U.S. Women Down Japan to Finish 5th at Worlds

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Oct. 19, 2018, 9:21 a.m. (ET)

Kim Hill scored 25 points in leading the U.S. Women in their fifth-place match victory over Japan
Kim Hill scored 25 points in leading the U.S. Women in their fifth-place match victory over Japan

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 19, 2018) – The U.S Women’s National Team used a 10-1 block advantage and 7-2 margin in aces to defeat to host Japan 25-23, 25-16, 23-25, 25-23 on Friday in Yokohama to finish in fifth place in the FIVB World Championship.

Quick Sets

  • Key Stat: The U.S. had balanced scoring with five players reaching double-figures led by Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon), who notched a match-high 25 points to lead the Americans.
  • Key Note: Team USA, which lost two heart-breaking five-set matches in the Third Round pool play to fall out of the World Championship title chase, snapped a four-match losing streak.
  • Cumulative 2018 World Championship Records: USA (8-4), Japan (7-5)
  • World Rankings: No. 2 USA, No. 6 Japan
  • 2018 Final USA Season Record: 34-8

Both the Americans and Japanese finished third in their respective Third-Round three team pools to fall into the fifth-place classification match. Earlier today Italy and Serbia defeated China and Netherlands, respectively, in the semifinals and will play for the championship on Saturday.

Related: U.S. Women’s National Team Home Page | Team USA World Championship Press Kit | Team USA World Championship Event Page

The Americans commanded a 9-3 lead early in the first set, only to have Japan come back to tie the set at 16-all. However, Team USA answered with three unanswered to take a 20-17 lead and won the set 25-23. In the second set, the U.S. used a 6-1 run take a 16-9 advantage and cruised to a 25-16 victory. Team USA came back from a 19-16 deficit in the third set to tie the set at 20-all, but Japan scored two quick points and sided out to a 25-23 victory. The third set saw 13 ties before Japan prevailed. The Americans rallied from a 12-10 deficit in the fourth set with a 6-0 run that lifted them to a 14-10 advantage, then held on for a 25-23 victory after leading by as many as six at 18-12.

“It is always an honor and thrill to play against the great Japan team, in Japan, with a gym full of spectators,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “I congratulate them on a great tournament, and the organizers for doing a such a good job organizing the World Championships. Our team had some very disappointing losses. I am really proud of the way our team came back from those and fight hard to close out the tournament with a win.”

U.S. captain Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) echoed Kiraly’s assessment on the atmosphere of playing Japan in Japan.

“I just want to thank you to the Japanese fans,” Larson said. “This atmosphere is so cool, they do such a great job of hosting this tournament. We are so lucky to be part of this tournament.”

Hill notched 25 points with 22 kills on 54 swings, two blocks and an ace. Opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) contributed 17 points with 14 kills on 30 swings and three blocks. Larson charted 10 kills on 33 swings, one block and one ace for 12 points from her outside hitter position.

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

“I thought it was a great game,” Larson said. “I thought Japan played really well. But I was really proud of our team for staying committed to the game plan and executing well. We just wanted to come out strong and just play our volleyball. I think that is always important for us, for whatever situation we are in. Again, I am really proud of our team for coming out strong and sticking with it.”

Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) pocketed nine kills on 18 attacks and two blocks for 11 points. Middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) totaled 10 points with eight kills on 15 swings, one ace and one block. Setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma) tallied four aces, two kills and a block for seven points. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois), who was a serving sub in the first two sets and played briefly in the front row in the third set, rounded out the scoring with two kills on five attacks. Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) was a serving sub in all four set, racking up eight total serves where the Americans won four points.

U.S. libero Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) had a 62 positive reception percent on eight chances and added 12 digs. Larson was 41 percent positive on 44 service receptions to go with 16 digs. Hill added 12 digs and a 48 positive reception percent on 23 chances. Hancock provided 13 digs and Lowe was credited with eight.

The U.S. converted 41 percent of its attacks with a .341 hitting efficiency as Hancock handled 122 of the team’s 154 total set attempts. The American defense limited the Japanese to a 38 kill percent and .270 hitting efficiency.

Along with its dominance in blocking and serving, the U.S. managed a 67-57 advantage in kills over the Japanese. The host nation took advantage of 28 American errors and limited its own miscues to 14 for the match. The U.S. held a 64-54 edge in digs.

Japan was led by Risa Shinnabe’s 16 points followed by Sarina Koga’s 15.

Despite the disappointment of losing the opportunity to defend Team USA’s World Championship won back in 2014, Larson said it was important to finish on a high note.

“I thought at times we played really well,” said Larson, referring to a 7-0 start to the World Championship and some exciting play in two five-set losses in the Third Round dropping the team to the fifth-place match. “Obviously, it was disappointing losing last round. All in all, I thought we finished strong. I think that is the main, key point that we got to take away. But there are a lot of areas we can work on.”

Japan will also be hosting the 2019 FIVB World Cup and the 2020 Olympic Games, and Larson said she and her teammates are excited to return.

“We are excited,” Larson said. “We love coming here. Japan does a great job (of hosting events).”

The U.S. started Hill and Larson at outside hitter, Akinradewo and Adams at middle, Lowe at opposite, Hancock at setter, Robinson at libero.

The U.S. opened the first set with a 2-0 lead thanks to consecutive Japanese errors. The Americans raised their lead to 8-3 with three Hill kills around an Akinradewo kill. Out of the first technical timeout break, Akinradewo placed a block at 9-3 to cap a 5-0 run on Lowe’s serve. Japan cut the deficit to 10-6 with consecutive points, then moved to within three at 12-9. Japan continued to charge back into the set with consecutive points at 13-11. Team USA reached the second technical timeout leading 16-12 with kills from Hill and Lowe. Japan answered with three four points out of the break to level the set at 16-all. The Americans ended the streak with an Akinradewo block and kill around a Japan attack error to yield a 19-16 U.S. lead. Team USA stretched the margin to 21-17 with a Larson kill and Japan error. Japan saved two set points before hitting long to give the Americans a 25-23 victory.

Hancock served consecutive aces to start the second set for a 2-0 American lead. Hill and Lowe connected for back-to-back kills to raise the U.S. lead to 5-2. Team USA extended the advantage to 7-3 with consecutive Hill kills. Japan sliced the deficit to 7-5 with consecutive points. The U.S. inched its lead to 13-8 with kills from Adams, Lowe and Hill prompting a Japanese timeout. Larson served an ace out of the break to cap the 4-0 run at 14-8. The Americans reached the second technical timeout leading 16-9 after kills from Lowe and Hill. Team USA upped its lead to 18-10 with a Japan service error and Akinradewo block. The Americans continued the pressure with kills from Hill and Larson at 20-11. Japan shaved two points off the deficit at 21-14. Larson canned consecutive kills at 23-14. Team USA capped the set at 25-16 with a Japan service error.

Team USA earned a 2-0 lead to start the third set with an Adams kill and Hancock ace, but Japan came back to tie the set at 3-all. Japan took its first lead in any set at 5-4 on consecutive points, then raised its advantage to 7-5 as part of a 4-1 run. Out of an American timeout, Akinradewo pounded a kill and Hill served an ace to level the set at 7-all. Japan built a 10-8 lead after a video challenge reversal, but kills from Adams and Lowe knotted the set again at 10-all. After trading sideouts for 11 points, the U.S. went into the second technical timeout leading 16-15 on a Japan service error and Larson block. However, Japan came out of the break with four consecutive points to take a 19-16 advantage. Team USA ended the run with kills from Bartsch-Hackley and Lowe to close to 19-18 prompting a Japan timeout. The Americans leveled the set at 20-all with kills from Bartsch-Hackley and Lowe. Japan answered with back-to-back points to place them in front 22-20. Japan sided out to a 25-23 victory.

Japan went on a 5-1 run to gain a 5-2 advantage early in the fourth set. Adams scored a kill and ace and Hill followed with an overpass kill to tie the set at 5-all. Japan resumed a two-point edge at 9-7. The Americans ran off four straight with kills from Larson, Lowe and Hill followed by a Hancock ace to reverse the lead to the U.S. at 12-10. After a Japan timeout, Adams and Larson hammered consecutive overpasses to push the American lead to 14-10 on a 6-0 run. Team USA extended the lead to 18-12 with kills from Adams, Lowe and Hill. Japan knocked three points off the gap at 19-16. The Americans pushed forward to a 22-17 lead with an Akinradewo kill and Larson block. Japan answered with three quick points to move to within two at 22-20. Japan saved two set points before Hill slammed the winner at 25-23.

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: China def. USA 25-22, 19-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-9 (Pool H)
Oct. 14: Serbia def. Japan 25-19, 25-18, 25-23 (Pool G)
Oct. 15: Netherlands def. USA 30-32, 15-25, 25-22, 25-15, 15-9 (Pool H)
Oct. 15: Italy def. Japan 25-20, 22-25, 25-21, 19-25, 15-13 (Pool G)
Oct. 16: Serbia def. Italy 25-21, 25-19, 23-25, 25-23 (Pool G)
Oct. 16: China def. Netherlands 23-25, 25-13, 25-18, 25-17 (Pool H)

Final 5-6 at Yokohama, Japan (Two Third Place Teams from Third Round Pools)
Oct. 19: USA def. Japan 25-23, 25-16, 23-25, 25-23

Semifinals and Medal Rounds in Yokohama, Japan (top two finishes in both Third Round Pools)
Oct. 19: Serbia def. Netherlands 25-22, 26-28, 25-19, 25-23 (Semifinal)
Oct. 19: Italy def. China 25-18, 21-25, 25-16, 29-31, 17-15 (Semifinal)
Oct. 20: Netherlands vs. China (Bronze-Medal Match), 3:10 a.m. ET
Oct. 20: Serbia vs. Italy (Gold-Medal Match), 6:20 a.m. ET