COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 6, 2020) – As the decade has shifted into the 2020s, here is a look back on some of the highlights from the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team over the last 10 years.
- 2014 FIVB World Championship
- Only Country to Win Two Olympic Women’s Indoor Medals in 2010s
- VNL Gold x2
- Winning World Grand Prix Finals on Home Soil
- Qualifying for the Olympics on Home Soils – Twice
- Run of World Grand Prix Success to Start Decade
- USA Volleyball Cup
- Cornhusker State Provide Nice Home Environment
- Two Tournament Golds in Colorado Springs, Olympic City USA
- Tournament Medals Won in 2010s
- Record for the Decade
World Championship Title
For sure, the U.S. Women’s National Team capturing its first-ever FIVB World Championship was among the top moments over the last decade. Team USA had never won a major triple crown event (Olympic Games, FIVB World Championship, FIVB World Cup) in its history, coming so close on multiple occasions.
The Americans made history by defeating China 3-1 in the gold-medal match in Milan, Italy, but the title did not come without tense moments along the way. The U.S. sped through the preliminary rounds with an 8-0 record. In the final prelim match, Brazil defeated the U.S. 3-0 as both teams rested starters as each country had secured Final Six advancement.
The Americans opened the Final Six with a 3-0 setback to host Italy. Facing elimination from the World Championship, Team USA dealt Russia a 3-1 loss to earn a spot in the semifinals against long-time rival Brazil. The U.S. picked apart Brazil for a 25-18, 29-27, 25-20 victory to earn a spot in the finals.
The U.S. recovered from an early 6-2 deficit to China in the gold-medal match’s opening set to win 27-25. The Americans then went up 2-0 with a 25-20 second set. China roared back to take the third set 25-16 and went up 22-19 in the fourth set after scoring seven straight points. The Americans countered by scoring seven of the final 11 points to win the set 26-24 and the match. Kim Hill, who was named most valuable player of the World Championship in just her second year playing international volleyball, scored the final kill of the match.
“I can’t find the words,” said Alisha Glass, who was named Best Setter. “I am incredibly proud of this team, of the USA Volleyball organization, everybody that played a part. It was such a team win. We did something that’s never been done. This is only the beginning. We’re going to get better and better.”
Only Country to Win Two Olympic Women’s Indoor Medals in 2010s
The U.S. Women reached the Olympic Games podium twice in this decade, claiming silver in 2012 in London and bronze in 2016 in Rio. Team USA is the only country to have earned two Olympic medals the past decade in women’s indoor volleyball.
The Americans looked like they were on the verge of their first Olympic Games gold medal at the 2012 London Games. They went undefeated in the preliminary round, losing just two sets in five matches. The U.S. then defeated Dominican Republic 3-1 in the knock-out quarterfinals, then swept Korea in the semifinals. In the gold-medal match, Team USA dominated Brazil 25-11 in the opening set, but the South American rival rallied to win the match in four sets.
Much like the 2012 Olympics, Team USA went undefeated in the 2016 Rio Games preliminary round while facing what turned out to be the tougher side of the bracket with all of Pool B winning quarterfinal matches over Pool A. After the U.S. defeated Japan 3-0 in the quarterfinals, the Americans faced a challenging Serbian squad in the semifinals. The U.S. opened the match with a 25-20 victory, but middle Foluke Akinradewo went down with an injury in the match and did not return. Serbia went into the fourth set with a 2-1 lead, only to have the U.S. force the match to a deciding fifth set. The Americans lead the fifth set 9-6, but Serbia charged back to win 15-13.
Team USA overcame the heart-breaking loss by defeating Netherlands 3-1 in the bronze-medal match as Akinradewo returned to the court and provided a lift. “Our team dealt with some real pain and heartache, heartbreak, a couple of days ago,” U.S. Olympic Women’s Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said immediately after the match. “I’m incredibly proud of how within hours they were preparing, carrying that heartbreak, but preparing to be good and to finish strong. I also never had any understanding of how good a bronze medal could feel, and it feels incredible right now. We’re so happy to finish this tournament on this note.”
VNL Gold x2
The FIVB rebranded its FIVB World Grand Prix property with the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in 2018. In its first two editions, the U.S. Women have captured gold and the $1 million top prize. In the 2018 inaugural edition, the U.S. finished with a 17-2 record and defeated Turkey 3-2 in the title match after coming back from a 2-1 deficit. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley was selected the most valuable player of the 2018 VNL. The Americans retained their VNL title in 2019 with a 16-3 record. Team USA won the 2019 gold medal by rallying from a two-set deficit to defeat Brazil. Annie Drews was named the most valuable player in the 2019 VNL.
Winning World Grand Prix Finals on Home Soil
The U.S. Women hosted their first-ever FIVB World Grand Prix Finals Round in 2015, and gave thousands of fans in Omaha and millions of others watching on NBC something to cheer about.
Team USA went undefeated in the 2015 World Grand Prix Finals Round, including a 15-2 overall set record with wins over Brazil and China on the final two days of the round-robin event. The Americans were so impressive that they clinched the title on day four over Brazil with a straight-set win. The U.S. did not let up on the final day in sweeping China 3-0 in front of 8,500 fans. Karsta Lowe was presented with the most valuable player award as she was competing in her first international tournament.
