U.S. Women's Opponent Capsules for Worlds

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Sept. 17, 2018, 11:36 a.m. (ET)

U.S. Women's National Team during National Anthem prior to match with Thailand
U.S. Women's National Team during National Anthem prior to match with Thailand

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 17, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team begins its FIVB World Championship title defense on Sept. 29 in Kobe, Japan.

The World Championship, played every four years in the second year of the Olympic quadrennial, represents the final 24 teams in the world through a qualification process. A total of 118 national federations participated in the qualification process that started in May 2016.

To create the opening round pools, the final 24 World Championship teams were distributed into four six-team first-round pools through a drawing of lots. The top eight teams in the world ranking as of August 2017 were placed across the four pools in accordance with the serpentine system. Host Japan, ranked No. 6 in the world, was placed in the first position before the remaining seven teams followed. The remaining 16 teams were drawn across the bottom four positions of each of the four first-round pools.

The Americans begin defense of their 2014 title in Kobe, Japan, as they face Azerbaijan (Sept. 29), Trinidad & Tobago (Sept. 30), Korea (Oct. 2), Thailand (Oct. 3) and Russia (Oct. 4) in the first-round Pool C.

The top four teams in each of the four World Championship pools advance to the second round with records versus other advancing teams carrying over to the next round. The top four teams in Pool C advance to the second round set for Oct. 7-11 in Osaka. The top three teams from the two second round pools move on to the third round held Oct. 14-16 in Nagoya, followed by the semifinals and medal matches on Oct. 19-20 in Yokohama.

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

The U.S., ranked second in the world by the FIVB, qualified for the FIVB World Championship as the defending champion. The U.S. is 26-4 overall in 2018, including gold medals at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League and Pan American Cup.

The Americans captured the 2014 World Championship title in Italy, marking their first triple crown title (Olympic Games, FIVB World Championship, FIVB World Cup). However, Team USA has been among the favorites to win most tournaments in this century. The U.S. has medaled in each of the last three Olympic Games, winning silver in 2008 and 2012 before finishing with bronze in 2016. Team USA is the only women’s indoor volleyball team to have reached the podium in each of the last three Olympic Games.

FloVolleyball.tv, a subscription streaming service, will stream all FIVB World Championship matches in the United States per an exclusive rights deal signed with the FIVB. To sign-up for a discounted FloVolleyball.tv subscription, click here. To see the full World Championship schedule that FloVolleyball.tv will stream, click here.

Azerbaijan

Pool C Match vs. USA: Sept. 29 at 3:10 a.m. ET
International Ranking: 24
Qualified Via: CEV (Europe Confederation); Won CEV’s Pool E2 at home May 23-June 4, 2017

Key Azerbaijan Results in 2018
Azerbaijan did not compete in the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League in 2018.

Recent USA-AZE Results
The U.S. is winless in three all-time matches against Azerbaijan, losing once each in 2003, 2004 and 2006. The two countries have not faced off since the 2006 FIVB World Championship.

Azerbaijan Volleyball Profile
Azerbaijan will play in the FIVB World Championship this year for only the fourth time, after a ninth-place finish in their 1994 debut, 13th in 2006 and 15th last time around in 2014.

The country’s best success to date was gold at the 2016 European League after home-and-away wins over Slovakia in the final, 3-1 in Nitra and 3-0 in Baku. They came close to another medal last year, when they hosted the 2017 European Championship, reaching the semifinals before losing to the Netherlands in five sets and then defeated by Turkey in the bronze-medal match.

Republic of Korea

Pool C Match vs. USA: Oct. 2 at 6:20 a.m. ET
International Ranking: 10
Qualified Via: AVC (Asia Confederation), Finished 1st in AVC Pool B World Qualifier Sept. 20-24, 2017 in Thailand

Key Korea Results in 2018
Korea finished 12th in the 16-team FIVB Volleyball Nations League this year with a 5-10 record.

Recent USA-KOR Results
The U.S. swept Korea 25-13, 25-23, 25-19 on June 13, 2018, in the second to last Volleyball Nations League preliminary round match in Santa Fe, Argentina. The Americans out-blocked Korea 10-3 in the match. The U.S. is 14-3 versus Korea since 1983 with eight consecutive victories.

Korea Volleyball Profile
Korea won bronze medals at the 1967 and 1974 FIVB World Championship events, but has not been back on the podium since. After missing out on qualification in 2014, the team returns this year for its 12th appearance overall.

Korea has participated in all but two of the Olympic Games, absent only from Moscow 1980 and Barcelona 1992. They defeated Hungary 3-1 to win bronze at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and have also come close to a medal on two occasions, losing bronze-medal matches to North Korea at 1972 Munich Olympic Games and to Japan at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Russia

Pool C Match vs. USA: Oct. 4 at 6:10 a.m. ET
International Ranking: 5
Qualified Via: CEV (Europe Confederation), Won CEV’s Pool A2 World Qualifier May 23-June 4, 2017 in Croatia

Key Russia Results in 2018
Russia finished the 16-team FIVB Volleyball Nations League with an 8-7 record and in seventh place. Russia bounced back to finish with silver in the 2018 Montreux Volley Masters, losing to Italy in the gold-medal match.

