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USA vs. Serbia Women’s Indoor Olympic Games Semifinal Preview

Thursday, Aug. 18 * Noon ET

Matchup: United States vs. Serbia

    • 2016 Olympic Games Records: USA 6-0, Serbia 4-2
    • Final Preliminary Round Finish: USA finished 1st in Pool B, Serbia finished 3rd in Pool B
    • FIVB World Rankings: USA is ranked No. 1, Serbia is ranked No. 6
    • Olympic Games Head-to-Head Series Record: USA leads series 2-0
      • USA def. Serbia 25-17, 21-25, 25-18, 25-19 on Aug. 10, 2016
      • USA def. Serbia 25-17, 25-20, 25-16 on Aug. 3, 2012
    • All-Time Series Record since 1983: The U.S. leads the series 9-4, including a four-set victory during pool play of the 2016 Olympic Games
    • Last USA win in Series: The U.S. Women defeated Serbia 25-17, 21-25, 25-18, 25-19 on Aug. 10 of this year’s Olympic Games pool play.
    • Last Serbia win: Serbia defeated USA 25-20, 22-25, 18-25, 25-19, 15-6 in a thrilling match on the second day of the 2015 FIVB World Cup in Japan on Aug. 23, 2015.
    • What’s at Stake: The USA-Serbia winner advances to the gold-medal match on Saturday at 9:15 p.m. ET to play the winner of Netherlands and China in the second semifinal, while the two losers will meet in the bronze-medal match on Saturday at noon ET.
    • Watch on TV: NBC at noon ET (subject to change and not uninterrupted live volleyball action)

USA’s Route to Semifinal

USA def. Puerto Rico 25-17, 25-22, 25-17

USA def. Netherlands 18-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 15-8

USA def. Serbia 25-17, 21-25, 25-18, 25-19

USA def. Italy 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20

USA def. China 22-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-19

USA def. Japan 25-16, 25-23, 25-22 (Quarterfinals)

Serbia’s Route to Semifinal

Serbia def. Italy 27-25, 25-20, 25-23

Serbia def. Puerto Rico 29-27, 25-18, 25-20

USA def. Serbia 25-17, 21-25, 25-18, 25-19

Serbia def. China 25-19, 25-19, 25-22

Netherlands def. Serbia 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 18-25, 15-8

Serbia def. Russia 25-9, 25-22, 25-21 (Quarterfinals)

Recap on the Previous USA-Serbia Match of 2016 Olympic Games

Both teams entered the third match of the Olympic Games undefeated and it was Team USA that left the arena on Aug. 10 still without a loss following a 25-17, 21-25, 25-18, 25-19 victory.

Team USA’s middles Rachael Adams and Foluke Akinradewo combined for 34 points in the victory. Adams scored 13 kills on 19 errorless attacks, four aces and a block. Akinradewo added 16 points with 12 kills on 19 attacks and just one error to go with four blocks. The middles converted 25 of 38 of their attacks with just one error for a .632 hitting efficiency. Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) contributed 13 points in the victory with 11 kills on 30 attacks and two blocks. Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) tacked on 11 points with nine kills, one block and one ace.

The U.S. overcame an early 4-1 deficit in the opening set with a 12-4 scoring run to establish a 13-8 advantage and cruised to a 25-17 victory. Serbia built a 14-9 lead in the second set and withstood a USA charge back to within one at 16-15 to win 25-21. Leading 17-15 in the third set, the U.S. used an 8-3 run to close out the set 25-18 to go up 2-1. Team USA rolled to a 21-14 lead in the fourth set, but withstood a late challenge from Serbia before winning 25-19, scoring the final three points.

Team USA converted 47.0 percent of its attacks with a .325 hitting efficiency (55-17-117) as setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Michigan) was credited with 39 running sets on 79 total set attempts. Team USA held a 5-3 margin in aces to offset Serbia’s 11-8 advantage in blocks. The Americans held a slim 55-51 lead in kills. The U.S. defense held Serbia to a 42.5 kill percent and .258 hitting efficiency (51-20-120).

Serbia was led by Brankica Mihajlovic and Tijana Boskovic, who each had 18 points in the match.