Qualifying for the Olympics on Home Soil – Twice
The U.S. does not get an automatic place into the Olympic Games unless it is the host nation. Hence, Team USA needed to qualify for the 2012, 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games by other means. For the 2012 Olympics, the Americans secured their ticket to London by placing second in the 2011 FIVB World Cup in Japan.
For the 2016 Olympic Games, the U.S. was given the responsibility to host the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament in January of 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. With its players returning mid-season from their pro seasons, Team USA came together quickly and claimed the title and ticket to Rio after sweeping Dominican Republic in the final match on a frigid sub-zero day in Lincoln. Yet, 10,231 fans battled the elements to cheer on the red, white and blue.
In 2019, the FIVB awarded the U.S. hosting rights for one of six Tokyo Qualification Tournaments with the winner earning a berth to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Playing in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana, Team USA swept Kazakhstan on the opening day, then faced a major uphill battle with an Olympic berth on the line. The Americans fell behind Bulgaria 2-1 before winning the fourth and fifth sets 25-20 and 15-10 in front of a boisterous crowd of 4,000. The U.S. went on to sweep Argentina on Aug. 4 in front of 4,200 fans to earn its ticket to Tokyo.
Run of World Grand Prix Success to Start Decade
As the U.S. Women enjoyed loads of success in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League to end the decade, they also pulled in gold after gold after gold in the tournament’s predecessor to start the decade. The Americans won the 2010, 2011 and 2012 FIVB World Grand Prix – with a different player leading the team each year and earning the most valuable player honor.
In 2010, the U.S. Women won all five of its WGP Finals Round matches to go 12-2 overall in the event. Foluke Akinradewo was named the WGP most valuable player. In 2011, the U.S. Women went 8-1 in the preliminary round and advanced to the Final Round semifinals after falling to Brazil in the final prelim match. Team USA went on to defeat both Serbia and Brazil 3-0 in the semifinals and gold-medal match, respectively. Destinee Hooker was tabbed as the 2011 WGP most valuable player. The Americans stormed through the 2012 World Grand Prix with a perfect 14-0 record. Megan Hodge Easy was named the most valuable player of the tournament.
USA Volleyball Cup
USA Volleyball initiated the USA Volleyball Cup in 2013 as a means to bring top international competition to the United States as most international tournaments were held in Europe and Asia. The event was played in four years during the decade with international powers China, Brazil and Japan competing against the stars of Team USA. The Americans swept a three-match series with Japan in 2013 in Southern California. The U.S. brought in Brazil in 2014 and the Americans won all four matches with two matches each in Honolulu and Southern California. Team USA hosted China in the third year with each team winning two matches in the four-match series split over Honolulu and Southern California in 2015. After a year break, the U.S. hosted Brazil a second team in Anaheim with each team winning a match in 2017.
Cornhusker State Provides Nice Home Environment
Team USA made five trips to the state of Nebraska, drawing large crowds in each event. Along with winning the FIVB World Grand Prix on home soil in 2015 in Omaha, the Americans captured gold in the 2013 NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship in Omaha and the 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament in Lincoln. The U.S. Women hosted their 2018 and 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League domestic matches in Lincoln.
Two Tournament Golds in Colorado Springs
The U.S. Women’s National Team won two golds while playing in Colorado Springs, Olympic City USA. The American won the 2014 NORCECA World Championship Qualification Tournament and the 2019 NORCECA Champions Cup while competing at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center.
The U.S. Women reached the podium in 36 out of 43 tournaments during the last decade, including 19 gold medals.
2019 (5): Gold – FIVB Volleyball Nations League; Pan American Cup; NORCECA Champions Cup; Silver – FIVB World Cup, NORCECA Championship
2018 (2): Gold – FIVB Volleyball Nations League; Pan American Cup
2017 (2): Gold – Pan American Cup; Bronze – FIVB World Grand Champions Cup
2016 (4): Gold – NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament; Silver – FIVB World Grand Prix; Bronze – Olympic Games; Pan American Cup
2015 (5): Gold – FIVB World Grand Prix; NORCECA Championship; Pan American Games; Pan American Cup; Bronze – FIVB World Cup
2014 (4): Gold – FIVB World Championship; NORCECA World Championship Qualification Tournament; Silver – Pan American Cup; Montreux Volley Masters
2013 (3): Gold – NORCECA Championship; Pan American Cup; Silver – FIVB World Grand Champions Cup
2012 (3): Gold – FIVB World Grand Prix; Pan American Cup; Silver – Olympic Games
2011 (5): Gold – FIVB World Grand Prix; NORCECA Championship; Silver – FIVB World Cup; Bronze – Pan American Games; Pan American Cup
2010 (3): Gold – FIVB World Grand Prix; Silver – Montreux VolleyMasters; Bronze – Pan American Cup
Record for the Decade
The U.S. Women compiled a 319-72 record between 2010-2019 for an 81.6 winning percent. Twice Team USA won at least 40 matches in a season with the 2019 season having the most victories at 44. The 2012 team compiled a 93.8 winning percent (30-2) for the highest mark in the decade.