NOCERA, Italy (July 9, 2019) – In perhaps its best offensive match of the 2019 World University Games, the U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Team – World University Games (WCNT – WUG) downed Ukraine 3-1 (24-26, 25-22, 25-17, 25-18) Tuesday at PalaCoscioni to advance to the 9-12 semifinal.
“Ukraine had a nice first set against us and really put us on our heels with their service and attack, “said WCNT – WUG head coach Keegan Cook. “But a nice response from the U.S.A., especially our setters, who’ve been working very hard with [assistant coach] Beth Launiere to get the hitters what they need to be successful. I thought this was one of our best matches in terms of running an offense. The longer we’re together, the more we start to understand each other’s games as well as the systems we’ve put into place. It’s starting to look like the team that we thought it could be.”
After dropping the first set, the U.S. rallied late to take the second. They used an 8-3 run to win the frame 25-22 and level the match. WCNT – WUG led the third set wire-to-wire, storming out to a 6-1 advantage and not looking back. In the fourth, they put together a six-point run to take the lead at 17-12 and maintained that advantage through the end of the match.
“The serve and pass game was really influential in our win,” said Stanford outside hitter Meghan McClure. “The first set, we struggled to pass, and we struggled to serve, serve in, and serve tough. That was the biggest turning point in the game, us passing better and serving better.”
Everyone in a U.S. jersey was involved with the attack as 11 of the 12 players tallied at least one kill. Outside hitter Kara Bajema led the way with 16 kills, and McClure added 10 on 28 swings. Stanford opposite Audriana Fitzmorris nearly hit double-digits with nine, and Minnesota opposite Stephanie Samedy was one shy at eight. Middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg found the floor seven times against Ukraine.
In fact, Wisconsin libero Lauren Barnes was the only American to not score a point Tuesday, but she did her part with 15 serve reception attempts. McClure led the category with 42, more than anyone else on the floor.
With the win, USA Team advanced to 2-2 overall in the 2019 Summer Universiade. They’ll next take on Argentina at 5:30 p.m. local/11:30 a.m. Eastern, once again at Nocera’s PalaCoscioni, for a spot in the ninth-place match.
While McClure is looking forward to the Argentina contest and hopefully ending on a three-game win streak, she’s also anticipating the additional experience and court time. “I want to keep getting better and stronger,” she said. “I can keep getting more in rhythm and do better on the passing. This is one of the toughest places to pass and one of the toughest balls to pass, so this is a great opportunity for me to keep getting better in all aspects of my game.”