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June 13, 2019: U.S. Women Stun Host China in VNL Sweep

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 13, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Team stunned host China with a convincing 25-17, 25-22, 25-21 victory on Thursday to conclude its fourth week of FIVB Volleyball Nations League preliminary round action in Jiangmen, China.

Michelle Bartsch-Hackley hitting off the China blockThe Americans, ranked third in the world, are now 9-3 overall with 27 points in the VNL, while second-ranked China falls to 9-3 with 26 points. The U.S. plays its fifth and final preliminary round week in Ekaterinburg, Russia, where it will challenge host Russia on June 18, Netherlands on June 19 and Thailand on June 20. All Team USA matches in the VNL matches are being streamed on flovolleyball.tv.

Related: Unofficial Stats

With the victory, Team USA strengthened its chances of advancing to the VNL Finals July 3-7 in Nanjing, China. The Americans are in fourth place in the 16-team league heading into the final preliminary week, but they are only one match behind leaders Turkey and Italy in the loss column. The top five teams plus China advance to the Final Round.

The U.S. started the match strong with an 8-2 lead in the opening set and pushed the margin to 16-8, then weathered a 5-0 China run closing the gap to 17-14 before winning the set 25-17. Team USA used a key 6-0 run in the second set to reach at 16-11 advantage and went on to win 25-22. China overcame a 12-8 deficit in the third set to take the lead at 17-15, but the U.S. stormed back to win 25-21 with 10 of the final 14 points.

“Our team put together a really nice effort,” Kiraly said. “Our coaches put together a great scouting plan and our players executed it. It was by far our best and cleanest match of the tournament, even though we have had lots of good things happen in this tournament and some disappointing things also. This is a nice way to end the China leg of Volleyball Nations League.”

Team USA’s outside hitters posed problems for the Chinese all evening as Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois) and Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) combined for 40 points with 20 apiece. Bartsch-Hackley totaled 17 kills on 33 swings, two aces and a block in the victory. Robinson was dominating on offense with 18 kills on 26 attacks, one block and one ace. Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) added 13 kills on 24 attacks.

“I thought the team came out today and played really well together,” Robinson said. “There was a lot of fire from both the people on the court and the people off the court. Everyone was working together to help us ultimately win. I thought the middles did a really great job of getting up in transitions and Mary Lake did a really nice job of handling a lot of tough serves and put our offense in system."

Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas) chipped in three kills on six attacks, three blocks and three aces for nine points. Middle Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colorado) added eight points with six kills on 12 swings and two blocks. Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) rounded out the scoring with a kill and ace for two points.

Carlini set Team USA to a 56 kill percent and .465 hitting efficiency (57-10-101) in the lopsided victory. The American defense held the Chinese to a 39 kill percent and .289 hitting efficiency (35-9-90).

“Lauren Carlini really pushed the speed of our offense,” Kiraly said. “We got all three of our pin hitters, Kelsey, Bartschy and Annie – got them some great daylight.”

Unofficially, Bartsch-Hackley was credited with a 48 positive reception percent on a team-leading 25 chances. Libero Mary Lake (Palm Springs, California) handled 24 receptions with a 42 positive percent to go with 12 digs. Robinson hand nine digs and produced a 58 positive reception percent on 12 chances.

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