U.S. Women Unable to Overcome Brazil in VNL

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | June 06, 2019, 11:56 p.m. (ET)

Dana Rettke attacking against the Brazil block
Dana Rettke attacks against the Brazil block

LINCOLN, Neb. (June 6, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Team lost to Brazil 25-19, 25-17, 22-25, 25-20 Thursday evening to conclude its FIVB Volleyball Nations League homestand in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Americans, now 7-2 overall with 21 points, return to the road next week in Jiangmen, China, where they will face three teams all in the top six of the current rankings. The U.S., in third place, plays tournament-leader and 2018 VNL runner-up Turkey (8-1, 24 points) on June 11 followed by fifth place Poland (7-2, 20 points) on June 12. Both matches are at 4 a.m. ET. Team USA concludes the week in China against the host country (7-2, 20 points) on June 13 at 8 a.m. ET. All three matches are being streamed on flovolleyball.tv.

After 12 ties and three lead changes early in the opening set, Brazil went on a 7-2 scoring run to grab an 18-14 lead and went on to win 25-19. Brazil controlled much of set two, inching its way to a 15-10 advantage and scored the final five of six points for a 25-17 victory. Team USA built a 20-13 lead in the third set with a 9-3 run and held off Brazil’s late charge to win 25-22. After Brazil led 17-13 in the fourth set, the Americans closed to within one at 18-17. However, Brazil scored six of the final eight points for the 25-18 victory.

Related: Unofficial Stats

“First of all, Brazil just beat us,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “They played a really solid match tonight. They passed at a very high level. They out-passed us, out-served us. They played really disciplined defense. My hats off to them on playing a really strong volleyball match.”

Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) led Team USA with 19 points with 16 kills on 38 attacks, two blocks and an ace. Middle Dana Rettke (Riverside, Illinois) added 13 kills on 21 attacks, three blocks and an ace for 17 points.

“Brazil came out hot, but I think we came out pretty slow,” Drews said. “That is completely on us. I think our defensive effort was not strong at the start. Karch called a couple aggressive timeouts early and rightfully so. When our effort is there, and we are reading and we are just moving and diving, we are so good when we are disciplined. I think the message of the first two sets was to get that discipline back. When we did that, the game got more open to us.”

Outside hitters Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) and Mikaela Foecke (West Point, Iowa) totaled eight points all on kills. Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas) came off the bench to provide six kills on 10 attacks and two blocks for eight points. Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) pocketed six kills. Setter Jordyn Poulter (Aurora, Colorado) tallied two kills and a block for three points, while middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota) added two kills.

The U.S. converted 43 percent of its attacks into points with a .290 hitting efficiency (59-29-138). In contrast, Brazil hit at a 49 percent with a .402 hitting efficiency (65-12-132) on the unofficial stats.

“On our side, we had troubles terminating,” Kiraly said. “We weren’t getting the ball to the floor much in the first and second sets, and we got out-worked. And that is not acceptable for USA, so that is why I called that timeout early in third. There will be plenty of times where we will might be out-scored on the scoreboard, but we can’t get out-efforted. The team did a nice job of picking it up in the last two. Mikaela came in and gave us some nice termination factor. We got some things going, and at least we were in the match after the third set. I am happy we made some adjustments and some improvements and upgrades, but not enough to win the match.”

Robinson was 55 percent positive receiving on 29 chances, while libero Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) was 50 percent positive on 26 chances. Larson handled 14 receptions with a 50 positive percent. Larson was unofficially credited with 16 digs and Drews had seven digs in the match.

Brazil held edges in kills (64-61) and aces (4-2) while both teams had eight blocks. Brazil took advantage of 21 errors by Team USA to its own 11 mistakes.

With such a young squad, Team USA had no expectations of where it would be heading into week four.

“A big emphasis from point one of the season was no expectations,” Drews said. “We won last year, great. But we have a lot of new people who we are trying to get comfortable, so that is great as well. I can’t say we thought we would be one place or another. 7-2 is respectable and I am excited to build on that.”

The U.S. started Larson and Robinson at outside hitter, Dixon and Rettke at middle, Drews at opposite, Poulter at setter and Courtney at libero. Mary Lake (Palm Springs, California) alternated at libero in the third and fourth sets.

The U.S. took a 10-9 lead in the opening set with consecutive Robinson kills. Brazil took the lead back at 14-12 and went into the second technical timeout leading 16-13 on a 5-1 scoring run. Brazil raised its lead to 18-14 prompting a USA timeout. Brazil extended its advantage to 20-15 leading to the Americans second timeout. The U.S. chipped off two points with Drews scoring a kill and ace followed by a Rettke kill at 20-18. Brazil scored five of the final six points to win the set 25-19.

