Women's National Team

TOKYO (July 29, 2021) – There is a saying that goes, “It’s hard to beat a team three times a season.”

The U.S. Women’s National Team found out it was hard, but not impossible, to defeat Turkey for a third time this season when it beat the European side, 3-2 (25-19, 25-20, 17-25, 20-25, 15-12) on Thursday at the Olympic Games.

The U.S. Women (3-0) will continue pool play on Saturday (July 31) against the Russian Olympic Committee team (2-1) at 7:05 p.m. PT.


The U.S. Women played Turkey twice during the FIVB Volleyball Nations League tournament earlier this summer, winning 3-1 during the preliminary round and 3-0 in the semifinals. But U.S. Head Coach Karch Kiraly did not view the victories as “easy.”

“They were both battles,” Kiraly said. “We’re used to playing long, tough matches against that team. They play us well.”

After the U.S. Women sailed to the first-set win and led the second set, Turkey made some key substitutions including outside hitter Meryem Boz for Ebrar Karakurt and setter Naz Aydemir for Cansu Özbay and caught fire.

Kiraly responded with his “game changers.” Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson made her 2020 Olympic debut playing part of the third set and all of the fourth for Bartsch-Hackley. Middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu made her Tokyo debut playing part of the fourth set and all of the fifth for starter Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson.

Opposite Annie Drews, who played briefly in the U.S. Women’s first match against Argentina, played part of the fourth set and all of the fifth for starter Jordan Thompson, scoring eight points on seven kills and one ace.

“The other four non-starters and I know that our role is to come in and change the match whether that be with energy or fresh eyes and fresh skill sets,” Drews said. “We put in some people who haven’t gotten a lot of time this tournament so far. That put a little more stress on their blocking defense.”

Drews scored five points on kills in the fifth set while middle blocker Haleigh Washington added three of her five blocks. Outside hitter and Team Captain Jordan Larson scored two point on a kill and a block.

Washington attributed Turkey’s third- and fourth-set comebacks to its improved serving and hitting off the block.

“They started to use our outside hand a lot,” Washington said. “We really had to make that adjustment, turning our outside hand in and wrapping around that block.”

Turkey led in attacks (59-57) and aces (7-4). The U.S. Women led in blocks (16-11), getting five each from Akinradewo and Washington. Jordyn Poulter set the U.S. Women to a .320 hitting efficiency while Turkey hit .306.

Thursday’s match was the first time the U.S. Women have been taken to five sets this season and it was clear the adrenalin was surging after the match.

“We loved the push. We love a fifth-set battle,” Washington said. “It’s scary, we’re tight and we’re worried, but we love the battle and the grind. We trust each other. We rely on each other. This is what we came here to do.”

Thompson led the U.S. Women with 18 points on 15 kills, two blocks and one ace. Larson scored 15 points on 12 kills, two blocks and one ace. Washington had 12 points on her seven kills and five blocks.

Libero Justine Wong Orantes was credited with 11 digs and 20 successful receptions. Bartsch-Hackley led the team with 23 successful receptions.

U.S. Women’s Roster for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Edmond, Okla., Penn State Univ.)
Jordyn Poulter (S, 6-2, Aurora, Colo., Univ. of Illinois)
Justine Wong Orantes (L, 5-6, Cypress, Calif., Univ. of Nebraska)
10 Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., Univ. of Nebraska)
11 Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Elkhart, Ind., Purdue Univ.)
12 Jordan Thompson (OPP, 6-4, Edina, Minn., Univ. of Cincinnati)
14 Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Champaign, Ill., Univ. of Illinois)
15 Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Portland, Ore., Pepperdine, Univ.)
16 Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson (M, 6-3, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Stanford Univ.)
22 Haleigh Washington (M, 6-3, Colorado Springs, Colo., Penn State Univ.)
23 Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Univ. of Nebraska)
24 Chiaka Ogbogu (M, 6-2, Coppell, Texas, Univ. of Texas)

Head Coach Karch Kiraly
Asst. Coach Erin Virtue
Asst. Coach Tama Miyashiro
Asst. Coach Luka Slabe
Performance Analyst Jeff Liu
Sport Physiologist & Team Leader Jimmy Stitz
Physical Therapist & ATC Kara Kessans
Consultant Coach Sue Enquist
Consultant Coach Marv Dunphy
Team Doctor Dr. Chris Lee
Second Scout Justin Chang

Olympic Schedule (All times PT)
Jul 24: USA def Argentina, 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-20)
July 26: USA def China, 3-0 (29-27, 25-22, 25-21)
July 29: USA def Turkey, 3-2 (25-19, 25-20, 17-25, 20-25, 15-12)
July 30 at 7:05 p.m. USA v Russian Olympic Committee
Aug. 1 at 7:05 p.m. USA v Italy
Aug. 3/4 Quarterfinals
Aug. 5/6 Semifinals
Aug. 7/8 Medal matches