COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 19, 2019) – Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) scored 15 points in sparking the U.S. Women’s National Team to dominating 25-22, 25-18,2 5-19 victory over Brazil on Thursday to conclude the first phase of the FIVB World Cup in Hamamatsu, Japan.
Team USA, ranked third in the world, improves to 5-0 and is in second place in the 12-team round robin World Cup. Brazil, ranked fourth in the world, falls to 3-2 overall. After two non-competition days, the Americans begin their second phase of the World Cup in Sapporo against host Japan on Sunday at 6:20 a.m. ET. The FIVB World Cup matches will be streamed live on FloVolleyball.tv.
The U.S. trailed for only point in any of the three sets when Brazil scored the first point of the match on a foot fault by the Americans that would have landed as a kill. However, Team USA bolted to a 10-3 advantage in the opening set and maintained control for a 25-22 victory. The Americans started the second set strong with a 9-2 advantage and cruised to the 25-18 victory. Team USA built an 8-3 lead in the third set, withstood a Brazilian challenge in the middle stages of the set and close out the match with a comfortable 25-19 victory.
Robinson collected 14 kills on 31 swings and a block for her team-leading 15 points. Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) added 12 kills on 27 attacks and two blocks for 14 points. Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas) totaled six kills on eight swings, a team-best four blocks and two aces for 12 points.
Middle Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colorado) pounded nine kills on 13 attacks to go with a block for 10 points. Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) converted eight of 17 attacks into points in the victory. Setter Jordyn Poulter (Aurora, Colorado) rounded out the scoring with an ace.
“We knew it was going to be a tough match,” Larson said. “We respect Brazil so much. We are going at another level. The more time we spend together, the better we are getting better. You are seeing it and I am so excited.”
Larson handled 37 of the team’s 54 receptions with an impressive 62 positive reception percent. She added six digs in the match. Robinson was 77 percent positive on 13 reception chances with seven digs. Libero Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) was 75 percent positive on four chances. Poulter added eight digs from her setter position.
Poulter set Team USA to a 51 kill percent and a .376 hitting efficiency (50-13-98). The American defense held Brazil to a 40 kill percent and .245 hitting efficiency.
Team USA led in all three scoring phases of the game. The American offense provided a 49-39 advantage in kills and an 8-4 block margin. The U.S. held a slim 3-2 edge in aces.
Larson said Team USA leaving Hamamatsu with an unblemished 5-0 record is an accomplishment that included wins over Brazil (No. 4 in the world), Serbia (No. 1 in the world) and Netherlands (No. 7 in the world).
“Obviously there are so many great teams in this tournament,” Larson said. “I think ultimately we are just focusing on ourselves and how we can get better every day. We came in with that attitude and sticking together. We have 14 strong, and we are in it together. Anybody is ready to play and that is important.”
Gabi and Drussyla led Brazil with 12 points each.
“We respect them so much,” Larson said about Team USA’s long-time rival Brazil “Gabi is so incredible, great receiver and great attacker. We definitely had to show her respect. All around, we respect the whole team and coaching staff.”
The U.S. started Larson and Robinson at outside hitter, Washington and Ogbogu at middle, Drews at opposite, Poulter at setter and Courtney at libero. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois) and Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) were serving subs in all three sets.
Team USA is the only country to have medaled in each of the last four World Cups. The Americans won silver in 2011 and bronze in 2003, 2007 and 2015. The 2015 World Cup podium finishes replicated the 2016 Olympic Games results – China winning the event with Serbia claiming silver and USA bronze.
Drews scored consecutive kills after an Ogbogu spike followed by a Brazil error to give the Americans a 4-1 lead. Drews and Ogbogu nailed back-to-back kills to extend the U.S. lead to 6-2. Robinson hammered consecutive kills and Drews followed with a block and Ogbogu served an ace to increase Team USA’s lead to 10-3. Brazil cut the deficit to 10-7 with four straight points. Washington collected back-to-back kills and Larson followed with a kill to build USA’s lead to 14-8. The American lead reached seven, 17-10, with a Poulter kill after a Brazil error. After Brazil scored back-to-back points, Team USA answered with kills from Drews and Robinson at 21-14. Team USA closed at the set at 25-22 on a Drews kill after Brazil saved three set point chances.
The U.S. scored the first four points of the second set with a Larson kill followed by three consecutive Ogbogu blocks. The Americans raised the lead to 9-2 with kills from Robinson and Drews and an Ogbogu ace as part of a 5-1 scoring run. Team USA extended its margin to 16-7 on a 4-0 run where Larson, Drews, Robinson and Ogbogu all scored kills. Larson raised the U.S. lead to 18-8 with two kills. Brazil closed to 20-15 on a 7-2 scoring run. Drews slammed a kill after a Brazil service error to raise the U.S. lead to 22-15. The Americans finished the set at 25-18 on a Drews kill.
The U.S. built an 8-3 lead in the third set on a 4-0 run with kills from Drews and Washington followed by a Robinson block and Brazil error. Brazil scored three straight out of the technical timeout to close to 8-6. Drews scored a kill and block to increase the USA lead to 12-8. Washington put up a block after a Brazil service error to extend the American lead to 15-10, but Brazil answered with two quick points to close to 15-12. Washington pounded a kill after two Brazil committed consecutive errors to lift Team USA’s lead to 18-12. Brazil trimmed the gap to 22-18 with consecutive points. Team USA reached match points with a Robinson kill and Brazil error. Robinson ended the set at 25-19 on a kill.