U.S. Women Lose to China, Now in Worlds' Must-Win

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Oct. 14, 2018, 6:44 a.m. (ET)

U.S. Women's National Team at the FIVB World Championship
U.S. Women at 2018 FIVB World Championship

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 14, 2018) – In a rematch of the top two teams in the world, the second-ranked U.S. Women’s National Team lost its second match to top-ranked China in four days, this time a 25-22, 19-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-9 setback to open the FIVB World Championship Third Round Pool H opener on Sunday in Nagoya, Japan.

Quick Sets

  • Key Stat: Team USA was close to victory in both the first and fourth sets in which it lost. The Americans led 19-16 in the opening set before yielding a 6-1 run to China. In the fourth set, the U.S. overcame a 17-12 deficit to tie the set at 22-all, but could not get over the hump to win the set and match.
  • Key Note: The U.S., which picked up one point in the loss, is now in a must-win situation against Netherlands on Monday. To do so, they will need to snap a three-match losing streak at the World Championship. In the 2014 FIVB World Championship, the Americans also lost their first Third Round pool play match and recovered to win their first-ever World title.
  • Pool H Standings: 1. China (1-0, 2 points), 2. USA (0-1, 1 point), 3. Netherlands (0-0, 0 points)
  • Cumulative 2018 World Championship Records: USA (7-3), China (9-1)
  • World Rankings: No. 2 USA, No. 1 China
  • 2018 Season Record: 33-7
  • Up Next: The U.S. will face Netherlands on Monday at 3:10 a.m. ET to conclude its three-team Pool H schedule. China will play Netherlands on Tuesday at 4:20 a.m. ET.
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Related: U.S. Women’s National Team Home Page | Team USA World Championship Press Kit | Team USA World Championship Event Page

The U.S. concludes its Third Round pool play on Monday at 3:10 a.m. ET against Netherlands, which holds an 8-1 overall record in this World Championship. The Americans are in a must win situation against the Dutch. A Team USA 3-0 or 3-1 win would place the Americans into the semifinals, while a 3-2 win forces the China-Netherlands match concluding the Third Round to determine which of the three teams advance to the semifinals.

The U.S. led China 19-16 in the opening set, but the Chinese used a key 5-1 run to take a 22-20 advantage to win 25-22. Team USA used a 5-1 run to establish a 15-11 advantage in the second set and went on to a 25-19 victory that included 12 points from the middles in the set. The Americans used a 6-0 run to take a 17-12 lead in the third set and cruised to a 25-20 victory. After the U.S. scored three straight to tie the fourth set at 12-all, China answered with a 5-0 run to establish a 17-12 advantage. Team USA rallied to tie the set at 22-all, but China scores final two points for a 25-23 victory. In the tiebreaker, China propelled itself to a 13-7 advantage on four unanswered points to move on to a 15-9 victory.

“I want to congratulate China on a really hard-fought win,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “I am very proud of our team with the way we battled. We came up a little short, but we are excited about the opportunity to come back tomorrow against the Netherlands.”

U.S. outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) led the Americans with 24 points via 22 kills on 54 swings and two blocks. Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) added 16 kills on 27 attacks and two blocks for 18 points. Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) contributed 16 kills on 44 swings and a block for 17 points.

“Definitely, it was such a disappointing match, but I am really proud of our group,” Akinradewo said. “We put together a great match. We were aggressive from the start. We were making great defensive moves and our offense was going. Just a few things here and there could have switched it in our direction. Overall, I am really proud of our team. Obviously, China is a really strong team. I am just excited to bounce back tomorrow against Netherlands.”

“Obviously we wish we would have won this match,” Larson said. “But I am really proud of our group for hanging tough. I thought there was lots of opportunities to win this match. I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

Middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) compiled 12 kills on 17 swings and three blocks for 15 points. Setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) put up four blocks in the loss. Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) tacked on four kills in the loss, while opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) rounded out the scoring with three points with a kill, a block and ace.

Details: Unofficial Match Stats | Official FIVB Stats | FIVB World Championship Web Site

Libero Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California handled 31 receptions with a 52 positive percent to go with 14 digs. Hill was credited with a 49 positive reception percent on a team-best 35 receptions and had 10 digs. Larson handled 27 receptions with a 41 positive percent and had 13 digs.

