U.S. Women Fall to Rival Dominican 3-2

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | May 30, 2019, 6:26 p.m. (ET)

Chiaka Ogbogu reaches high for an attack against Dominican Republic
Chiaka Ogbogu reaches high for an attack against Dominican Republic

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 30, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Team lost to NORCECA zonal rival Dominican Republic 25-10, 16-25, 25-19, 19-25, 15-11 on Thursday in Conegliano, Italy, and suffered its first loss in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

The U.S., now 5-1 with 15 points in the 2019 VNL, resumes action on home soil in Lincoln, Nebraska, next week. The Americans host Korea on June 4, followed by Germany on June 5 and Brazil on June 6. All three matches have start times of 7:30 p.m. CT at Pinnacle Bank Arena. University of Nebraska alums Jordan Larson and Kelsey Robinson are expected to return to the USA lineup in Lincoln as part of the 14-player roster. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here. All three match can be streamed live on flovolleyball.tv.

The U.S. was the last remaining undefeated team in the VNL, and is now in second place heading into Lincoln. Dominican Republic is now 3-3 with eight points for ninth place in the VNL. The VNL has 10 teams at or above .500 through the first six matches.

Related: Unofficial Stats | Info on Team USA VNL Matches in Lincoln (June 4-6)

Dominican Republic broke a 6-all tie with a 17-3 run, including a 10-0 spurt, to win 25-10. The U.S. used a 3-0 run in the second set to take an 8-6 advantage and continued that momentum the rest of the set for a 25-16 victory. Dominican Republic used a 4-0 run to break a 7-all tie and finished out the set strong with a 25-19 victory. The U.S. scored eight of the final 10 points of the fourth set to win 25-19 and force the tiebreaking fifth set. Dominican Republic built a 12-9 lead in the fifth set on the strength of a 4-0 run, then closed out the match with the final three points for a 15-11 victory.

Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas) led the American offense with 16 points, including 14 kills on 26 attacks, one block and one ace. Middle Dana Rettke (Riverside, Illinois) charted 10 kills on 21 swings, one block and one ace. Outside hitter Madi Kingdon Rishel (Phoenix, Arizona) added 11 points with nine kills and two blocks.

Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana), who came in to start the final two sets at opposite, contributed 10 kills on 18 attacks and a block for 11 points. Opposite Jordan Thompson (Edina, Minnesota) provided 10 kills and a block for 11 points. Outside Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) totaled three blocks, one ace and two kills for six points. Outside Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin) started the final two sets and scored five kills. Setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma) started the final two sets and added one kill and one ace. Jordyn Poulter (Aurora, Colorado) rounded out the scoring with a block and ace.

The Team USA setting combination of Hancock and Poulter led the Americans to a 36 kill percent as a team and a .206 hitting efficiency (59-25-164). In contrast, Dominican Republic converted 43 percent of its attacks into points with a .306 hitting efficiency (58-17-134).

Libero Mary Lake (Palm Springs, California), who was making her first-ever start for Team USA, handled 25 receptions with a 40 positive percent in the first three sets. Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio), who started the final two sets, was 80 percent positive on 10 receptions.

USA had a 61-56 advantage in kills, but Dominican Republic held margins of 15-10 in blocks and 8-5 in aces. The U.S. also committed 21 errors in the match to Dominican Republic’s 14.

The U.S. started Poulter at setter, Wilhite Parsons and Kingdon Rishel at outside hitter, Thompson at opposite, Ogbogu and Rettke at middle. Lake was the libero.

The VNL, a 16-country league for both genders, includes 15 pool play matches for each country spread over five consecutive weeks with four pods of four teams competing in round-robin action every week. The top five teams from the preliminary round will compete in the VNL Final Six along with host China from July 3-7 with the winner receiving $1 million.

Dominican Republic erupted for a 4-1 lead in the opening set, but Team USA came back to tie the set at 4-all with a Kingdon Rishel kill between two Dominican Republic errors. Dominican Republic jumped its lead to 11-6 with three blocks as part of a 5-0 run, then extended the gap to 13-7 on an ace. Dominican Republic reached a 15-point lead at 24-9 on a 10-0 run. Dominican Republic won the set 25-10 with a block.

