BANGKOK, Thailand (July 6, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team moved one step closer to a seventh FIVB World Grand Prix title Wednesday as it defeated Netherlands 25-21, 25-17, 25-23 to open the Finals Round in Bangkok, Thailand.
Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida) led the U.S. with 16 points, including 12 kills on 17 attacks, three blocks and an ace. Outside hitters Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) and Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) each scored 10 points in the victory. Larson contributed all her points on kills via 24 attacks. Hill produced seven kills on 20 swings, two blocks and an ace.
Team USA, the defending World Grand Prix champions, is idle on Thursday before concluding its three-team pool on Friday against China. The U.S. swept second-ranked China to conclude the preliminary round phase on June 26 in Hong Kong. Both teams finished the preliminary round 8-1, but the Americans earned the top seed in the Finals over China based on standings points tiebreaker. China was the only team to defeat the U.S. in the prelims, a four-set match on June 12 in Ningbo, China. Ironically, the U.S. will face both World Grand Prix Finals Pool B opponents Netherlands and China in the Olympic Games Pool B next month.
The FIVB World Grand Prix is the premier annual international women’s volleyball tournament now in its 24th edition. All USA matches during the FIVB World Grand Prix Finals can be watched live on delayed basis on NBC Sports Live Extra (http://www.nbcsports.com/live) at 2 p.m. ET. The USA-Netherlands match can be seen on Universal HD at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
After Netherlands recovered from a four-set deficit in the opening set to tie the score at 19-all, the U.S. answered with six of the final eight points for a 25-21 victory as Akinradewo scored three points in the run. The Netherlands started the second set with a 5-1 lead, but the U.S. came back to level the score at 10-all before going on a 9-1 run breaking a 16-all tie to end the set at 25-17. Team USA recovered from a 14-10 deficit in the third set by scoring eight of the next nine points to take an 18-15 lead en route to a 25-23 victory.
Middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) chipped in nine points in the victory over Netherlands as she scored eight kills on 14 swings and a block. Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) turned in five kills on 20 attacks and a block for six points. Karsta Lowe (Rancho Sante Fa, California), who was the double-sub opposite in all three sets, had four kills on nine swings and a block. Alisha Glass (Leland, Michigan) rounded out the scoring with a block.
Libero Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, California) was credited with a team-high five digs and six excellent receptions on 25 chances. Hill contributed four excellent receptions in the victory.
Team USA converted 43.5 percent of its attacks into points with a .306 hitting efficiency (47-14-108) as Glass had 27 running sets on 72 set attempts. Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) was credited with seven running sets on 14 chances as the setter in the double-sub.
The U.S. managed a 48-30 advantage in kills and held a slim 8-7 margin in blocks to offset Netherlands’ 7-2 lead in aces. The American defense limited Netherlands to a 26.3 kill percent and a .114 hitting efficiency (30-17-114).
Earlier in the preliminary round phase, the U.S. defeated Netherlands 25-17, 19-25, 25-17, 25-20 on June 25 in Hong Kong.
The top two teams in each pool advance to the crossover semifinals on July 9. The Finals Round concludes on July 10 with the medal round matches and the fifth-place match between the pool’s two third-place teams. The U.S. has won four of the past six World Grand Prix titles, including last year’s on home soil in Omaha, Nebraska.
The U.S. has now won 22 of its last 24 World Grand Prix matches with both losses at the hands of China in pool play in 2015 and 2016. Overall, the Americans have won their last six World Grand Prix matches.
The World Grand Prix serves as the last major event for teams qualified to the 2016 Olympic Games to fine tune their systems. All but Thailand competing in the World Grand Prix Finals have qualified for the Olympic Games next month.
Team USA gave up the first point of the opening set, but went up 3-1 with kills from Adams and Hill after a Netherlands service error. Netherlands came back to tie the set at 4-all. Hill slammed a kill over the block after a Netherlands service error to give the U.S. a 6-4 edge. Team USA reached the first technical timeout up 8-5 after Larson found open space on a roll shot and Netherlands hit long. The U.S. extended the lead to 10-6 with an Akinradewo kill and Netherlands error. Netherlands sliced its deficit in half at 14-12 with back-to-back points. Team USA regained a four-point cushion at 17-13 with kills from Akinradewo and Lowe on both sides of the second technical timeout prompting a Netherlands timeout. Netherlands quickly moved to within one at 18-17 with three unanswered points leading to a USA timeout. Netherlands leveled the score at 19-all on a block. Adams stopped the run with a power slam, followed by a Netherlands hit into the net and Akinradewo block to put the Americans in the lead 22-19. Out of a Netherlands timeout, Akinradewo picked up another block and Netherlands hit wide to put the U.S. at set point 24-19. After Netherlands saved two set points, Akinradewo ended the set with a quick kill at 25-21. Akinradewo tallied four points in the set.
Netherlands scored three consecutive aces as part of a 5-0 run to start the second set up 5-1. Adams and Hill ended the run with kills to close the gap to 5-3. Akinradewo slammed a kill off the block after a Netherlands service error to cut the U.S. deficit to 6-5. Netherlands regained a three-point edge at 9-6 with back-to-back points. Larson won consecutive busted plays with kills to narrow the gap to 9-8. Team USA tied the set at 10-all with an Adams kill and Netherlands attack error. Netherlands answered with a kill and ace that trickled off the net for a 12-10 lead. Murphy tied the score at 13-all with a cross-court winner after a Netherlands error. Hill slammed consecutive kills to give the Americans a 15-14 lead. Team USA went up 18-16 with an Akinradewo kill and Lowe block leading into a Netherlands timeout. Out of the timeout, Lowe pounded a kill and Akinradewo served an ace at 20-16 as part of a 4-0 scoring run. Out of Netherlands second timeout, Adams put up a block and Netherlands hit wide to lift the U.S. in front 22-16 on a 6-0 run. Larson gave the U.S. set points at 24-17 with a kill after a Netherlands error. Larson immediately scored the final point on a dink at 25-17.
Netherlands took a 7-5 advantage in the third set. The U.S. squared the set at 8-all with a Larson kill and Murphy block, but Netherlands answered quickly with a 4-1 run to take a 12-9 advantage. Netherlands extended its lead to 14-10, but Akinradewo answered with a kill and consecutive blocks to close the gap to 14-13. Team USA knotted the score at 15-all on consecutive Netherlands errors and Hill served an ace to lift the U.S. in front 16-15 at the second technical timeout. Akinradewo added a kill and Netherlands hit into the net to put the Americans up 18-15 on a 5-0 run. The U.S. gained a four-point cushion at 20-16 with kills from Akinradewo and Lowe, but Netherlands responded to cutting the gap down to a single point at 21-20. Team USA ended the set with an Akinradewo kill at 25-23.