U.S. Women Block Argentina to End VNL Prelims

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | June 14, 2018, 9:53 p.m. (ET)

Michelle Bartsch-Hackley attacking against Argentina
Michelle Bartsch-Hackley attacking for one of her 13 points against Argentina as Team USA finished the FIVB Volleyball Nations League prelims in first place with a 13-2 mark.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 14, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Team had five players in double-figure scoring in dominating Argentina 25-15, 25-14, 25-15 on Thursday in Santa Fe, Argentina, to close out the 15-match FIVB Volleyball Nations League round-robin preliminary round in first place.

The Americans, ranked second in the world, concludes the preliminary phase with a 13-2 record and 40 points. Argentina ended the tournament with a 1-14 record and in last place of the 16-team tournament.

Team USA finished ahead of second-place Serbia (12-3, 37), third-place Brazil (12-3, 35 points), fourth-place Netherlands (12-3, 34 points) and fifth-place Turkey (11-4, 35 points). All five teams will compete in the Finals Round June 27 to July 1 with host country China (7-8, 22 points) in Nanjing. Based on the serpentine seeding system, the Americans will have Serbia and Turkey in their Finals Round pool. Those two teams were the only countries to defeat the U.S. in the VNL this year.

Related: U.S. Women's National Team Home Page | U.S. Women's 2018 Schedule/Results/Match Stats

The U.S. built up a 15-9 margin in the opening set and never let Argentina into the set with a 25-15 victory that netted a 20-9 kill advantage for the Americans. Team USA broke a 4-all tie in the second set with a 4-0 run, and never let off the gas to win 25-14 as the Americans have eight blocks in the set. After trailing 6-3 in the third set, the U.S. used a 6-1 run to stake a 9-7 lead and cruised to the final win at 25-15.

Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) and outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois) tallied team-leading 13 points for the Americans. Drews reached her total with eight kills on 14 swings, a team-leading four blocks and an ace. Bartsch-Hackley, Team USA’s leading scoring in the 15-match preliminary, had 12 kills on 23 attacks and an ace. Midde Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota) contributed six kills on nine swings, three blocks and two aces for 11 points.

“I think we had a really good match all the way around,” Bartsch-Hackley said. “We wanted to end this really long tournament with a really good match. I think we did that, and we are ready to go on.”

Middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) pocketed 10 points with seven kills on 12 attacks, two blocks and one ace. Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) reached double-figure scoring with eight kills on 20 swings and two blocks. Setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma), who started the final two sets after coming in as part of the double sub with Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) in the first set, tallied two aces, one block and an ace for four points. Murphy chipped in two kills on two swings, while starting setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) rounded out the scoring with a block.

Libero Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) handled 13 receptions with a 62 positive reception percent without an error. Hill was credited with a 50 positive reception percent on 20 chances.

The setting combination of Hancock and Lloyd allowed the Americans to convert 53.0 percent of their attacks into points. The U.S. defense limited Argentina to a 27.7 kill percent for the match.

Team USA dominated at the net with a 13-3 block advantage and 44-23 margin in kills. The Americans also produced a 7-3 edge in aces. The U.S. limited its errors to 15 for the match.

The U.S. started Lloyd at setter, Drews at opposite, Bartsch-Hackley and Hill at outside, and Dixon and Adams at middle. Robinson served as the libero.

Argentina’s Anahi Florencia Tosi led her squad with seven points.

After the U.S. played 15 matches in five different countries over the course of five weeks, Team USA is ready to get home and recharge for the Finals Round.

“I think we are going to take one match at a time,” Bartsch-Hackley said. “Right now we are really excited to go home, and to restart and get a little bit of training at home. Then we will go one match at a time.”

The Volleyball Nations League utilizes a five-week preliminary round robin schedule where all 16 teams play each other. The Volleyball Nations League Final Round will have host China joining the top five teams from the preliminary standings.

The U.S. earned an early 2-0 lead in the opening set with a Drews kill and Argentina error. Team USA upped its lead to 5-2 with a Lloyd block after an Argentina service error. The Americans raised their lead to 12-8 with an Argentina attack error, then went up 15-9 on a 3-0 run capped by a Dixon kill. Adams inched the margin to seven at 17-10 with a kill out of the middle. Murphy and Bartsch-Hackley hammered back-to-back kills to yield a 19-11 Team USA margin. Out of an Argentina timeout, Hill slammed a kill from the back row to extend the lead to 20-11. Drews scored two kills around a Hill kill to produce a 23-12 American advantage. Argentina scored back-to-back points to narrow the gap to 23-14. Team USA finished the set at 25-15 on a Drews block.

Bartsch-Hackley scored back-to-back kills and Drews hammered a kill to give the U.S. a 3-1 margin in the second set. Argentina leveled the score with a kill and an ace off the net at 3-all. Dixon and Hancock put up back-to-back blocks, Drews served an ace and Hill scored a block to yield an 8-4 American lead at the first technical timeout. Dixon scored a block and ran a slide kill to perfection to push the Team USA lead to 10-5. Argentina sliced the gap to 11-7 following a block. The Americans advanced the advantage to 13-8 with a Bartsch-Hackley kill and Hancock ace. Out of an Argentina timeout, Hancock served a second ace to place the score at 14-8. Bartsch-Hackley powered down a kill and Adams scored a block to place the Americans in front 16-9 at the second technical timeout. Out of the break, Hill scored a kill and block to extend the lead to 18-9 on a 4-0 run. Out of an Argentina timeout, Drews slammed a fifth unanswered point at 19-9. Argentina scored consecutive points to drop the American advantage to 22-14. Bartsch-Hackley and Adams scored the final two points on kills at 25-14.

Argentina took a 3-1 advantage in the third set with an ace. Adams answered with a monster kill and ace to quickly level the score at 3-all. Argentina answered with three straight points to stake a three-point cushion at 6-3. Hill scored two kills after a Dixon point to square the set at 6-all. Team USA went into the first technical timeout leading 8-7 with consecutive Bartsch-Hackley spikes. Hancock won a joust out of the break to extend the lead to 9-7. Dixon scored a kill and two aces to stretch the lead to 12-8. Consecutive Argentina errors shifted the advantage to 14-9 for the Americans. Drews and Hill kills gave the U.S. a 16-10 lead at the second technical timeout. Out of the break, Bartsch-Hackley nailed an ace to up the advantage to 17-10. A Drews block and Dixon kill after an Argentina service error raised the American lead to 20-11. Argentina committed an error and Drews put up a block for a fifth straight USA point at 22-11. Argentina knocked two points off the deficit at 23-14 following an ace. Team USA closed out the set and match at 25-15 on a Dixon kill.

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 lost to Serbia 30-28, 23-25, 25-20, 25-18 (at Santa Fe, Argentina)
June 13: USA def. Korea 25-13, 25-23, 25-19 (at Santa Fe, Argentina)
June 14: USA def. Argentina 25-15, 25-14, 25-15 (at Santa Fe, Argentina)

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