BOSSIER CITY, Louisiana (Aug. 4, 2019) – 2020 Olympic Games here we come!
The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team defeated Argentina 25-22, 25-17, 25-13 on Sunday in Bossier City, Louisiana, to go undefeated in the Tokyo Women’s Volleyball Qualification Tournament Pool C and secure its berth into the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Team USA, ranked third in the world, defeated No. 23 Kazakhstan in straight sets on Friday and came from behind to down No. 16 Bulgaria in five thrilling sets on Saturday before today’s win over No. 11 Argentina. The U.S. is the only country to reach the podium in women’s indoor volleyball in each of the last three Olympic Games.
“We can be really proud with how we fought through here, especially the challenge that Bulgaria threw at us down two sets to one and the nice response we put together,” U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team Head Coach Kiraly said. “This is huge for the program. Everybody knows that we are going to Tokyo. We got that ticket locked in. We worked really hard for that this year. That helps in the planning, and it makes it that much closer in the distance. It is not that much distance to Tokyo.”
While Argentina opened the first set with the first three points, the Americans recovered and scored the final three points of the set to win 25-22. Team USA used an 11-2 run in building a 17-9 advantage in the second set and went on to win 25-17. The Americans raced to a 15-6 advantage in the third set and carried through to a 25-13 victory.
Opposite Jordan Thompson (Edina, Minnesota) scored a match-high 16 points with 13 kills on 35 swings, two aces and a block. Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) added 10 kills on 23 attacks, two aces and a block for 13 points. Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) chipped in 12 kills on 24 attacks in the victory.
“I just think it is really excited to be a part of it,” Thompson said. “I know that, even when I am on the bench, I am just as much as part of it as those on the court. We always say that we are 14 players strong, and we really mean that. When Annie is on the bench or when I am on the bench, we are always being really good eyes for the other person.”
Middle Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colorado) contributed five kills on 11 attacks, two blocks and two aces. Middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota) pocketed three kills and a team-high four blocks for seven points on her birthday. Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) rounded out the scoring with two blocks.
“It feels amazing,” Washington said. “There was a point where I was on the floor, and I was in this moment where I was ‘we are playing to go to the Olympics right now.’ That’s what this match meant. It is surreal. It is amazing. I am exciting to the next grind and going to Tokyo.”
“I am really happy with how we played, how we performed,” Dixon said. “It is a best birthday present ever, honestly.”
Carlini set Team USA to a 44 kill percent and .286 hitting efficiency (43-15-98). The Americans limited Argentina to a 27 kill percent and .085 hitting efficiency (29-20-106).
Libero Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) was unofficially credited with a 50 positive reception percent on 26 chances. She added 11 digs in the victory. Larson provided 17 receptions and a 59 positive reception percent. Carlini had a match-high 15 digs.
“I mean we talk about it all the time,” Courtney said. “This was our big goal for the year. VNL win was good, but our main tournament was focusing on the Olympic qualifier. We took care of business although it wasn’t easy, teams definitely give it to us. We had to earn it. Just really excited for this team’s opportunity to play in Tokyo.”
The Americans were dominant at the net and service line with advantages of 10-4 in blocks and 6-1 in aces. Team USA had a 43-29 margin in kills.
The U.S. started Carlini at setter, Thompson at opposite, Dixon and Washington at middle, Robinson and Larson at outside hitter and Courtney at libero.
The Tokyo Women’s Volleyball Qualification Tournament includes six pools of four team being staged in a round-robin format Aug. 1-4. The top 24 ranked teams, minus 2020 Olympic Games host Japan, are placed into the six pools using the serpentine system with pool winners claiming berths into the 2020 Olympics along with host Japan. The final five spots into the 2020 Olympics will be determined in early January through the five confederation zonal championships.
Team USA, the only country to medal in women’s indoor volleyball in each of the last three Olympic Games, seeks its 12th appearance in the Olympics. In its previous 11 Olympic Games, the Americans claimed silver medals in 1984, 2008 and 2012 along with bronze medals in 1992 and 2016.
