COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 15, 2019) – Opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) scored 18 points off the bench to spark the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team to a 23-25, 25-17, 25-16, 25-15 victory over reigning World Champions Serbia on day two of the FIVB World Cup on Sunday in Hamamatsu, Japan.
Team USA improves to 2-0 in the 12-team round robin World Cup. The Americans challenge Argentina on Monday at 1 a.m. ET in Hamamatsu before their first off day of the tournament that has 11 matches in 16 days. The FIVB World Cup matches will be streamed live on flovolleyball.tv.
Serbia came back from a 19-17 deficit in the opening set to win 25-23, scoring three of the final four points of the set. Team USA used a key 5-0 run breaking a 4-all tie in the second set and cruised to the 25-17 victory. The Americans bolted to an 8-3 advantage in the third set and never let Serbia into the set with a 25-16 victory. Although Serbia scored the first two points of the fourth set, Team USA dominated the rest of the way for a 25-15 victory.
“We have very strong respect for the Serbian women’s program,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “They’ve had a lot of very strong results over the last four or five years. We know many of their top players aren’t here after the European Championship, but I was impressed with the match they played against Brazil last night. We approached this match knowing it would be very difficult. They beat us in the first set, but the team did a nice job adjusting the block and defense and we are happy with the result. Karsta Lowe came in and gave us some great energy today and some great power, and she helped us change the match after we lost the first set.”
Lowe agreed with Kiraly, saying adjustments to the block helped Team USA find their groove.
“I think that we started to find our groove, but it took a while,” Lowe said. “Once we made some little adjustments with our blocking, I think that made some big changes.”
Lowe, who did not play in the opening set, led all scorers with 18 points including 14 kills on 22 swings, three blocks and an ace. Middle Haleigh Washington (Colorado Springs, Colorado) added 10 kills on 19 swings and a match-high six blocks for 16 points. Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) pocketed 13 kills on 21 swings, one block and one ace for 15 points.
“Every match I am ready for anything,” Lowe said in regards to making an impact coming off the bench. “Whatever help I can give to the team, whether on the bench, being a good set of eyes for Annie or whoever is in and telling them what I see. I just try to stay ready and be there in any capacity that I can.”
Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) contributed 11 kills on 25 swings and an ace for 12 points. Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas) added eight kills on 13 swings and three blocks for 11 points. Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) totaled three kills in only the first set and setter Jordyn Poulter (Aurora, Colorado) rounded out the scoring with two blocks.
“It was a great match for us,” Larson said. “I thought both teams came out strong, but I think our block broke down in the first set. I thought we got our block and defense under control and started serving tough, and that’s what set the tone for the rest of the match.”
Robinson was unofficially credited with a 59 positive reception percent on 29 chances and seven digs. Larson was 52 percent positive on 21 chances. American libero Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) was 50 percent positive on 12 chances and added eight digs. Lowe had six digs in the victory.
Poulter set Team USA to a 53 kill percent and .432 hitting efficiency (59-11-111). The American defense held the Serbians to a 45 kill percent and .255 hitting efficiency (49-21-110).
The American net defense provided a dominating 15-5 block advantage and a 59-49 edge in kills. Serbia held a 4-3 margin in aces. The U.S. benefited from 22 Serbia errors and held its own miscues to 15 for the match.
Lowe said the team is off to a good start with a good win over Serbia, but there is much more to accomplish in the 16-day tournament.
“It is only our second match and we are playing Serbia,” Lowe said. “It is a good start and we still have a lot more that we want to do.”
The U.S. started Larson and Robinson at outside hitter, Ogbogu and Washington at middle, Drews at opposite, Poulter at setter and Courtney at libero. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois) was a serving sub in all four sets as she had seven total serves.
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.
Serbia used a 5-1 run to take an 8-6 advantage into the opening set’s first technical timeout. The Americans answered with kills from Ogbogu and Larson around a Serbia error to take the lead at 9-8. Washington and Robinson powered down consecutive kills to lift the Americans in front 13-11. Serbia tied the set at 14-all with a block. Drews pounded consecutive kills providing Team USA a 17-15 edge. Serbia took a 21-19 lead on a 4-0 run that included two aces and two video challenges in its favor. Drews and Washington slammed back-to-back kills to quickly tie the set at 21-all. Serbia reached set points at 24-22 after a USA error.
The U.S. gained a four-point cushion at 8-4 in the second set as Washington put up two blocks after a Lowe kill and Serbia error. Out of the technical timeout, Robinson hammered a backrow kill to cap a 5-0 run at 9-4. Larson and Ogbogu downed consecutive kills and Serbia hit wide to extend the Team USA lead to 12-5. After Serbia cut the gap to 13-8, Lowe hammered two kills around a Robinson spike to yield a 16-8 American lead at the second technical timeout. Team USA built the lead to 18-9 on a Robinson kill and Washington block. Robinson and Larson produced kills around a Serbia error to give Team USA a 23-14 advantage. Lowe ended the set with a kill at 25-17.
Washington scored consecutive blocks after a Lowe kill to put the U.S. in front 4-1 in the third set. Team USA reached the technical timeout leading 8-3 after Robinson and Lowe pounded kills to follow Serbia’s third service error of the set. Serbia moved to within three at 10-7. The Americans forced Serbia to call timeout trailing 13-8 following an Ogbogu kill and Washington block. Washington picked up consecutive kills to extend the American lead to 15-9. Serbia called timeout after consecutive errors giving USA a 20-12 lead. An Ogbogu block after a Lowe kill jumped the U.S. lead to 22-13. Team USA scored the final two points of the set with a Lowe kill and ace for a 25-16 victory.
After Serbia scored the first two points of the fourth set, the U.S. went up 4-2 with three Serbia errors and an Ogbogu block. Robinson scored a kill and block and Lowe pounded a kill to raise the U.S. lead to 7-3. Team USA increased its lead to 11-7 with kills from Washington and Robinson, then Americans increased the gap to 13-8 with a Lowe kill and Ogbogu block. The U.S. lead reached six points after an Ogbogu kill and block at 15-9. Washington scored a kill and two blocks to inch the U.S. lead to 19-11. Team USA pushed the gap to 21-12 with a Washington kill and Poulter block. The Americans ended the set with Ogbogu scoring a kill and Lowe with a block at 25-15.