U.S. Women's National Team celebrating a point in win over Bulgaria.
U.S. Women's National Team Celebrating Point in Win Over Bulgaria

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 28, 2023) – The U.S. Women’s National Team used a dominating block to improve to 9-1 in Volleyball Nations League (VNL) preliminary round play with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-17) victory over Bulgaria in Suwon, Korea.

The U.S. team, ranked No. 1 in the world, has a day off before facing Germany (7-3) on July 1 at 1:30 a.m. PT.

Opposite Jordan Thompson led the U.S. with 16 points on 11 kills with a .409 hitting efficiency, four blocks, and a service ace. Outside hitter Kara Bajema totaled 14 points on six kills and team-bests of five blocks and three aces. The U.S. finished the match with a 16-6 advantage in blocks and a 7-3 edge in aces.

Setter Lauren Carlini made her 2023 VNL debut, running the offense while also leading the team with 10 digs and adding two blocks. “I think it was good to reflect what we just did against Poland (a five-set win the day before), a big battle, a big fight against a great team, and knowing we had to flip the switch. It helps having 14 great players on the team where we can switch everyone in and out and it is pretty seamless,” she said.

Outside hitter Kathryn Plummer finished with six kills, five successful receptions, and two aces. Middle blockers Anna Stevenson Hall (three kills, three blocks, one ace) and Brionne Butler (three kills, two blocks) combined for six kills, five blocks, and an ace.

The U.S. block was consistent throughout the match with at least five blocks in each set. “Our blockers have been working a lot the past couple weeks, both at home and on the road, just for wrapping and being really solid for our defense. I feel like we’ve been upgrading that every week. It’s been working for us and hopefully we can keep it rolling,” stated Carlini, who was thrilled to make her first start. “I get chills just even thinking about it. This group of women and all the women we train with at home are so special. We all care about each other deeply and want the best for each other no matter who is playing or who is on the bench.”

Volleyball Nations League is the world’s premier annual international indoor volleyball tournament. The top 16 teams in the world play four matches a week for three weeks of preliminary competition. The top eight teams at the end of the preliminaries will go to the Final Round

The United States will host the 2023 Women’s VNL Final Round on July 12-16 at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, which means the U.S. automatically qualifies.

Get tickets for the final round at tickets.volleyballworld.com/arlington.

 U.S. Women’s Preliminary Roster for 2023 VNL
No. Name (Pos., Ht., Hometown, College, USAV Region)

Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Edmond, Okla., Penn State Univ., Oklahoma)
Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Cypress, Calif., Univ. of Nebraska, Southern California)
Ali Frantti (OH, 6-1, Spring Grove, Ill., Penn State, Great Lakes)
Morgan Hentz (L, 5-9, Lakeside Park, Ky., Stanford Univ., Pioneer)
Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, Aurora, Ill., Univ. of Wisconsin, Great Lakes)
Brionne Butler (MB, 6-4, Kendleton, Texas, Univ. of Texas, Lone Star)
11 Annie Drews (Opp, 6-4, Elkhart, Ind., Purdue Univ., Hoosier)
12 Jordan Thompson (Opp, 6-4, Edina, Minn., Univ. of Cincinnati, North Country)
14 Anna Stevenson Hall (MB, 6-2, Laurens S.C., Univ. of Louisville, Palmetto)
15 Haleigh Washington (MB, 6-3, Colorado Springs, Colo., Penn State Univ., Rocky Mountain)
16 Dana Rettke (MB, 6-8, Riverside, Ill., Univ. of Wisconsin, Great Lakes)
18 Kara Bajema (OH, 6-2, Lynden, Wash., Univ. of Washington, Puget Sound)
22 Kathryn Plummer (OH, 6-6, Aliso Viejo, Calif., Stanford, Southern California)
23 Kelsey (Robinson) Cook (OH, 6-2, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Univ. of Nebraska, Southern California)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coach: Tama Miyashiro
Second Assistant Coaches: Alfee ReftErin Virtue
Performance Analyst: Rianne Verhoek
Physical Therapist/Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Team Doctor: Eugene Yim
Team Manager: Coley Pawlikowski
Sports Dietitian: Shawn Hueglin

U.S. Women’s Schedule for the 2023 VNL
All matches will be broadcast on volleyballworld.tv

Week 1 at Antalya, Türkiye
May 31: USA def. Serbia 3-2 (25-20, 19-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-12)
June 2: USA def. Italy 3-2 (25-16, 14-25, 22-25, 25-20, 15-9)
June 3: USA def. Korea 3-0 (25-16, 27-25, 25-11)
June 4: USA def. Türkiye 3-2 (25-22, 25-22, 22-25, 11-25, 15-9)

Week 2 at Brasilia, Brazil
June 13 USA def. Croatia 3-1 (17-22, 25-22, 25-18, 25-15)
June 15 USA def. Thailand 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-16)
June 17 Japan def. USA 3-2 (23-25, 25-23, 25-19, 23-25, 15-6)
June 18 USA def Brazil 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-22)

Week 3 (all times PT) at Suwon, Korea
June 27 USA def Poland 3-2 (17-25, 25-15, 27-25, 28-30, 16-14)
June 28 USA def Bulgaria 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-17)
July 1 at 1:30 a.m. USA vs Germany
July 2 at 1:30 a.m. USA vs China

Final Round on July 12-16 at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas