Sunday earns the Americans the silver medal, but a loss could potentially drop them completely off the podium depending on the outcome the China-Japan match.

Related: Official Match Stats | Watch Replay | U.S. Women's National Team Home Page

Earlier today tournament leader China (4-0, 11 points) swept Russia (1-3, 4 points) 25-20, 25-18, 25-20 to secure at least a medal heading into the final day of the competition on Sunday. With the USA-Japan match extending to a fifth set, China guaranteed itself of the gold medal regardless of Sunday’s outcomes based on standings points. Brazil (2-2, 8 points) blanked Korea (0-4, 0 points) 25-15, 25-10, 25-23 to remain in contention for a medal though they are now locked out gold with China’s win.

Standings:
1. China 4-0 (11 pts)
2. USA 3-1 (7 pts)
3. Brazil 2-2 (8 pts)
4. Japan 2-2 (6 pts)
5. Russia 1-3 (4 pts)
6. Korea 0-4 (0 pts)

Television: Every match of the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup will be televised lived in the United States on The Olympic Channel, along with multiple replays of the matches.

Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) led the Americans with 22 points via 19 kills on 41 swings and three blocks. Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) tallied 18 points with 15 kills on 50 attacks and three blocks. Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) contributed 17 points in the victory with 15 kills on 51 swings and two blocks.

Japan built a 10-3 lead early in the opening set, and although the U.S. closed to within one at 15-14, the hosts held off the Americans for the 25-22 victory. After Japan closed to 17-16 in the second set, Team USA held off the charge by scoring eight of the last 13 points for a 25-21 victory. The U.S. overcame an early 11-7 deficit in the third set and took a 15-14 lead, but the rest of the set saw the lead change several times before Japan won 28-26 after saving two set points. The U.S. used a 10-2 run including seven straight points in to overcome a 6-3 deficit in the fourth set and won 25-21 after Japan saved three set points. Although Japan scored the first two points of the tiebreaking set, the Americans charged in front at 3-2 and never trailed the rest of the way in winning 15-12.

 

“We love playing Japan in Japan. It is a tremendous volleyball atmosphere – very few things are like that on the planet,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “It is always an honor to play a match like this against a team with an incredible fighting spirit. And we are also very proud of our fighting spirit and patience. We knew it was going to take a lot of hard work and smart play to beat a very good team. We came out on top by a little.”

 

Middles Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota) and Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) each sported 14 points in the match. Dixon had 10 kills on 21 swings and four blocks, while Gibbemeyer pocketed 12 kills on 24 swings, one block and one ace. Setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) added seven points with a team-best four blocks, two kills and an ace. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Maryville, Illinois), a serving sub in all five sets, rounded out the scoring with an ace.

 

“Japan is an amazing team and they played a great match," Lloyd said. "I am really proud of our patience today. It took a lot of patience, a lot of long rallies and a lot problem solving to win this one. We are happy with it. We will look forward to a next big battle tomorrow.”

 

Larson totaled a team-best 19 digs and Hill added 14 digs. Libero Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) added eight digs and 14 excellent receptions on 23 chances, while libero Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California) charted seven digs. Larson was credited with 23 excellent receptions on 48 chances, while Hill had 14 excellent receptions on 32 errorless chances.

Lloyd, who had 13 digs, was credited with 60 running sets on 160 total set attempts in leading the U.S. to a 37.8 kill percent and .301 hitting efficiency (73-15-193). The Americans limited the Japanese to a 32.8 kill percent and .172 hitting efficiency (63-30-192).

The U.S. held a 17-11 block margin with its height advantage, while Japan’s serve netted a 5-3 ace edge. The Americans managed a 73-63 kill advantage.

Lloyd, who is the U.S. captain, complimented the Japanese squad and their fans who make playing in Japan so special.

“I just think it is a wonderful experience to be in a gym where there is such positive energy,” Lloyd said. “You can just tell all the fans love volleyball. I felt really, really grateful to be there because it doesn’t happen all the time. The spirit of Japan – they don’t give up. They are such a great volleyball team. They have a long tradition of volleyball. To be a part of that in this gym, was really, really special for us.”

Mami Uchiseto led Japan with 17 points and Yurie Nabeya added 15 points coming off the bench.

The U.S. started Hill and Larson at outside hitter, Dixon and Gibbemeyer at middle, Drews at opposite and Lloyd at setter. Courtney was the starting libero mainly handling passing duties and shared the spot with Wong-Orantes who was in for defense.

Japan started the opening set with a 6-1 advantage. Japan extended its margin to 10-3 with three unanswered points. Lloyd put up a block and Drews hit cross-court to narrow the gap to 11-6. Team USA sliced the gap to 12-8 with a Larson kill and Japanese attack error. The Americans continued the charged back at 13-11 as Hill pounded a kill followed by a Drews kill and Gibbemeyer ace heading into a Japan timeout. The U.S. Americans closed to within one at 15-14 with back-to-back kills from Hill and Drews. Japan extended the advantage to four points at 19-15 on a 4-1 run, then raised the margin to 22-17. Team USA sliced the deficit to 23-20 with a Dixon block and Larson kill. The U.S. saved two set points with a Dixon kill and Japan error at 24-22, but the host nation won the set at 25-22.

