U.S. Women Overwhelm Kenya in World Cup Opener

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org | Sept. 14, 2019, 12:01 a.m. (ET)

U.S. Women's National Team at FIVB World Cup
U.S. Women's National Team at FIVB World Cup

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 13, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team opened the FIVB World Cup by over-powering Kenya 25-14, 25-20, 25-14 on Saturday in Hamamatsu, Japan.

The U.S. opened the match with a 9-0 advantage and went on to win the first set 25-14. Kenya stayed close in the second, trailing only 20-17 before the Americans finished off the set at 25-20. After Kenya closed to 13-10 in the third set, Team USA rolled off an 8-1 run to stake a 21-11 advantage en route to a 25-14 victory.

Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) led Team USA with 14 points with 12 kills on 22 attacks and two aces. Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) chipped in 10 kills on 22 swings and two aces for 12 points. Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) contributed 10 kills on 19 attacks, one block and one ace for 12 points.

Related: Unofficial Team Stats | Official FIVB Stats

“I think we are just trying to get better every day,” said Larson, who is serving as the American captain. “Obviously we were trying to come out with a lot of energy, and I think we did that. We kind of slowed down in the second set, but we finished strong in the third set. I am really proud of our team.”

Team USA continues the World Cup on Sunday against defending World Champion Serbia with a 1 a.m. ET match start. The FIVB World Cup matches will be streamed live on FloVolleyball.tv.

“Serbia is a great team,” Larson said. “I have many friends from there. We are just excited to compete and get better. It will be a great match tomorrow.”

Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas) hammered eight kills on nine attacks to go with a team-leading four blocks for 12 points in the American win over Kenya. Middle Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colorado) pocketed four kills on six swings. Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California), who entered the final two sets as the opposite in the double switch, slammed three kills on four attacks. Setter Jordyn Poulter (Aurora, Colorado) rounded out the scoring with a block and ace for two points.

The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team opened the FIVB World Cup by over-powering Kenya 25-14, 25-20, 25-14 on...

Posted by USA Volleyball on Friday, September 13, 2019

Unofficially, Robinson handled 20 receptions without an error and a 65 positive reception percent. Larson was 64 percent positive on 14 chances and added nine digs. Libero Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) was unofficially credited with a 55 positive reception percent on 11 chances to go with six digs. Poulter turned in seven digs.

Team USA converted 54 percent of its attacks into points with a .412 hitting efficiency (46-11-85) with Poulter handled the bulk of the setting. The Americans held Kenya to a 35 kill percent and .146 hitting efficiency.

The Americans held a 6-4 margin in blocks and 6-2 edge in aces. Team USA had a 47-29 advantage in kills. The U.S. held its errors to 13 for the match.

The World Cup is a 12-team round-robin tournament played over 16 days in Japan.

Team USA earned its bid to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in early August, and the World Cup in Japan serves precursor to a return trip 10 months from now.

“This is great preparation for us,” Larson said. “Being in Japan, this is good practice. We are just excited to be here. We love Japan.”

Team USA is the only country to have medaled in each of the last four World Cups. The Americans won silver in 2011 and bronze in 2003, 2007 and 2015. The 2015 World Cup podium finishes replicated the 2016 Olympic Games results – China winning the event with Serbia claiming silver and USA bronze.

The U.S. started Larson and Robinson at outside hitter, Ogbogu and Washington at middle, Drews at opposite, Poulter at setter and Courtney at libero. Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) was sub in the final two sets as the setter in the double switch.

The U.S. opened the first set with a 9-0 lead on Poulter’s serve as Larson and Drews each scored two kills apiece. Kenya answered with four unanswered points at 9-4. Team USA answered with kills from Drews, Robinson and Ogbogu as part of a 4-0 run to go up 13-4. The American advantage reached 22-10 as Larson powered down two kills in a 4-0 run. Drews and Robinson scored kills on the final two points of set one for a 25-14 victory.

After trailing 5-3 in the second set, the U.S. charged in front 7-5 with blocks from Poulter and Larson around a Robinson ace. Kenya leveled the set at 7-all with consecutive points. The U.S. increased its lead to 14-10 on a 4-1 run that included two Drews kills and a Larson ace. Lowe powered down consecutive kills to expand the Team USA lead to 17-12. Kenya battled back to within three at 20-17. Robinson and Washington downed kills to end the set at 25-20.

The Americans reached the third set’s first technical timeout up 8-4 after a 4-0 that included kills from Washington, Drews and Robinson. Out of the break Robinson pounded two more kills and Drews served an ae to expand the American lead to 11-4 on an 8-0 run. Kenya ended the run with three unanswered points to close to 11-7 and moved to within three at 13-10. The Americans answered with a Larson block and Robinson back-row kill after a Kenya service ace to go in front 16-10 at the second technical timeout. Poulter served an ace out of the timeout to increase the lead to 17-10. Team USA reached a 21-11 lead after a Larson kill capped a 4-0 run. Lowe ended the match with a kill at 25-14.

U.S. Women's National Team Roster for 2019 FIVB World Cup
# - Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
2 – Jordyn Poulter (S, 6-2, Illinois, Aurora, Colorado)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Champaign, Illinois)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Portland, Oregon)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
19 – Hannah Tapp (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
22 – Haleigh Washington (M, 6-3, Penn State, Colorado Springs, Colorado)
23 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Manhattan Beach, California)
24 – Chiaka Ogbogu (M, 6-2, Texas, Coppell, Texas)
25 – Karsta Lowe (OPP, 6-4, UCLA, Rancho Santa Fe, California)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Luka Slabe, Tama Miyashiro, Erin Virtue, Marv Dunphy
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Team Leader: Jimmy Stitz

FIVB World Cup Schedule of U.S. Women’s National Team Matches

In Hamamatsu, Japan
Sept. 14: USA def. Kenya 25-14, 25-20, 25-14
Sept. 15: USA vs. Serbia, 1 a.m. ET
Sept. 16: USA vs. Argentina, 1 a.m. ET
Sept. 18: USA vs. Netherlands, 1 a.m. ET
Sept. 19: USA vs. Brazil, 5 a.m. ET

In Sapporo, Japan
Sept. 22: USA vs. Japan, 6:20 a.m. ET
Sept. 23: USA vs. China, 2 a.m. ET
Sept. 23: USA vs. Dominican Republic, 11:30 p.m. ET (played on Sept. 24 in Japan)

In Osaka, Japan
Sept. 27: USA vs. Russia, 5 a.m. ET
Sept. 28: USA vs. Cameroon, 1 a.m. ET
Sept. 28: USA vs. Korea, 10 p.m. ET (played on Sept. 29 in Japan)