Brazil gained the first two-point cushion of the second set at 5-3. Team USA quickly tied the set at 5-all with a Drews kill and Robinson block. Brazil answered with back-to-back points at 7-5 and jumped the advantage to 11-8 on a block. Brazil notched three straight points to raise the advantage to 15-10. Out of the second technical timeout, the U.S. cut the gap to 16-13 with a Brazil service error and Poulter block. However, Brazil turned in three straight points to go up 19-13. Rettke stopped the run with a kill and Brazil followed with an error at 19-15. Brazil stretched the lead to set points 24-16 on four unanswered points. Brazil ended the set at 25-17.

Brazil jumped to a 4-2 advantage in the third set, but Team USA quickly tied it at 4-all with a Foecke kill and Rettke block. The U.S. took an 8-6 lead into the technical timeout on a Rettke ace and Ogbogu kill after a Brazil service error. The Americans stretched the lead to 10-7 with kills from Ogbogu and Larson. Brazil chipped the deficit to 10-9 with back-to-back points. The Americans extended their lead to 13-10 with a crowd-electrifying kill from Ogbogu followed by a slam from Foecke prompting a Brazil timeout. After the break, Foecke connected for another kill to lift the Americans to a 14-10 lead. The U.S. extended the lead to 18-12 with Rettke scoring a kill and block around a Larson kill leading to Brazil second timeout. Rettke and Poulter connected for consecutive kills to inch the U.S. lead to 20-13. Brazil knocked the gap down to 20-17 with four consecutive points leading into USA’s second timeout. Brazil narrowed the deficit to two at 21-19 with back-to-back points. Ogbogu and Rettke downed kills to give Team USA set points 24-20. Brazil saved two set points before Drews ended it with a kill at 25-22.

Brazil benefited from two consecutive USA errors to go up 6-4 in the fourth set. The U.S. leveled the set at 9-all with kills from Ogbogu and Drews, but Brazil answered with consecutive points to go up 11-9. Team USA called timeout trailing 14-11 after a Brazil ace. Brazil raised its advantage to 17-13 with points on each side of the second technical timeout. Drews sliced the gap to one at 18-17 with two kills around a block prompting a Brazil timeout. Brazil answered with three quick points to go back up by four, 22-18. Foecke and Rettke responded with kills to cut the gap in half at 22-20. Brazil reached match point 24-20 on back-to-back points, then won 25-20.

U.S. Women's National Team Roster for FIVB Volleyball Nations League Week #3 – Lincoln, Nebraska
# - Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
2 – Jordyn Poulter (S, 6-2, Illinois, Aurora, Colorado)
3 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, California, Bonsall, California)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (M, 6-2, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota)
9 – Madi Kingdon Rishel (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
12 – Jordan Thompson (OPP, 6-4, Cincinnati, Edina, Minnesota)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
18 – Mikaela Foecke (OH, 6-3, Nebraska, West Point, Iowa)
20 – Dana Rettke (M, 6-8, Wisconsin, Riverside, Illinois)
23 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Manhattan Beach, California)
24 – Chiaka Ogbogu (M, 6-2, Texas, Coppell, Texas)
27 – Mary Lake (L, 5-7, BYU, Palm Springs, California)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Luka Slabe, Tama Miyashiro, Erin Virtue
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu

FIVB Volleyball Nations League Schedule - U.S. Women's National Team (All Times ET)
May 21: USA def. Belgium 25-23, 25-8, 25-22
May 22: USA def. Japan 25-21, 24-26, 25-21, 25-20
May 23: USA def. Bulgaria 25-20, 25-16, 25-21
May 28: USA def. Serbia 23-25, 25-16, 25-15, 25-21
May 29: USA def. Italy 25-22, 17-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-11
May 30: USA lost to Dominican Republic 25-10, 16-25, 25-19, 19-25, 15-11
June 4: USA def. Korea 19-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-18
June 5: USA vs. Germany (at Lincoln, Nebraska), 8:30 p.m.
June 6: USA lost to Brazil 25-19, 25-17, 22-25, 25-20
June 11: USA vs. Turkey (at Jiangmen, China), 4 a.m.
June 12: USA vs. Poland (at Jiangmen, China), 4 a.m.
June 13: USA vs. China (at Jiangmen, China), 8 a.m.
June 18: USA vs. Russia (at Ekaterinburg, Russia), 10 a.m.
June 19: USA vs. Netherlands (at Ekaterinburg, Russia), 7 a.m.
June 20: USA vs. Thailand (at Ekaterinburg, Russia), 7 a.m.

FIVB Volleyball Nations League Final Round - at Nanjing, China
July 3-7: China plus top five other countries in preliminary round