Larson scored consecutive kills after a Japan error to give the Americans a 6-4 lead in the second set. However, Japan scored two points out of the technical timeout to tie the set at 8-all. Team USA tallied three consecutive points with a Gibbemeyer kill and two Japan errors to go up 11-8. Japan answered with back-to-back points to close to within one at 11-10. The Americans regained a three-point cushion at 15-12 as Hill and Larson pounded kills to the floor. Japan closed to within one at 17-16. The U.S. regained a three-point cushion at 20-17 with a Gibbemeyer block and Japan error. The U.S. extended its lead to 22-18 with kills from Drews and Hill. Japan answered with back-to-back points to cut the gap in half at 22-20. The U.S. reached set points at 24-20 after Hill slammed a winner followed by a Lloyd block. Larson blocked the set winner at 25-21.

Japan scored the first three points of the third set, but the U.S. chipped two off the deficit with a Gibbemeyer kill and Japan error at 3-2. Japan increased its advantage to 11-7 on a 4-1 run. A Larson kill, Lloyd block and Gibbemeyer kill cut the American deficit to 14-13 heading into a Japan timeout. Out of the break, the U.S. scored a fourth and fifth straight points on back-to-back Japan errors to take a 15-14 lead. Japan answered with consecutive points to go into the second technical timeout up 16-15, then extended its margin to 18-16. Team USA responded with three quick points with two kills from hill around a Gibbemeyer kill to take a 19-18 advantage. Japan regained the lead at 22-21 prompting USA to call a timeout. Larson and Hill slammed kills to reverse the lead to the Americans at 23-22 leading to a Japan timeout. Japan reversed the lead again and took set point at 24-23. The Americans saved the set point with a Japan service error and earned its first set point at 25-24 with a Lloyd block. Japan saved two set points and picked up its second set point in reversing the score to 27-26. Japan won the set at 28-26 on its second set point chance.

Japan gained a three-point cushion at 6-3 in the fourth set. The U.S. cut the gap to 6-5 with a Dixon kill and Japan error. Team USA used a 7-0 run to take the lead at 13-8 with a Gibbemeyer kill, Lloyd ace, two Japan attack errors, a Drews kill and two Gibbemeyer blocks. Japan sliced the gap to 15-11 with consecutive points. Drews and Hill connected for consecutive kills to extend the American lead to 17-11. Lloyd put up a block after a Japan attack error to extend the American lead to 20-13. Japan answered with back-to-back points on USA errors to close to 20-15. Larson blocked Japan and Bartsch-Hackley came off the bench to serve an ace to give the Americans a 22-15 lead. Japan served an ace to cut the deficit to 23-18. Japan saved three set points before the U.S. won the set 25-21 on a Gibbemeyer kill.

Japan took a 2-0 lead early in the fifth set, but the Americans responded with three straight kills from Drews and Hill around a Japanese error to give the U.S. a 3-2 lead. Dixon and Larson downed kills to extend the American lead to 6-4. A Gibbemeyer kill and block extended the U.S. lead to 10-7. Japan chipped to within one at 10-9 with back-to-back points. Drews and Lloyd score back-to-back kills to put the U.S. in front 13-10. Hill gave the U.S. match point at 14-11 with a kill, then the Americans won 15-12 on a Larson kill.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB World Grand Champions Cup
# - Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
3 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, California, Bonsall, California)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
5 – Rachael Adams (M, 6-2, Texas, Cincinnati, Ohio)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (M, 6-2, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota)
9 – Madi Kingdon (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Maryville, Illinois)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Portland, Oregon)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (M, 6-3, Stanford, Plantation, Florida)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
29 – Aiyana Whitney (OPP, 6-5, Penn State, Norwood, New Jersey)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Tama Miyashiro, Marv Dunphy
Consultant Coaches: Sander Cohen, John Crawley
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Hicks
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Doctor: Dr. Andrew Gregory
Dietitian: Shawn Hueglin
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz

2017 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup Schedule
Sept. 5: Brazil def. Russia 25-17, 23-25, 25-23, 25-12
Sept. 5: China def. USA 18-25, 25-18, 25-14, 25-17
Sept. 5: Japan def. Korea 25-23, 25-21, 26-24
Sept. 6: China def. Brazil 25-20, 25-12, 20-25, 23-25, 19-17
Sept. 6: USA def. Korea 25-22, 25-20, 25-16 (Watch Replay)
Sept. 6: Russia def. Japan 22-25, 25-18, 25-22, 28-26
Sept. 8: USA def. Russia 23-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-21, 15-9 (Watch Replay)
Sept. 8: China def. Korea 25-14, 25-4, 25-12
Sept. 8: Japan def. Brazil 25-18, 25-27, 25-15, 16-25, 15-6
Sept. 9: China def. Russia 25-20, 25-18, 25-20
Sept. 9: Brazil def. Korea 25-15, 25-10, 25-23
Sept. 9: USA def. Japan 22-25, 25-21, 26-28, 25-21, 15-12
Sept. 10: Korea vs. Russia (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 9) – at Nagoya
Sept. 10: USA vs. Brazil (10:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 9) – at Nagoya
Sept. 10: China vs. Japan (3:15 a.m.) – at Nagoya