Team USA converted 42 percent of its attacks into points with .301 hitting efficiency (70-20-166) as Lloyd placed 114 of the team’s 167 total sets. China was held to a 39 kill percent and .241 hitting efficiency (65-25-166).

“It was a very excellent match today,” China Head Coach Jenny Lang Ping said. “USA had very quick moves. There were many things that we should learn from this match.”

The U.S. held a 70-65 advantage in kills, but China’s 15-13 edge in blocks and 5-1 margin in aces paid off in the end. China committed just 21 errors in the five-set match to the Americans’ 23. China also held a 48-41 lead in digs.

Chinese star Zhu Ting led all scorers with 25 points, while Yan Ni added 13. Li Yingying, only 18 years of age, started the final two sets and provided 12 points.

The U.S. started Hill and Larson at outside hitter, Akinradewo and Adams at middle, Murphy at opposite, Lloyd at setter, Robinson at libero. Lowe started the fifth set for Murphy after being a sub in the first and fourth sets. Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma) was a sub in all five sets. Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) was a serving sub in all but the second set. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois) was a serving sub in the second set.

The U.S. knows China well, and the two teams have had a history of matches in the World Championship. The Americans defeated China in four sets in the 2014 World Championship gold-medal match. Up to that point, China had won the three previous World Championship meetings in 1986, 1990 and 2006. China now leads the World Championship series with the Americans 5-4.

Overall, China leads the all-time world-level series (Olympic Games, World Championship, World Cup, World Grand Prix, Volleyball Nations League, World Grand Champions Cup) 39-31. The U.S. defeated China twice during the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, including a four-set win in the semifinals. Outside of the world-level competitions, Team USA has hosted China in the 2015 USA Volleyball Cup where both teams won two matches. Since 1983, China leads the all-time series 93-47 including non-FIVB and Olympic Games matches.

The U.S. focus now turns to defeating Netherlands on Monday. The Americans have already faced Netherlands once this year in Japan, a 25-19, 25-21, 25-23 U.S. victory during the FIVB Volleyball Nations League preliminary round on May 23. Larson scored a match-high 18 points in the victory. Overall, the U.S. is 34-11 against Netherlands dating back to 1983, having won eight consecutive matches in the series. The last Netherlands victory was in the 2009 FIVB World Grand Prix.

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The U.S. took a 4-1 lead in the opening set after consecutive Chinese errors and a Hill block. China scratched two points off the deficit at 4-3, but a Murphy kill and China error lifted the American lead to 6-3. China pulled to within one at 7-6 on consecutive points, then leveled the set at 8-all with two points out of the first technical timeout. The U.S. gained a three-point cushion at 14-11 with a Murphy kill, Akinradewo block and China error. The Chinese scored four unanswered points to take its first lead of the set at 20-19. China reached a two-point cushion at 22-20. China scored the final two points for a 25-22 victory.

The U.S. scored three straight with a Murphy kill followed by two Hill slams to take a 4-1 advantage in the second set. China closed to within one at 6-5 with back-to-back points, then tied the set at 7-all. The U.S. answered with a Larson kill and Adams block to go up 9-7. Team USA stretched the lead to 13-9 with an Adams kill and two Chinese errors. China took two points off the deficit at 13-11. The Americans answered with blocks from Akinradewo and Lloyd to take a 15-11 lead, but China responded with two quick points to slice the deficit to 15-13. The U.S. jumped its lead to 17-13 with an Akinradewo kill and Chinese attack into the net. The Americans extended the advantage to 19-14 with a Larson kill and Chinese error. Team USA inched its lead to 21-15 with a Larson kill and Adams block. China trimmed the gap to 22-18 with consecutive points. Akinradewo hammered consecutive kills to give the Americans a 25-19 victory.

