U.S. Women Rally Past Brazil in Five

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Aug. 16, 2018, 10:03 p.m. (ET)

Simone Lee attacks against Brazil
Simone Lee attacks against the Brazilian block

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 16, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Team overcame a two-set deficit to defeat host Brazil 15-25, 23-25, 25-21, 25-23, 17-15 on Thursday in Uberaba during the third of four exhibition matches between the two powerhouse countries.

Team USA now has won the first three matches in the exhibition tour. The fourth and final match of the series will be played Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m. ET in Rio de Janeiro in Maracanazinho, the famed venue that also hosted the 2016 Olympic Games volleyball matches where Team USA won bronze.

Brazil controlled the opening set from the start, taking a 16-7 advantage en route to a 25-15 victory. Brazil scored the first four points of the second set before the Americans tied the set at 5-all. After Brazil rolled to a 16-10 lead, the U.S. answered with an 11-4 run to take a 21-20 advantage only to have Brazil come back for the 25-23 victory.

Although the U.S. lost the second set, that late momentum was pivotal as it carried over into the final three sets. Team USA overcame a 15-12 deficit in the third set with a 9-3 run, then went on to win 25-21. The Americans sent the match to a fifth set by winning a close fourth set 25-23 after trailing 22-21 late in the set. The U.S. opened up a 6-1 advantage in the tiebreaker and reached match point 14-11 before Brazil saved three straight points. The Americans completed the comeback with consecutive points to win 17-15.

USA vs. Brazil Exhibition Tour Series

Opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) tallied 18 points with 15 kills on 43 swings and three blocks to help the American attack. Outside hitter Madi Kingdon Rishel (Phoenix, Arizona) supplied 17 points with 15 kills on 38 swings and two blocks. Middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) provided 15 points in the victory with nine kills on 24 swings, five blocks and an ace.

Related: Match Stats (Updated) | Photo Gallery | U.S. Women's National Team Home Page

Outside hitter Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin) contributed eight kills on 29 swings, one blocks and one ace for 10 points. Middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) charted six kills on 12 swings, two blocks and an ace for nine points. Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) provided two blocks and two aces for four points in the victory. Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) pocketed four kills on six errorless swings and one block in the double-sub during the first four sets. Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma), who was part of the double-sub with Drews, rounded out the scoring with two aces on 12 serves in her limited action on the court.

Lee handled 51 of Team USA’s 100 receptions with a 43 positive reception percent, while adding eight digs. Libero Amanda Benson (Litchfield Park, Arizona) added 25 receptions with a 64 positive reception percent, along with a team-leading 10 digs. Kingdon Rishel was credited with a 55 positive reception percent on 22 chances.

With Carlini as the starting setter and Hancock running the offense in the double sub, Team USA converted 37 percent of its attacks with a .208 hitting efficiency (57-25-154). Carlini had 112 of Team USA's 153 set attempts, while Hancock had 17 set attempts. The American offense got better as the match went on following a 24 kill percent in the opening set. Meanwhile, Brazil lost the match despite having a 44 kill percent and .234 hitting efficiency (64-30-145).

The U.S. held a 16-10 block advantage for the match, including seven blocks in the fourth set. Brazil held a 64-57 margin in kills and both teams served seven aces..

Gabi led Brazil with 21 points and Tandara added 18 points.

The U.S. started Gibbemeyer and Adams at middle, Kingdon Rishel and Lee at outside hitter, Lowe at opposite and Carlini at setter. Benson was the libero for the match. For the third straight match, U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly mixed up the starting lineup as now all 14 American players competing in Brazil have at least one start in the three matches.

Team USA elected not to travel a handful of veteran Olympic athletes (Foluke Akinradewo, Kim Hill, Jordan Larson, Carli Lloyd, Kelly Murphy, Kelsey Robinson), allowing younger players and others returning from injury the opportunity to compete and be evaluated for the upcoming FIVB World Championship roster.

The FIVB Women’s World Championship, played every four years in the second year of the Olympic quadrennial, is set for Sept. 29 to Oct. 20 in Japan. The Americans begin defense of their 2014 title in Kobe as they face Azerbaijan (Sept. 29), Trinidad & Tobago (Sept. 30), Korea (Oct. 2), Thailand (Oct. 3) and Russia (Oct. 4) in Pool C. The top four teams in Pool C advance to the second round (Oct. 7-11) in Osaka. The top six teams from the second round move on to the third round held Oct. 14-16 in Nagoya, followed by the semifinals and medal matches on Oct. 19-20 in Yokohama.

