EBOLI, Italy (July 7, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Team – World University Games squad (WCNT – WUG) wrapped up the group phase at the 2019 Summer Universiade Sunday, falling to Japan 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-23) at PalaSele in Eboli, Italy.
“A good showing from Japan, taking the match 3-0. Congratulations to them and good luck in the next half of the tournament,” said Keegan Cook, head coach of WCNT – WUG. “We got better throughout the match. Every set score was closer, and certainly we had a chance to take the third and push it to four or five. Japan executed what we had seen on film, and they did it really well. I would have liked to see our block make some adjustments earlier to some of their attack combinations that maybe our athletes aren’t used to seeing, but it took us a little bit too long.”
In the first two sets, Japan pulled out of range of the U.S. near the middle of the frames, but in the third, the U.S. kept contact throughout. The Americans actually led or were tied in the third set until a three-point Japanese run brought the frame’s first lead change at 15-14 in favor of Japan. The U.S. forced two more ties and pulled back within a point at 24-23, but Japan claimed the final point and the match 3-0.
“Great service pressure from Japan as well, and I thought that we managed that as well as we could with various personnel helping out,“ said Cook. “Meghan McClure and Adanna Rollins stepped up in serve receive. Also, shoutout to opposite Audriana Fitzmorris for being flexible and playing on the outside in that final set. She was a big reason why we had a chance to steal it.”
McClure tallied three serve receptions during the match, and Rollins added one. Libero Lauren Barnes led the U.S. in the category with 13, and Kara Bajema handled seven.
For the second consecutive day, opposite Stephanie Samedy led the team in scoring with nine kills and a pair of blocks for 11 total points. Bajema, an outside hitter from Washington, added nine points, eight on the attack, and Fitzmorris scored seven throughout the match. In all, seven different Americans landed at least one kill, and six scored via the block.
With the loss, the U.S. ends group play with a 1-2 record and three points, good for third place in Group D. They’ll now move into the 9-16 Quarterfinals round, which will begin Tuesday, July 9. The U.S. will face Ukraine, who finished fourth in Group B, in a 2:30 p.m. local/8:30 a.m. Eastern contest at PalaCoscioni in Nocera, Italy.
“We’re looking forward to the next grouping,” said WCNT – WUG assistant coach Beth Launiere. “Tomorrow’s our day off. We’re going to train for 90 minutes, and the players are anxious to get into the gym and keep getting better.”