Key Points about USA

  • The Americans are in search of their first-ever Olympic Games gold medal since volleyball was added to the Olympic schedule in 1964. In fact, the U.S. just recently won its first-ever tournament in what is considered one of the three majors – Olympic Games, FIVB World Championship, FIVB World Cup. Team USA captured the 2014 FIVB World Championship, defeating China in four sets in Milan, Italy.
  • Team USA is the only undefeated team in the semifinals after Brazil lost in the quarterfinals. The Americans have swept only Puerto Rico in the opener and Japan in the recent quarterfinal round match. The previously undefeated Brazilians had not lost a single set in the Olympics until dropping a 3-2 match to China.
  • The Americans have gone undefeated in each of the last two Olympic Games preliminary rounds plus quarterfinal round.
  • USA is 18-2 in its last 20 Olympic Games matches dating back to Aug. 13, 2008. The only two losses have been to Brazil in the gold-medal match of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
  • Team USA has made it to the top four for the sixth time in Olympic Games history, having won silver in 1984, 2008 and 2012, and bronze in 1992.
  • USA Head Coach Karch Kiraly, already the first person to win gold as a player in indoor and beach volleyball, is attempting to become the first person to win gold as a player and lead a team to gold as a coach (note: Jenny Lang Ping, head coach of China’s women’s team, is also attempting the feat)
  • USA has had five different leading scorers in its six Olympic Games matches in 2016. Kim Hill and Kelly Murphy led the team in scoring with 15 points each during the opener against Puerto Rico on Saturday. Murphy followed with a team-high 18 points against Netherlands on Monday and Rachael Adams totaled 18 points in the Americans’ win over Serbia on Wednesday. Foluke Akinradewo led Team USA with 14 points in its victory over Italy on Friday. Jordan Larson scored a team-high 18 points in the Americans’ four-set win over China on Sunday. During the quarterfinal round match, Hill notched 18 points against Japan.
  • Balanced scoring has been the theme for Team USA in this Olympics. Out of the four remaining teams in the Olympic Games, Team USA has five players in the top 12 in scoring. Foluke Akinradewo has been the Americans’ top scorer with 80 points (66 kills, 13 blocks, 1 ace) for fourth most among players remaining in the competition. Jordan Larson ranks sixth with 76 points (61 kills, 7 blocks, 8 aces), while Kim Hill is in eighth place with 74 points (66 kills, 4 blocks, 4 aces). Kelly Murphy is tied for 10th in scoring with 62 points (54 kills, 6 blocks, 2 aces), while Rachael Adams has 55 points (44 kills, 7 blocks 4 aces) for 12th in scoring.
  • Alisha Glass ranks first in Best Setter with an 10.91 running sets average (251 running sets on 552 total set attempts)
  • Foluke Akinradewo ranks as the Best Spiker in the tournament with a .451 hitting efficiency (66-15-113), while Jordan Larson, Kim Hill and Kelly Murphy rank fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.
  • Foluke Akinradewo has averaged 0.57 blocks per set for third in Best Blocker among players remaining in the competition.
  • Jordan Larson has been Team USA’s best server and ranks third in the category among players in the semifinals. She averages 0.35 aces per set.
  • Kayla Banwarth ranks atop the Best Receiver category at 47.3 success percent and Jordan Larson is second among remaining players in the competition with a 44.4 success percent.
  • Kayla Banwarth averages 1.83 digs per set for third highest in Best Digger and Jordan Larson is close behind with 1.78 digs per set for fifth place.
  • Jordan Larson is fifth in Best Receiver with a 45.5 efficiency

Key Points on Serbia

  • All four of Serbia’s victories in the 2016 Olympic Games have come in straight sets, while its two losses have been in four (to USA) and in five (to Netherlands).
  • Serbia is making its first-ever appearance in the Olympic Games semifinals. The country’s previous best performance in women’s indoor volleyball was a tie for fifth place at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
  • Serbia, making their third Olympic Games appearance, finished 11th at the 2012 Olympic Games after a fifth-place finish in their debut at the 2008 Beijing Games.
  • Serbia’s Tijana Boskovic ranks third in scoring during this Olympic Games with 94 points, while teammate Brankica Mihajlovic is fourth with 88 points. They form a potent combination at opposite (Boskovic) and outside hitter (Mihajlovic).
  • Brankica Mihajlovic is third in Best Spiker with a .368 hitting efficiency and Tijana Boskovic is eighth in the category at .227.
  • Serbia’s Milena Rasic averages 0.71 blocks per set for second in Best Blocker among players still in the competition. Jovana Stevanovic is fifth at 0.52 per set.
  • Serbia has a potent serve from all positions. Milena Rasic is the top server among the semifinalists with 0.48 aces per set, and teammate Tijana Boskovic is second at 0.38 aces per set.
  • Serbia libero Silvija Popovic is the top digger in the tournament with 2.24 digs per set, but doesn’t take enough serve receptions to qualify under the Best Receiver category.

Notes

  • USA is the only team from the 2012 Olympic Games semifinals to advance the 2016 Olympic Games semifinals
  • All four teams in the semifinal competed in Pool B during the preliminary round, having won their quarterfinal matches against their crossover Pool A opponent
  • The top three teams from the 2015 FIVB World Cup – the first 2016 Olympic Games qualifying tournament – advanced to the semifinals. China won the World Cup, while Serbia was the silver medalist and USA the bronze medalist. Due to quotas per zone, Netherlands did not compete in the World Cup, though they finished with the bronze medal at this year’s FIVB World Grand Prix.
  • The USA-Serbia winner advances to the gold-medal match on Saturday at 9:15 p.m. ET and will play the winner of Netherlands and China in the opposite semifinal. The two semifinal losers will play for the bronze on Saturday at noon ET.

Quotable:

U.S. Olympic Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly regarding not expecting to win matches: “We don’t go into any match expecting to win. There are at least two benefits to that. One is that we know we have to really work hard, and do not expect to win the next point. We know we have to go out and earn it rather than thinking it will happen on its own. And then when we do accomplish something that we do not expect, we can derive a lot more satisfaction and increase our overall level of satisfaction, not just in volleyball but in life.”

Other Women’s Volleyball Semifinal Match for Thursday, Aug. 18 (All Times ET)
Netherlands vs. China, 9:15 p.m.

Olympic Games Standings Final Pool Standings

Pool B

USA – 5-0 record, 14 points, 15-5 sets

Netherlands – 4-1 record, 11 points, 14-7 sets

Serbia – 3-2 record, 10 points, 12-6 sets

China – 2-3 record, 7 points, 9-9 sets

Italy – 1-4 record, 3 points, 4-12 sets

Puerto Rico – 0-5, 0 points, 0-15 sets

Pool A

Brazil – 5-0 record, 15 points, 15-0 sets

Russia – 4-1 record, 12 points, 12-4 sets

Korea – 3-2 record, 9 points, 10-7 sets

Japan – 2-3 record, 6 points, 7-9 sets

Argentina – 1-4 record, 2 points, 3-14 sets

Cameroon – 0-5 record, 1 point, 2-15 sets