The third set saw the teams trading points until Akinradewo put up a block and Adams followed with a block to give the Americans a 6-4 cushion. Team USA reached the first technical timeout leading 8-5 with a Larson kill after a Chinese error. China came out of the break with three consecutive points to level the set at 8-all. China took the lead at 11-10 with an ace after a USA service error. Team USA answered with three straight as Akinradewo scored a kill and block after a Hill kill to prompt China to call timeout trailing 14-12. Akinradewo hammered two more kills for four straight points and putting the Americans into the second technical timeout up 16-12 on a 5-0 run. Larson slammed a kill to yield a 17-12 American leading for the final point of a 6-0 run. China cut the gap to 18-15 with consecutive points, then moved to within three at 22-19. Akinradewo and Hill hammered kills to give the Americans set points at 24-19. Hill ended the set with a kill at 25-20.

China built a 4-2 lead in the fourth set following an ace. Team USA came back to tie the set at 5-all with an Akinradewo kill and block. China took a two-point cushion at 9-7 with points on each side of the first technical timeout. China extended its lead to 12-9 on back-to-back USA errors. Team USA moved to within one at 12-11 with a Hill kill after a China error. Out of a China timeout, Hill ended a marathon rally with a kill to tie the set at 12-all. China ended the American 3-0 run with five straight points of its own to go up 17-12. Adams picked up a kill and block to close the gap to 19-16. The Americans moved to within two at 20-18 with consecutive China errors. Team USA tied the set at 22-all with two Hill kills around a Lowe ace to prompt China to call timeout. However, China scored the final two points to win 25-23.

China gained the first two-point cushion of the fifth set with consecutive points at 6-4. China reached the side switch leading 8-5 after a block. China stretched the advantage to 11-7 on back-to-back points prompting a USA timeout. The American deficit went to 13-7 as China scored a third and fourth straight points. China scored the winner at 15-9.

U.S. Women's National Team Roster for FIVB World Championship

# - Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
1 –
Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Penn State, Edmond, Oklahoma)
3 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, California, Bonsall, 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)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Florida, Wilmington, Illinois)
13 – Sarah Wilhite Parsons (OH, 6-2, 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, Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
23 – Kelsey Robinson (L, 6-2, Nebraska, Manhattan Beach, California)
24 – Karsta Lowe (OPP, 6-4, UCLA, Rancho Santa Fe, California)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Luka Slabe, Tama Miyashiro
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu
Physiotherapist: Kara Kessans
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz
Doctors: Dr. Christopher Lee and Lori Boyajian-O’Neill
Consultant Coaches: Marv Dunphy
Scout Coach: Giuseppe Vinci
Mental Performance Coach: Traci Statler

2018 FIVB World Championship Schedule for Team USA

First-Round Pool C at Kobe, Japan (All Time Eastern)
Sept. 29: USA def. Azerbaijan 29-27, 25-21, 25-21
Sept. 30: USA def. Trinidad & Tobago 25-11, 25-12, 25-11
Oct. 2: USA def. Korea 19-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-18
Oct. 3: USA def. Thailand 25-17, 25-16, 23-25, 21-25, 15-11
Oct. 4: USA def. Russia 19-25, 25-20, 26-24, 12-25, 15-11

Second Round at Osaka, Japan (Must finish top 4 in Pool C to advance)
Oct. 7: USA def. Bulgaria 25-16, 25-17, 25-11
Oct. 8: USA def. Turkey 25-21, 25-17, 25-18
Oct. 10: USA lost to China 25-17, 26-24, 25-18
Oct. 11: USA lost to Italy 25-16, 25-23, 20-25, 25-16

Third Round at Nagoya, Japan (Must finish top 3 in Second Round to advance)
Oct. 14: USA lost to China 25-22, 19-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-9 (Pool H)
Oct. 14: Japan vs. Serbia, 6:20 a.m. (Pool G)
Oct. 15: USA vs. Netherlands, 3:10 a.m. (Pool H)
Oct. 15: Italy vs. Japan, 6:20 a.m. (Pool G)
Oct. 16: Italy vs. Serbia, 3:10 a.m. (Pool G)
Oct. 16: Netherlands vs. China, 6:20 a.m. (Pool H)

Semifinals and Medal Rounds in Yokohama, Japan (top two finishes in both Third Round Pools)
Oct. 19-20