COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 12, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Team snapped a two-match FIVB Volleyball Nations League losing streak, overcoming a slow start to defeat Poland 21-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-11 on Wednesday in Jiangmen, China.
The Americans are now 8-3 overall with 24 points, while Poland falls to 7-4 record with 20 points. The U.S. concludes fourth week of preliminary matches on Thursday at 8 a.m. ET against host China. All Team USA matches in the VNL matches are being streamed on flovolleyball.tv.
The U.S. led the opening set 12-9 in the early stages, but Poland scored the final four points to win 25-21. The U.S. scored three unanswered points late in the second set to take a 24-22 lead and went on to win 25-23. Team USA broke a 10-all tie in the third set with five unanswered points, and had two other 4-0 runs to control the third set with 25-15 victory. The Americans raced out to an 8-2 lead in the fourth set and closed out the match with a dominating 25-11 victory.
Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) led the American offense with 20 kills on 41 swings and an ace for a match-high 21 points. Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois) added 15 kills on 36 attacks and two blocks for 17 points. Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas) claimed 16 points with nine kills on 14 swings, four blocks and three aces.
“I think the best thing we did to reset was to just come together and figure out that we didn’t need to be perfect,” Ogbogu said about the difference in today’s match and yesterday’s three-set loss to league-leader Turkey. “I think you saw in this match that we did a lot of good, and sometimes where it wasn’t so good. But just knowing that we can be USA good and our good was good enough helped to relieve some pressures so that some of us could play really free.”
Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) tacked on 10 points with eight kills on 21 attacks, one block and one ace. Middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota) totaled five kills on nine swings, three blocks and an ace for nine points. Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) rounded out the scoring with a kill, block and ace for three points.
The U.S. converted 46 percent of its attacks with a .298 hitting efficiency (57-20-124) on Carlini’s setting. The American defense held Poland to a 34 kill percent and .177 hitting efficiency (44-21-130).
Bartsch-Hackley had a 50 positive reception on a team-best 28 chances based on the unofficial stats. She also produced nine digs in the victory. Robinson was credited with a 58 positive reception percent on 12 chances to go with 10 digs. Libero Mary Lake (Palm Springs, California) handled 27 receptions with a 44 positive percent and added eight digs.
Team USA controlled each of the scoring categories, especially after the first set. The Americans had a 7-4 ace advantage and a 58-44 kill margin. The U.S. had a slim 11-10 lead in blocks. After having eight errors in the opening set, the U.S. committed just eight total over the next three sets.
Ogbogu said her experience playing in the Polish league this past winter made today’s match even more exciting.
“I know a lot of the players on the Polish side,” Ogbogu said. “I played in the Polish League this season. It is fun to play against people I know.”
The U.S. started Bartsch-Hackley and Robinson at outside hitter, Ogbogu and Dixon at middle, Drews at opposite, Carlini at setter and Lake at libero.
Now Team USA’s attention turns to playing this week’s host China on Thursday.
“I know tomorrow will be crazy loud and really exciting,” Ogbogu said. “The biggest thing is just taking it all in and being grateful to be in a place like this, playing in front of their home crowd. I am excited for a lot battle, and also some scrappy defense because I know it will be good on both sides.”
The U.S. scored the first two points of the match with a Drews kill and Ogbogu block, but Poland leveled the first set at 2-all. Robinson downed an overpass after a Poland service error to put the USA in front 4-2. Poland answered with four straight points to take a 6-4 advantage. Team USA tied the set at 7-7 on a Dixon kill and Bartsch-Hackley block. The Americans regained the lead at 9-8 with kills from Drews and Bartsch-Hackley. The U.S. raised its lead to 12-9 with a Bartsch-Hackley kill and Ogbogu soft block around a Poland error. After a timeout, Poland trimmed the gap to one at 12-11. Bartsch-Hackley and Drews scored back-to-back kills to extend the Team USA lead to 14-11. Poland used a 4-1 run to even the set at 15-all. The Americans built a two-point cushion at 17-15 with a Robinson kill and Drews ace, but the lead was short-lived as Poland scored the next two points to tie the set at 17-all. Poland served an ace then blocked Team USA to take a 20-18 advantage. Out of an American timeout, Bartsch-Hackley hammered a kill and Poland committed an error to square the set at 20-all. Poland scored the final four points of the opening set to win 25-21.
Ogbogu put up a block after a Poland service error to give the Americans an early 4-2 lead in the second set. Team USA raised its lead to 8-4 with kills from Ogbogu and Drews around a Dixon block. Out of the technical timeout Poland scored four of the next five points to trim the gap to 9-8. Robinson claimed a kill and Bartsch-Hackley won a joust to increase Team USA’s lead to 11-8. Poland answered with five straight points to take a 13-11 advantage. The Americans tied the set at 15-all with an Ogbogu kill and Robinson block alongside Ogbogu. Poland raised its lead to 18-16 following an American error. Robinson tied the set with a kill and ace at 19-all leading to a Poland timeout. Out of the break Carlini put up a block and Drews followed with a kill to place the Americans in front 21-19. Poland answered with two blocks after an American service error to take the lead back at 22-21. Dixon scored a kill and ace around a Poland error to give the U.S. set points at 24-22. Ogbogu scored the winner at 25-23.
Poland scored four unanswered points to stake a 4-1 lead in the third set. Drews connected for consecutive kills to narrow the gap to 5-4. Ogbogu served an ace after Drews’ fourth kill of the set to tie the score at 6-all. Team USA went into the first technical timeout up 8-7 after kills from Robinson and Carlini. The Americans extended their lead to 13-10 with an Ogbogu kill, Carlini ace and Bartsch-Hackley block. Out of a Poland timeout, Drews hammered a kill and Ogbogu placed a block to lift the U.S. lead to 15-10. Ogbogu served an ace after a Robinson kill to shift the U.S. lead to 18-12. Out of a Poland timeout, Ogbogu served a second straight ace and Robinson powered a kill through the block to extend the advantage to 20-12. Poland sliced two points off the deficit at 21-15. Bartsch-Hackley answered with two kills around a Drews kill to give the Americans a 24-15 lead, then the U.S. won the final point at 25-15.
The U.S. used a 5-0 run to take a 5-1 lead in the fourth set with kills from Bartsch-Hackley and Ogbogu around three Poland errors. Team USA scored three consecutive points with kills from Bartsch-Hackley and Drews around a Poland error to go into the technical timeout leading 8-2. Drews slammed a kill and Poland committed an error to raise the American lead to 10-3. Drews pounded off the block after a Poland error to stretch the American lead to 12-4. Dixon downed a winner and Carlini followed with a block to push the American lead to 15-6. Bartsch-Hackley slammed two kills around a Drews kill to provide Team USA an 18-7 advantage. Poland scored consecutive points for the first time in set four to trim the gap at 19-10. Robinson dinked a kill over the block between two Poland error to place the Americans up 22-10. Team USA reached match points with a Drews kill and Dixon block at 24-11, then Bartsch-Hackley finished it with a back-row kill at 25-11.