COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 28, 2019) – Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) scored a match-high 22 points in leading the U.S. Women’s National Team to a 23-25, 25-16, 25-15, 25-21 victory on Tuesday afternoon in Conegliano, Italy, to remain undefeated in FIVB Volleyball Nations League competition.
The U.S., now 4-0 in the 2019 VNL, resumes action next on May 29 versus host Italy followed by Dominican Republic on May 30. Serbia, reigning FIVB World Champions and ranked No. 1 in the world, is now 2-2 after the first four matches.
Serbia won the opening set, benefiting from a 6-1 run to go up 20-16 and held off the Americans down the stretch for a 25-23 win. In the second set, the U.S. advanced to an 11-6 lead on a 7-1 run and cruised into a 25-16 victory. After trailing 4-1 in the opening stages of the third set, Team USA used runs of 5-0 and 6-0 as part of a 13-2 overall spurt to gain a 14-6 advantage en route to a 25-15 victory. The fourth set remained close throughout until the Americans clawed to a 20-16 advantage and held the four-point edge to a 25-21 victory.
“I am really happy with how our team responded. We weren’t very clean in the first set,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “Even though we had a chance to maybe tie it up at 24-all, we really didn’t deserve that one. We improved a lot as the match went on, and that is our big goal – learn to improve, not only from match-to-match but from play-to-play. We are developing some nice options, including Annie out of the back row and our other opposites. We are excited to see that our offense is becoming more multi-dimensional and lots of service pressure. A lot of good things happening with this young group that has a great energy, plays hard and plays together.”
Drews collected 19 kills on 29 attacks and three blocks for her 22 points. Middles Dana Rettke (Riverside, Illinois) and Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colorado) combined for 30 points and converted 16 of their total 22 attacks. Rettke hammered 11 kills on 15 swings to go with three blocks and an ace. Washington turned in five kills on seven attacks, five blocks and five aces.
“I thought this team showed a lot of fight and a lot of grit in the match,” Rettke said. “I remember one play in specific when Madi Kingdon made an out-of-body dig. It kind of set the tone for our defense for the rest of the match and got us going with a lot of energy. I think we played really well together as a team, and that was a big emphasis going into this match. That was a really good team and a really good fight that we had, and I am really proud of our team.”
Outside hitter Madi Kingdon Rishel (Phoenix, Arizona) pocketed 13 points with nine kills, three blocks and an ace. Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) chalked up six kills, two aces and a block. Setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma) rounded out the Team USA scoring with two kills, one block and one ace for four points.
Hancock set Team USA to a 45 kill percent and .393 hitting efficiency (48-6-107). The American defense held Serbia to a 37 kill percent and .154 hitting efficiency (45-26-123).
Wilhite Parsons was unofficially credited with a 33 positive reception percent on 39 chances. Kingdon Rishel added nine digs and 17 reception as part of a 41 positive reception percent. Libero Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) had 11 digs and 11 receptions. Drews unofficially had seven digs in the victory.
The U.S. dominated the net with a 16-2 block advantage. Team USA also held a 10-5 margin in aces and a 52-46 edge in kills.
The U.S. started Hancock at setter, Wilhite Parsons and Kingdon Rishel at outside hitter, Drews at opposite, Rettke and Washington at middle. Courtney was the libero.
Serbia started the fourth set with a 5-3 advantage on the strength of a 3-0 run. Team USA went up 6-5 with a Kingdon Rishel kill, Serbia error and Rettke block. The U.S. upped its lead to 13-10 with Drews and Kingdon Rishel kills and Serbia error. Rettke hammered a slide and followed up with a block to extend the American lead to 16-12. The Americans worked to a 23-17 lead on a Kingdon Rishel kill and Rettke block after a Serbia service error. Serbia went on a 3-0 run to close to within 23-20. Kingdon Rishel finished the match with a kill at 25-21.
As part of the VNL, Team USA will then host No. 9 Korea on June 4, No. 13 Germany on June 5 and No. 4 Brazil on June 6 in Lincoln, Nebraska. All three matches in Lincoln will be played at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.
Team USA opened the first set with a 4-1 advantage, including a Wilhite Parsons ace and Washington block. However, Serbia bounced back to tie the set at 5-all. Serbia took its first lead at 10-9, and the U.S. took the lead back at 15-14 with back-to-back kills from Kingdon Rishel and Drews after the teams traded eight side outs. However, Serbia quickly went on a 4-0 run to stake an 18-15 advantage and raised the margin to 20-16. The Americans cut the gap in half at 20-18 with a Drews kill and Washington ace. Serbia answered with back-to-back points at 22-18. Rettke put up a block after a Serbia error to close the Americans to within two, 23-21. Team USA moved to within one at 24-23 with a Rettke kill and Serbia error, but the European side finished the set at 25-23.
The Americans reached the first technical timeout of the set with an 8-6 advantage after going on a 4-1 run that included two Rettke kills. Out of the break, Washington and Hancock put up blocks and Drews slammed a kill to raise the Team USA lead to 11-6 prompting Serbia to call timeout after yielding a 7-1 run. Wilhite Parsons scored a kill and ace on back-to-back plays to lift the Americans to a 14-8 lead. Washington put Team USA into the second technical timeout up 16-9 with an ace after a Serbia service error. The U.S. extended its lead to 19-10 with a Drews kill, Kingdon Rishel block and Serbia error. Serbia closed the gap to 19-12 following an ace. Rettke pounded a kill and followed with an ace to shift the American lead to 22-13. Team USA closed the set at 25-16 on a Serbia service error.
Serbia started the third set with a 4-1 advantage. Washington served three aces after a kill and a Kingdon Rishel added a kill to give Team USA a 6-4 advantage on a 5-0 run. Rettke pushed the Americans up 8-5 with a kill and block. The U.S. widened its lead to 12-6 with kills from Kingdon Rishel, Drews and Rettke around a Rettke block. Out of a Serbia timeout, Kingdon Rishel served an ace and Drews hammered a kill capping six unanswered points and 12-2 run. Serbia stopped the run with consecutive points, but the Americans answered with three unanswered points with a Hancock ace sandwiched by a Washington kill and Serbia error at 18-9. Team USA ended the set on a 4-1 run, capped by a Washington block.