Recent USA-RUS Results
The U.S. blanked Russia 25-14, 25-18, 25-18 on June 5 in the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League preliminary round in Jiangmen, China. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley scored 16 points in the victory. The Americans converted 51.3 percent of their attacks into points in the victory. Since 2013, the U.S. is 12-2 against the Russians. Since 1983, the Americans trail in the series 70-43.

Last World Championship Meetings
For the second consecutive World Championship, USA and Russia will meet on the final day of pool play. If 2014 is any indication, the two teams are in for a close match. The U.S. won an epic 34-32, 25-19, 29-31, 26-24 match over Russia to conclude the first-round pool play undefeated on Sept. 28 during the 2014 World Championship in Verona, Italy. Jordan Larson scored a team-best 22 points in the victory. At the time, Russia was the two-time defending champion.

The U.S. and Russia would meet again in the 2014 World Championship as the Americans won 25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 25-23 in an exciting match in the Final Six pool play to hold on hope of advancing to the semifinals. Kim Hill notched 20 points in the victory and Kelly Murphy added 15 points. The U.S. earned a spot into the semifinals with a 1-1 Final Six pool record and went on to win its first-ever World Championship.

At the 2010 FIVB World Championship, Team USA lost to Russia 25-16, 13-25, 25-19, 25-21 in the semifinal match in Tokyo. Larson and Foluke Akinradewo scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Russia Volleyball Profile
Including its years competing as the Soviet Union, the Russian women's team is the most successful in the history of women's volleyball. They are the most decorated team in the FIVB World Championship with seven gold medals - more than double that of Japan and Cuba, the next best sides with three golds apiece.

This year Russia will compete in the World Championship for the 17th, having only missed the 1967 competition. The Russians finished fifth in the last edition of the World Championship in 2014, after previously winning back-to-back titles, both with 3-2 wins over Brazil in 2006 in Osaka and 2010 in Tokyo.

Russia have also topped the podium at the Olympic Games, winning gold at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, 1980 Moscow Olympic Games and the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

Thailand

Pool C Match vs. USA: Oct. 3 at 6:20 a.m. ET
International Ranking: 16
Qualified Via: AVC (Asia Confederation), Finished 2nd in AVC Pool B World Qualifier held Sept. 20-24 in Thailand

Key Thailand Results in 2018
Thailand concluded the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League with a 2-13 record and in 15th place out of 16 teams.

Recent USA-THA Results
The U.S. cruised past Thailand 25-10, 25-22, 25-16 on May 31 during the FIVB Volleyball Nations League preliminary round on May 31 in Bangkok, Thailand. Jordan Larson scored a match-high 15 points and Kim Hill added 13 points. The U.S. converted 58.2 percent of its attacks into points in the victory.

Last World Championship Meetings
The U.S. and Thailand have met in pool play in the two most recent World Championship editions. The Americans prevailed 25-15, 25-23, 25-20 during the 2014 World Championship pool play on Sept. 27 in Verona, Italy. Jordan Larson scored team-high 14 points in the victory. In their 2010 World Championship opener, Team USA rallied past Thailand 23-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-21 on Oct. 29 in Matsumoto, Japan. Larson and Foluke Akinradewo contributed 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Thailand Volleyball Profile
Thailand will be making its fifth appearance in the FIVB World Championship with a best-finish of 13th accomplished in 1998 and 2010. Thailand has never qualified for the Olympic Games, narrowly missing out on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games two years ago.

In 15 appearances at the FIVB World Grand Prix, Thailand made it to the Finals Round three times, with its best finish coming in 2012 with a fourth-place finish.

Thailand first climbed on the podium of the Asian Games in 2014 after beating Japan 3-0 in the bronze medal match. They were twice crowned Asian champions in 2009 and 2013, and also have three bronze medals in the competition. Thailand claimed its first silver in the latest edition, in 2017, after losing 3-2 to Japan in the final.

Trinidad & Tobago

Pool C Match vs. USA: Sept. 30 at 12:40 a.m. ET
International Ranking: 34
Qualified Via: NORCECA (North America, Central America and Caribbean Confederation), NORCECA Group C Runner-up in World Qualifier held Oct. 11-16, 2017 in Trinidad & Tobago

Key Trinidad & Tobago Results in 2018
Trinidad & Tobago finished 11th in the 12-team Pan American Cup held July 2018 in Dominican Republic. The U.S. is 9-0 all-time versus Trinidad & Tobago.

Recent USA-TTO Results
After dropping the first set to Trinidad & Tobago, the U.S. rallied to win both team’s 2018 Pan American Cup opener 21-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-15 on July 8 in Dominican Republic.

Trinidad & Tobago Volleyball Profile
Out of the 24 teams competing in the 2018 FIVB World Championship, Trinidad & Tobago is the only country making its first appearance in the event. Trinidad & Tobago has never competed in any other world-level event.

The Caribbean country finished 31st in its sole FIVB World Grand Prix appearance last year. Within NORCECA (North America, Central America and Caribbean), Trinidad & Tobago has been developing into a stronger foe. The squad finished sixth in the 2013 NORCECA Continental Championship.

Trinidad & Tobago narrowly missed out on an unprecedented international medal at the 2010 Central American & Caribbean Games of 2010, when it lost 3-1 to Costa Rica in the bronze-medal match.