Brazil reached a 12-6 advantage in the opening set, then stretched the advantage to 16-7. Carlini served an ace to put the U.S. within seven at 20-13. Brazil continued to click through to a 25-15 victory.

Brazil scored the first four points of the second set, but Lowe downed a kill and Adams put up consecutive blocks to cut the gap to 4-3. Team USA tied the set at 5-all with an Adams block and Lee kill. Brazil answered with three straight points to stake an 8-5 lead. After Brazil upped its lead to 11-7, the U.S. sliced two points off with kills from Gibbemeyer and Lowe at 11-9. Brazil raised its lead to 16-10 on a 5-1 scoring run. Adams served an ace to narrow the gap to 18-15 in a 3-0 run that included a Lee kill. Hancock served an ace followed by a Drews kill at 20-18. Team USA roared back into a tie at 20-all following consecutive Gibbemeyer blocks. Lee gave the Americans the lead at 21-20 as part of an 11-4 run. Brazil regained the lead at 23-21 with three straight points. Brazil sided out to a 25-23 victory.

Brazil started the third set with a 2-0 advantage, but the U.S. rallied to a 3-all tie with consecutive Brazil errors. The Americans gained a 7-4 edge following four straight Brazil errors. Brazil answered with three straight points to level the set at 8-all, then took the lead back at 11-10. Brazil extended its lead to 15-12 on three unanswered points. A Lee kill, Drews block and Hancock ace squared the set at 15-all. The U.S. reversed the lead at 18-17 with a Kingdon Rishel kill and Brazil error. Team USA expanded its advantage to 21-18 with back-to-back Brazil errors followed by an Adams block. Team USA finished the set at 25-21 with a Lowe kill and Lee block.

Team USA took its first lead of the fourth set at 5-4 following a Gibbemeyer kill and Lee ace, but Brazil bounced back into the lead at 8-5 with four straight points. Brazil raised its margin to four at 10-6. Consecutive Lowe kills cut the gap in half at 10-8. The Americans sliced the deficit to 12-11 with an Adams kill and Brazil attack error, then moved into a tie at 13-all with a Gibbemeyer kill and Brazil error. Brazil answered with back-to-back points for a 15-13 lead. Drews and Kingdon Rishel tallied back-to-back kills to level the set at 16-all. Team USA took the lead at 18-17 with a Kingdon kill and Carlini ace. Out of a Brazil timeout, Kingdon Rishel pounded a kill to lift the American lead to 19-17. Brazil roared back into the lead at 20-19 with three unanswered points. Team USA went in front 23-22 with a Kingdon Rishel kill and Gibbemeyer block. Out of a Brazil timeout, Gibbemeyer put up another block to give the Americans set point 24-22. Gibbemeyer finished the set at 25-23 with a kill.

The U.S. started the fifth strong with an opening Lowe kill and consecutive Kingdon Rishel slams to go up 3-0. Adams and Lee provided kills followed by a Brazil error to extend the American lead to 6-1. Brazil stopped the run with consecutive points to slice the gap to 6-3. The U.S. extended the lead to 9-4 with a Gibbemeyer kill and Brazil attack error. Out of its timeout, Brazil knocked two points off its deficit to close to within 9-6. Brazil continued to claw back into the set, moving to within 12-10 prompting a USA timeout. Brazil saved three match points to tie the set at 14-all. Team USA won the match on a Kingdon Rishel kill and Gibbemeyer ace for a 17-15 victory.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for Brazil Exhibition Tour
# - Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
1 – Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Penn State, Edmond, Oklahoma)
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 Rishel (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
10 – Simone Lee (OH, 6-1, Penn State, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
13 – Sarah Wilhite Parsons (OH, 6-2, Minnesota, Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Champaign, Illinois)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
20 – Amanda Benson (L, 5-7, Oregon, Litchfield Park, Arizona)
24 – Karsta Lowe (OPP, 6-4, UCLA, Rancho Santa Fe, California)
25 – Chiaka Ogbobu (M, 6-2, Texas, Coppell, Texas)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Tama Miyashiro, Jeff Liu
Physiotherapist: Kara Kessans
Technical Coordinator: Matthew Choi