U.S. Women Prepare for Tough VNL Week 4

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | June 03, 2018, 11:50 a.m. (ET)

U.S. Women's National Team
The U.S. Women's National Team roster will stay the course in week four of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League as it plays Russia, Brazil and China. Team USA sits atop the 16-team standings with an 8-1 record with seven consecutive sweeps.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 3, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Team continues to stream-roll through FIVB Volleyball Nations League competition with seven consecutive sweeps. However, Team USA will have a much stiffer slate of opponents this week in Jiangmen, China.

The Americans, which sit atop the VNL standings with an 8-1 record and 25 standings points, will face Russia on June 5 (4 a.m. ET), Brazil on June 6 (4 a.m. ET) and host China on June 7 (7:30 a.m. ET) in the most anticipated week of pool play in the five-week preliminary schedule. Brazil, ranked No. 4 in the world, is second in the standings with an 8-1 record and 24 points. Russia, ranked fifth in the world, is sixth in the VNL with a 6-3 record with 17 points. China, ranked No. 1 in the world, has compiled a 5-4 record and 16 points while using a younger roster through the first three weeks as it has already qualified for the VNL Finals Round as the host country.

“We face our toughest week of Volleyball Nations League so far, with three high-quality opponents in Russia, Brazil and then host China,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “Each one of those programs has a great history of success internationally, and each match will be a great test for us.”

The U.S. coaching staff has elected to keep the same roster it used the past two weeks in Japan and Thailand where the Americans outscored opponents 450-332 in six matches. The U.S. has limited opponents to just 18.4 points per set in the past two weeks (18.6 points per set over seven-match win streak).

Team USA has shifted its starting lineup consistently through the first nine matches of the Volleyball Nations League. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois), who has seen time at both outside and opposite, is the top American scorer with 107 points (91 kills, 7 blocks, 6 aces) and ranks 18th overall in scoring. She has led the U.S. in scoring in five of the nine matches. Bartsch-Hackley is third in the VNL Best Spiker race with a 45.96 kill percent, and fifth in Best Receiver with a 17.23 efficiency percent.

Outside Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) ranks 28th in scoring with 90 points (69 kills, 8 blocks, 13 aces). She leads all VNL players with a 0.43 ace average per set. Outside Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) has 87 points (77 kills, 7 blocks, 3 aces) for 31st in the VNL. She has converted 44.51 percent of her attacks for sixth in Best Spiker. Hill ranks first in the Best Receiver category with 22.39 efficiency percent.

Setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) ranks first in Best Setter with a 14.37 running sets average per set. Ironically, she is also third in Best Digger with 1.53 digs per set from her setter position. Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) is the team’s best blocker with a 0.56 block average per set for 14th in VNL.

Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California), who shifted from outside hitter to libero in the third match of the VNL, ranks fourth in digs with 1.53 digs per set. She also has a 14.29 reception efficiency for seventh-best in VNL.

Brazil is led by Tandara Caixeta, who ranks second in scoring with 178 points (157 kills, 9 blocks, 12 aces). She ranks fourth in Best Spiker with a 45.91 kill percent and sixth in Best Server with a 0.36 ace average. Brazil has two of the top four blockers in the VNL with Ana Beatriz Correa ranking second with 0.85 blocks per set and Adenizia Da Silva with 0.76 blocks per set. Roberta Ratzke is fifth in setting with 8.09 running sets average and is eighth in serving with 0.33 aces per set.

Russia’s Irina Vronkova has 138 points (110 kills, 15 blocks, 13 aces) for sixth in scoring. She is also second in Best Spiker with a 48.25 kill percent and fourth in serving with 0.39 aces per set. Natalia Malykh is 10th in Best Spiker with a 42.35 kill percent with 72 kills on 170 swings. Russia’s top blocker is Irina Fetisova with 0.61 average per set for 13th overall. Tatiana Romanova is averaging 5.39 running sets average for 11th overall and has 0.33 aces per set for ninth overall.

China’s Xiaotong Liu holds 89 points (72 kills, 8 blocks, 9 aces) for 29th in scoring in the VNL. Ni Yan is 17th in blocking with 0.50 blocks per set. Xia Ding averages 4.05 running sets per set for 17th overall.

Following the U.S. and Brazil in the overall standings is Serbia in third place with an 8-1 record and 23 points. Team USA plays Serbia in the fifth and final week of the preliminary round. Netherlands is fourth in the standings with a 7-2 record and 20 points. Turkey, the only team to defeat the U.S., is fifth in the standings with a 6-3 record and 19 points.

The VNL Finals Round will have China and the top five teams competing in Nanjing, China from June 27 to July 1.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB Volleyball Nations League June 5-7
# - Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
1 – Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Penn State, Edmond, Oklahoma)
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)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (M, 6-2, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Florida, Wilmington, Illinois)
13 – Sarah Wilhite (OH, 6-1, Minnesota, Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Champaign, Illinois)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Portland, Oregon)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (M, 6-3, Stanford, Plantation, Florida)
23 – Kelsey Robinson (L, 6-2, Nebraska, Manhattan Beach, California)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Luka Slabe, Tama Miyashiro, Erin Virtue
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz

Women’s FIVB Volleyball Nations League Schedule

U.S. Women’s Schedule for FIVB Volleyball Nations League Preliminary Round
May 15: USA def. Poland 28-26, 25-22, 22-25, 25-15 (at Lincoln, Nebraska)
May 16: USA lost to Turkey 28-26, 25-19, 20-25, 24-26, 16-14 (at Lincoln, Nebraska)
May 17: USA def. Italy 25-21, 25-18, 25-21 (at Lincoln, Nebraska)
May 22: USA def. Japan 25-20, 25-16, 25-23 (at Toyota, Japan)
May 23: USA def. Netherlands 25-19, 25-21, 25-23 (at Toyota, Japan)
May 24: USA def. Belgium 25-11, 25-17, 25-18 (at Toyota, Japan)
May 29: USA def. Germany 25-18, 25-17, 25-17 (at Bangkok, Thailand)
May 30: USA def. Dominican Republic 25-20, 25-23, 25-21 (at Bangkok, Thailand)
May 31: USA def. Thailand 25-10, 25-22, 25-16 (at Bangkok, Thailand)
June 5: USA vs. Russia, 4 a.m. ET (at Jiangmen, China)
June 6: USA vs. Brazil, 4 a.m. ET (at Jiangmen, China)
June 7: USA vs. China, 7:30 a.m. ET (at Jiangmen, China)
June 12: USA vs. Serbia, 4:40 p.m. ET (at Santa Fe, Argentina)
June 13: USA vs. Korea, 4:40 p.m. ET (at Santa Fe, Argentina)
June 14: USA vs. Argentina, 7:40 p.m. ET (at Santa Fe, Argentina)

June 27-July 1: FIVB Volleyball Nations League Final Round (Host China + Top 5 Teams)
At Nanjing, China