Kiraly on USA’s depth at the pin hitter positions: “We are really lucky to have great depth in positions like the outside position. Four world-class outside hitters in Kim Hill, Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, Kelsey Robinson and Jordan Larson. And some great work by Annie Drews and Jordan Thompson. That is just two of positions where we have a lot of depth and a good blend of experience and youth. They have come together and worked very hard to earn this. They have a lot to be proud of.”
Washington on what is next: “We rest for the first two weeks and take some time off. Rest, recover. It is a grind. We got to ready for World Cup.”
Dixon on the change from the opening set to the final two sets: “We were making some uncharacteristic mistakes. We weren’t playing ourselves. We calmed down in the second set and played USA Volleyball.”
Dixon on the play of outside hitters Jordan Larson and Kelsey Robinson and opposite Jordan Thompson: “Our outsides and Jordan Thompson did a great job. They came in and carried a big load all summer long, especially today.”
Thompson on going back to University of Cincinnati this fall: “This experience is only going to help me going back to college, and adjusting back to the level of play in college. I am going to hopefully help my teammates, and share what I have learned this summer.”
How it Happened
Argentina scored the first three points of the match on USA attack errors. Team USA closed to 7-6 with kills from Robinson and Larson. The Americans leveled the set a 9-all with consecutive Larson kills, then Robinson slammed a kill and Thompson put up a block to give Team USA an 11-9 advantage on a 4-0 spurt. Argentina used a 3-0 run to move into the second technical timeout leading 16-15. Consecutive Dixon blocks as part of a 3-0 run shifted the lead back to Team USA at 21-19. Argentina knotted the set at 22-all. Thompson slammed a kill and Carlini blocked Argentina to give set points at 24-22. Team USA ended the set 25-22 on an Argentina attack error.
Robinson hammered a back-row attack after an Argentina service error to level set two at 6-all, then Team USA went into the lead 9-7 with a Washington kill and two Argentina errors. The U.S. extended the gap to 12-8 with two Larson kills around an Argentina error. Back-to-back Robinson kills and a block followed by an Argentina attack error pushes the American lead to 16-9. Out of the second technical timeout Dixon pounded a kill capping a 6-0 run at 17-9. Dixon ended the set with a block at 25-17.
Robinson scored the first two points of set three and Larson followed with a back-row kill at 3-0. Team USA reached the first technical timeout leading 8-4 after a Washington kill and Argentina error. Robinson scored consecutive aces, Washington put up a block and Larson hammered a kill to push the gap to 13-4 on a 7-0 run. Washington served an ace providing a 15-6 cushion. Team USA scored the final five points of the match with Thompson scoring two kills and an ace.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for 2019 FIVB Tokyo Qualification Tournament Pool C
# – Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
2 – Jordyn Poulter (S, 6-2, Illinois, Aurora, Colorado)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
12 – Jordan Thompson (OPP, 6-4, Cincinnati, Edina, Minnesota)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Champaign, Illinois)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Portland, Oregon)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
20 – Dana Rettke (M, 6-8, Wisconsin, Riverside, Illinois)
22 – Haleigh Washington (M, 6-3, Penn State, Colorado Springs, Colorado)
23 – Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Manhattan Beach, California)
27 – Mary Lake (L, 5-7, BYU, Palm Springs, California)
Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Luka Slabe, Tama Miyashiro, Erin Virtue
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Team Leader: Jimmy Stitz
2019 FIVB Tokyo Women’s Volleyball Qualification Tournament Pool C Schedule (all times CT)
Bulgaria def. Argentina 24-26, 25-9, 25-18, 25-20
USA def. Kazakhstan 25-17, 25-10, 25-10
USA def. Bulgaria 21-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10
Argentina def. Kazakhstan 22-25, 25-8, 25-20, 25-16
USA def. Argentina 25-22, 25-17, 25-13
Kazakhstan vs. Bulgaria, 4 p.m.