U.S. Women Close Out VNL Prelims this Week

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | June 10, 2018, 2:24 p.m. (ET)

U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team
The Americans have had plenty to smile about with a 10-match win streak heading into the final FIVB Volleyball Nations League preliminary week

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 10, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Team has won its last 10 FIVB Volleyball Nations League matches – nine in the 3-0 variety – to head into the final preliminary round week in Santa Fe, Argentina, already qualified for the Finals Round.

The U.S. concludes the 15-match, round-robin preliminaries against third-place Serbia (9-3, 28 points) on June 12 at 4:40 p.m. ET, followed by 12th-place Korea (5-7, 14 points) on June 13 at 4:40 p.m. ET and 16th-place Argentina (0-12, 0 points) on June 14 at 7:40 p.m. ET.

The Americans sit comfortably atop the VNL standings with an 11-1 record and 34 standings points after an impressive showing against No. 5 Russia (3-0 win), No. 4 Brazil (3-1 win) and No. 1 China (3-0 win) in Jiangmen, China last week. Team USA is one match ahead of second-place Brazil (10-2, 28 points), but more importantly, six points ahead in the standings versus the Brazilians, the Serbians and Turkey (9-3, 28 points).

Related: U.S. Women's National Team Home Page | U.S. Women's National Team Schedule/Results/Match Stats

Regardless of how other teams do this week, Team USA can clinch the top seed heading into the Finals Round with two victories this week. One American match win and any Serbian set loss assures the U.S. at least second place.

The U.S. coaching staff will keep the same roster that has been used in the previous three weeks of the Volleyball Nations League.

While the 14-player U.S. roster has been nearly identical for all five weeks (just one roster switch occurring in Week 2), that has not meant Kiraly has sent out the same players in the first 12 matches of the Volleyball Nations League. Team USA has used nine different starting lineup combinations through the first 12 matches, and only Lloyd has started all 12 matches. Robinson has started 11 matches, with the last 10 being at libero. Coincidentally, the Americans have won all 10 matches since Robinson made the switch from outside hitter to libero on May 17 – her first-ever match playing libero for Team USA in international competition. The different starting lineups have resulted in 10 players having started at least six matches.

Bartsch-Hackley, who has led the U.S. in scoring in seven of the 12 matches, has been one of the scoring stalwarts of this year’s VNL even though she has not started five matches. She has scored 144 points (122 kills, 9 blocks, 13 aces), ranking 14th overall in the VNL, for 4.24 points per set. Bartsch-Hackley ranks second in Best Spiker with a 47.66 kill percent. She has amassed 13 aces and ranks eighth in the VNL. Bartsch-Hackley holds a 13.13 reception efficiency for eighth overall.

Larson ranks 27th in scoring with 119 points (94 kills, 12 blocks, 13 aces), or 3.97 points per set. She ranks 16th in Best Spiker with a 40.0 kill percent. Larson ranks seventh in Best Server with a 0.33 ace average to USA sets played, or 0.43 ace average per sets she has played. She ranks 11th in Best Digger with 1.40 digs per Team USA sets, or 1.87 digs per set she has played.

Hill follows with 108 points (95 kills, 7 blocks, six kills) for 34th in the VNL and with a 4.00 points per set average. She is 11th in Best Spiker with a 40.95 kill percent. Hill is first in Best Receiver with a 22.22 efficiency percent.

Even with the changing lineup on the court, Lloyd ranks first in Best Setter with a 16.55 running sets per set average (sets with only one or no blockers in front of the hitters). She has also played a valuable role on defense by ranking fifth in Best Digger with 1.65 digs per set.

Robinson is second in the VNL in Best Digger with 1.75 digs per set that Team USA has played, or 2.00 digs per set she has competed in during VNL. She ranks sixth in Best Receiver with a 13.85 efficiency percent.

Gibbemeyer, despite just six starts, ranks 10th in Best Blocker with a 0.55 average per USA sets plays, or 1.05 blocks per set she has played.

The VNL Finals Round will have China and the top five teams competing in Nanjing, China from June 27 to July 1. With Team USA and China already with tickets to Nanjing, four spots remain for the taking this week. Brazil, Serbia and Turkey all need just one win in their remaining matches to advance to the Finals Round. Netherlands (9-3, 26 points) could secure the final spot with two wins to hold back both Italy (7-5, 21 points) and Russia (6-6, 18 points).

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB Volleyball Nations League June 12-14
# - 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 def. Russia 25-14, 25-18, 25-18 (at Jiangmen, China)
June 6: USA def. Brazil 25-23, 26-28, 25-21, 25-18 (at Jiangmen, China)
June 7: USA def. China 25-20, 25-22, 25-20 (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