Foluke Gunderson

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 27, 2021) – The U.S. Women’s National Team celebrated the return of its two-time Olympic medal-winning middle blocker Foluke Gunderson on Thursday with a 3-1 (25-17, 25-19, 23-25, 25-22) victory over Brazil at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

The U.S. Women (3-0) and the 15 other women’s teams in Rimini, Italy, will take a three-day break while the men’s teams play matches. The U.S. Women will return on Monday, May 31 to play defending world champion Serbia (1-2).

In another interesting turn of events, the FIVB updated its indoor rankings on Thursday and the U.S. Women moved from No. 2 to No. 1 in the world prior to the finish of the VNL.


For the most part, they played like it on Thursday, leading Brazil in kills (67-58) and aces (6-2). The U.S. also took advantage of 19 Brazil errors while committing 14. Brazil led in blocks (9-6).

Outside hitter Sarah Wilhite Parsons led all players in scoring with 25 points on a match-high 21 kills, a match-high two aces and two blocks.

“I’m just really proud of our team; the way we fought this battle,” Wilhite Parsons said. “We started really strong in the first two sets, but then we made too many mistakes. We regained control, even if they pushed us.

“Winning three matches for three points is huge. It’s good to start the tournament this way.”

Outside hitter Jordan Larson and opposite Annie Drews each scored 16 points. Gunderson and fellow middle Haleigh Washington each finished with 10. Setter Jordyn Poulter, who made her first appearance of the 2021 VNL, scored two points and set the U.S. Women to a .356 hitting efficiency. Brazil hit .297.

Libero Justine Wong-Orantes was credited with 25 digs and 11 successful receptions.

Gunderson played in her first match with the U.S. Women since the FIVB World Championship in October 2018. The following year, while playing for her pro club in Japan, Gunderson discovered she was pregnant with son Kayode, who was born in November 2019.

Her 10 points came on seven kills, two blocks and one ace.

The teams were tied 8-8 in the first set when Drews and Washington scored with two straight kills to give the U.S. a two-point lead. Later, with the U.S. leading 13-12, the team used a 4-0 run, including kill and block by Gunderson and kills from Wilhite Parsons and Larson, to put Brazil behind for good.

Brazil took a 5-1 lead in the second set before the U.S. Women tied it at 7-7. At 8-8, Wilhite Parsons scored with a kill, then took the serve and served for the next five points, including an ace and a block from Gunderson. Brazil never threatened.

The third set, Brazil led 17-14 before the U.S. tied it at 17s. The teams were still tied at 23-23 when Brazil scored on a kill and a U.S. hitting error to win the set.
The U.S. Women came out strong in the fourth set, taking an 8-4 lead at the first technical timeout and never allowing Brazil back into the match.

The VNL is being broadcast in the United States on the FIVB’s streaming service Volleyball World TV.

U.S. Women’s National Team 14-Person Roster for May 25-27

No. Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College)

1 Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Edmond, Okla., Penn State Univ.)
3 Kathryn Plummer (OH, 6-6, Aliso Viejo, Calif., Stanford Univ.)
4 Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Cypress, Calif., Univ. of Nebraska)
6 Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Burnsville, Minn., Univ. of Minnesota)
7 Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, Aurora, Ill., Univ. of Wisconsin)
8 Hannah Tapp (M, 6-3, Stewartville, Minn., Univ. of Minnesota)
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)
13 Sarah Wilhite Parsons (OH, 6-2, Eden Prairie, Minn., Univ. of Minnesota)
15 Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Portland, Ore., Pepperdine, Univ.)
16 Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson (M, 6-3, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Stanford Univ.)
17 Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Dayton, Ohio, Penn State Univ.)
22 Haleigh Washington (M, 6-3, Colorado Springs, Colo., Penn State Univ.)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Luka Slabe, Erin Virtue, Tama Miyashiro
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz

U.S. Women’s Schedule for FIVB Volleyball Nations League (all times Pacific)

May 25: USA def Dominican Republic, 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-12)
May 26: USA def Canada, 3-0 (26-34, 25-15, 25-10)
May 27: USA def Brazil 3-1 (25-17, 25-19, 23-25, 25-22)

May 31 at 10:30 a.m.: Serbia vs USA
June 1 at 9 a.m.: USA vs Netherlands
June 2 at 3 a.m.: Thailand vs USA

June 6 at 10:30 a.m.: German vs USA
June 7 at 7 a.m.: Korea vs USA
June 8 at 10:30 a.m.: Italy vs USA

June 12 at 6 a.m.: USA vs Belgium
June 13 at 3 a.m.: USA vs Japan
June 14 at noon: USA vs Turkey

June 18 at 9 a.m.: Poland vs USA
June 19 at 3 a.m.: USA vs Russia
June 20 at 3 a.m.: China vs USA

June 23: Semifinals 1 and 2
June 24: Bronze and Gold medal matches