U.S. Women Cruise Past Thailand in VNL

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | May 31, 2018, 9:05 a.m. (ET)

Foluke Akinradewo attacks against Thailand in FIVB Volleyball Nations League
Foluke Akinradewo attacks against Thailand as the Americans convert 61.0 percent of attacks.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 31, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Team had four players in double-digit scoring in defeating host Thailand 25-10, 25-22, 25-16 in FIVB Volleyball Nations League action on Thursday in Bangkok.

The U.S. improves to 8-1 overall with 25 points for first place in the Volleyball Nations League standings. Team USA has now won seven straight matches in straight sets. The Americans will have stiff challenges in week four when they face Russia on June 5, Brazil on June 6 and host China on June 7 in Jiangmen, China.

Team USA broke a 3-all tie against Thailand in the opening set with a 4-0 run and the Americans cruised comfortably to a 25-10 victory that included five aces. Thailand trailed 18-11 in the second set, but came back to within two at 19-17, but couldn’t get any closer as the Americans won 25-21. The U.S. led 8-3 in the third set, but Thailand scored six unanswered points to take a 9-8 advantage. However, the Americans found fire again taking a 15-11 lead on a 7-2 run en route to an easy 25-16 victory.

“The win is good, but we know this is a very long tournament,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “We are three weeks into the Volleyball Nations League, but we have a very difficult week coming up with Russia, Brazil and China. So it is important to conserve our energy.”

Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) led Team USA’s balanced scoring attack with 15 points on the strength of nine kill son 18 swings, four aces and two blocks. Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) was on fire with 13 kills on 18 swings. Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) contributed nine kills on 18 swings, two blocks and an ace for 12 points. Middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) added eight kills on nine attacks, one block and one ace for 10 points.

"What an awesome environment it was to play here," Larson said. "We always enjoy coming to Bangkok and the Thailand Volleyball Association did a great job in hosting this event. It was just a great match to be a part of and I’m really proud of our team. We’re continuing to work on some things and we’re getting better everyday. We have a tough team coming up, but I’m confident with our team and I’m excited to keep going.”

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

Middle Foluke Akinradewo pocketed eight points with six kills on 10 attacks, one block and one ace. Setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) served two aces in the victory. Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois), who was a double sub in all three sets with Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma), rounded out the scoring with two kills on four attacks.

Libero Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) handled 12 serves with a 67 positive reception percent. Hill added 18 receptions with a 56 positive reception percent, while Larson was credited with a 50 positive reception percent on 14 chances.

Lloyd set the Americans to a stellar 61.0 kill percent as the U.S. out-killed Thailand 47-28. The U.S. had just six attack errors and 12 total errors for the match. Thailand was limited to a 34.1 kill percent.

Team USA had a 9-4 ace advantage to keep Thailand’s offense out of system. The U.S. also produced a 6-4 edge in blocks. U.S. also won the defensive battle with a 19-10 dig margin.

Kiraly said the team always enjoys coming to Thailand in front the sell-out crowd.

“The more energy in the hall, the better,” Kiraly said. “We love playing in Thailand against Thailand. The people are so excited about volleyball, about their team. That is the best possible atmosphere to play in.”

The U.S. started Lloyd at setter, Drews at opposite, Hill and Larson at outside, and Akinradewo and Gibbemeyer at middle. Robinson served as the libero.

Thailand’s Onuma Sittirak had eight points to lead her team in scoring.

Team USA’s attention now turns to week four in China where many after marked it on their calendars as the top pool in the inaugural Volleyball Nations League.

“We got a really tough one next week with three really good teams starting with Russia, followed by Brazil and then host China – already the host of Finals Week. Each one of those matches will be a very strong test for us.”

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.

Larson served an ace after a Hill backrow kill to give the U.S. an immediate 2-0 lead in the opening set. Thailand leveled the score at 3-all. Akinradewo scored three points around a Drews ace to give the Americans a 7-3 advantage. Hill and Larson slammed back-to-back kills to extend the American lead to 9-4. Akinradewo pounded a kill and Larson put up a block to force Thailand to call timeout down 11-5. Gibbemeyer scored a kill and block around a Drews block followed by consecutive Lloyd aces to increase the margin to 16-6 on a 5-0 run. Larson and Gibbemeyer connected on kills followed by a Larson ace to produce a 19-7 Team USA advantage. Out of a Thailand timeout, Drews pounded a kill off the Thailand block and Hill downed an overpass for a point to increase the U.S. lead to 21-7 to cap a 6-0 run. Thailand scored three straight to cut the deficit to 23-10. Hill scored the set winner on a kill at 25-10.

Larson opened the second set with three consecutive service winners to give the Americans a 3-0 lead. Thailand cut the gap to 3-2 following an ace. Hill slammed a kill and Thailand hit into the net to increase the American lead to 7-4. Larson back-to-back kills to lift the U.S. to a 9-5 lead. Gibbemeyer landed a slide between two Thailand errors to inch the Team USA to 13-7. After a Thailand timeout, Gibbemeyer put up a block to push the lead to 14-7. Thailand served an ace to slice the gap to 14-9. After trailing 18-11, Thailand clawed to within two at 19-17. Murphy ended the Thailand run with a kill and Drews followed with a cross-court winner at 21-17. Team USA finished the set at 25-22 on a Hill kill after Thailand saved two set points.

The U.S. went up 5-1 with a Gibbemeyer kill and ace around Drews getting a block and kill. Drews and Jordan connected for kills to put the U.S. in front 8-3 at the first technical timeout. Thailand rolled off six unanswered points to take a 9-8 lead. Larson ended the run with a kill and Akinradewo served an ace to put the American in front 10-9. Thailand reversed the lead again with back-to-back points to go up 11-10. Larson answered with a kill and Gibbemeyer followed with a quick kill out of the middle and added a block for a 13-11 American lead. Drews scored a fourth and fifth straight point on kills to lift the Team USA lead to 15-11. The U.S. went up 21-14 as Hill scored a kill between two Thailand errors. Out of a Thailand timeout, Akinradewo downed a kill for a fourth straight USA point at 22-14. Larson scored the final two points of the set for a 25-16 victory.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB Volleyball Nations League May 29-31
# - 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