Rettke and Ogbogu scored consecutive kills and Poulter put up a block to give the Americans an 8-6 margin at the first technical timeout of the second set. Thompson powered down consecutive kills to raise the American lead to 12-9. Team USA stretched its advantage to 17-12 with an Ogbogu block and Poulter overpass kill after a Dominican service error. Poulter served an ace after an Ogbogu kill to inch the American lead to 19-13. Ogbogu connected for consecutive kills to extend the U.S. lead to 21-14. Thompson placed a monster block between two Dominican errors to give the U.S. set points at 24-15. Team USA finished the set at 25-16 on a Dominican attack error.

Wilhite Parsons starts the third set with a block and ace to give Team USA a 2-0 lead, only to have Dominican Republic tie the set at 4-all. Dominican Republic launched a 5-0 run to take an 11-7 advantage. Ogbogu, Kingdon Rishel and Rettke scored three straight kills to close the Americans to within one at 13-12. Dominican Republic rebuilt its lead to four with three straight points prompting a USA timeout trailing 17-13. Dominican Republic served an ace to raise its margin to 19-14. Team USA whittled the gap to 20-17 with kills from Wilhite Parsons and Thompson. Dominican Republic answered with an ace to raise the margin to 22-17. Ogbogu and Kingdon Rishel downed kills to slice the deficit to 22-19. Dominican Republic scored consecutive aces to close out the set with a 25-19 victory.

The U.S. grabbed a 3-1 lead to start the fourth set, but Dominican answered by tying it at 3-3. The Americans responded with kills from Drews and Lee and Ogbogu followed with an ace for a 6-3 American lead. Dominican stopped the run with consecutive points to close to 6-5. Rettke hammered back-to-back kills to push the Americans to an 8-5 lead at the technical timeout. Dominican Republic scored back-to-back points to cut the gap to 8-7. Rettke served an ace after a Drews kill to extend the U.S. lead to 11-8. Dominican Republic pulled to within one at 16-15 with consecutive points, then tied the set at 17-all. Team USA responded with kills from Drews, Hancock and Kingdon Rishel to lift the Americans in front 20-17 at a Dominican Republic timeout. The Americans extended their lead to 22-18 with a Kingdon Rishel block and Lee power slam. Lee and Drews scored back-to-back kills to give Team USA set points at 24-19. Drews promptly ended it with a kill at 25-19.

Dominican Republic scored four straight points to stake a 6-3 lead early in the fifth set. Lee hammered a kill to stop the run and Dominican Republic followed with a miscue and Rettke put up a block putting the set square at 6-all. Out of the break, Drews slammed a kill to present the USA a 7-6 lead on a 4-0 run. Dominican Republic scored four unanswered points to take a 12-9 advantage. The U.S. answered with a Kingdon Rishel kill and Ogbogu block to close USA to 12-11. Dominican Republic reached match points at 14-11. Dominican Republic closed out the set and match at 15-11 with a 3-0 run.

U.S. Women's National Team Roster for FIVB Volleyball Nations League Week #2 in Italy
# - Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
1 – Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Penn State, Edmond, Oklahoma)
2 – Jordyn Poulter (S, 6-2, Illinois, Aurora, Colorado)
9 – Madi Kingdon Rishel (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
12 – Jordan Thompson (OPP, 6-4, Cincinnati, Edina, Minnesota)
13 – Sarah Wilhite Parsons (OH, 6-2, Minnesota, Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
19 – Hannah Tapp (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
20 – Dana Rettke (M, 6-8, Wisconsin, Riverside, Illinois)
21 – Simone Lee (OH, 6-1, Penn State, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin)
22 – Haleigh Washington (M, 6-3, Penn State, Colorado Springs, Colorado)
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
Athletic Trainer: Aimee Miyazawa
Team Manager: Matjaz Hafner

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 vs. Korea (at Lincoln, Nebraska), 8:30 p.m.
June 5: USA vs. Germany (at Lincoln, Nebraska), 8:30 p.m.
June 6: USA vs. Brazil (at Lincoln, Nebraska), 8:30 p.m.
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