HONG KONG (June 25, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team, ranked number-one in the world, used a balanced offense of five players in double-figure scoring and a 14-5 block advantage to defeat Olympic Games-qualified Netherlands 25-17, 19-25, 25-17, 25-20 during the FIVB World Grand Prix Pool H preliminary round on Saturday afternoon in Hong Kong.
Team USA, with a 7-1 record and 21 points, concludes the nine-match preliminary phase of the World Grand Prix on against second-ranked China on Sunday at 3:45 a.m. ET. China, the only undefeated team in the World Grand Prix, beat Team USA on June 12 in Ningbo, China, on the third day of this year’s World Grand Prix. China is the only team to beat the reigning World Grand Prix champions as the Americans fell in four sets on June 12 in Ningbo, China. The USA-China match will be streamed live on NBC Sports Live Extra.
The U.S. and China clinched their spots into the FIVB World Grand Prix Final 6 following Friday night victories in Hong Kong. The Finals, which will be the top five teams in the 12-team Group 1 plus host Thailand, take place July 6-10 in Bangkok. The World Grand Prix is the premier annual international women’s volleyball tournament.
Team USA went up 16-9 in the opening set and withstood a Netherlands mini-run that closed the gap to 16-13. As the Americans scored nine of the final 13 points of the set for a 25-17 victory. Netherlands jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the second set with a 6-1 scoring run and never let the Americans closer than two points the rest of the way for a 25-19 victory. Team USA used an early 4-0 run to take a 6-4 lead in the third set and used six blocks in the frame to win 25-17. The U.S. captured a back-and-fourth final set in which Netherlands committed nine errors.
Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) paced the American offense with 10 kills on 22 attacks and just one error to go with three blocks and two aces for 15 points. Middle Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania) contributed 13 points with nine kills on 13 errorless swings and four blocks. Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) turned in 13 points with 10 kills on 25 swings, two aces and a block.
“I thought the Netherlands pushed us in a lot of areas of the game,” Dietzen said. “They are coached very well. We were excited for the opportunity to compete against them because obviously our team will hopefully see them in the Finals of World Grand Prix, as well as the Olympic Games. I think it is always important to compete against strong teams, and I thought the Netherlands is one of them. They are very young. We learned a lot from this match, and now we prepare for China tomorrow.”
Opposite Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio) collected 11 points on eight kills via 27 attacks and three aces. Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida) pocketed 11 points with six kills on 10 attacks and just error, four blocks and one ace. Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California), playing as the opposite in the double-sub, charted five kills on 10 errorless attacks. Setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Michigan) rounded out the scoring with two blocks.
“Something we have been focusing on so far this training block is our block defense,” Akinradewo said. “We have a really great serving team, and we had a lot of opportunities to get them out of system.”
Team USA converted 44.0 percent of its attacks with a .358 hitting efficiency (48-9-109) as Glass provided 30 running sets on 65 attempts and double-sub setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) added nine running sets on 19 attempts. The U.S. defense held Netherlands to a .235 hitting efficiency (50-22-119) as the Dutch committed 22 hitting errors.
“First of all it is honor to play against a really good team that is getting a lot of better in the time under a great coach in Giovanni (Guidetti) that he has been leading this team,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “We were very excited to play against the Netherlands. We are excited to play against teams we haven’t played very much. We have only played them maybe twice recently – once in 2014 and once in 2013. To get to see a good, very good team is very exciting for us in Grand Prix. Both teams learned things and as we exposed each other’s weaknesses, and that will make us both better going into the remainder of World Grand Prix and the Olympics.”
Libero Natalie Hagglund (Encinitas, California) was credited with 19 excellent receptions on 43 chances and four digs. Hill added seven excellent receptions on 12 errorless chances to go with six digs. Larson chipped in five digs and six excellent receptions.
Along with out-blocking the Netherlands, the U.S. held a slim 8-7 margin in aces. Netherlands also committed 24 errors in the match including nine in the final set as the Americans held their errors to 17 for the match. Netherlands out-dug Team USA 22-17 and had a 44-34 advantage in excellent receptions.
Entering the match, the Netherlands had won three of its four most recent World Grand Prix matches with Team USA. However, the Americans defeated the Dutch in the most recent overall meeting at the 2014 FIVB World Championship.
Team USA has won 22 of its last 24 World Grand Prix matches with both losses coming at the hands of Sunday’s opponent, China. Also, both losses have occurred in China – last year in Hong Kong to end the preliminary round and earlier this year on June 12 in Ningbo.
“We always want to win the next point, and we don’t have complete control over the scoreboard,” Kiraly said in regards to meeting China once in the World Grand Prix. “We will give our best effort. Right now we are taking a few minutes to reflect on the match against the Netherlands and what we learned and put that information to use against China. We had a wonderful time competing against China two weeks and are excited for another opportunity.”
The U.S. picked up an early 3-1 lead in the opening set after a Hill kill and Netherlands attack error. Fawcett served an ace after a Netherlands error to raise Team USA’s lead to 5-2. Netherlands committed its third and fourth errors on consecutive plays to push the U.S. advantage to 7-3. Larson and Dietzen pounded consecutive kills to extend Team USA’s lead to 9-4. After Netherlands scored back-to-back points, Larson, Fawcett and Dietzen answered with their own kills prompting the Dutch to call timeout trailing 13-7. Team USA raised its advantage to 15-8 with a Hill kill and Akinradewo block. Out of the second technical timeout Netherlands scored four unanswered points to slice the deficit to 16-13. The Netherlands scoring run ended with a service error and that led to a Hill ace and Akinradewo joust winner at the net for a 19-13 American lead. Akinradewo and Larson hammered kills to extend Team USA’s margin to 21-14. Lowe and Fawcett connected for back-to-back kills and Dietzen blocked an attack to put the U.S. at set points 24-15. Netherlands saved two set points before Fawcett landed the winning point at 25-17. Larson scored five points in the opening set, while Fawcett had four points.
Netherlands used five unanswered points to establish a 7-2 lead in the second set. Hill scored a kill and ace on back-to-back points to cut the American deficit to 8-5. Netherlands stopped the mini-run with two points only to have USA score on kills from Larson and Dietzen around a Glass block to slice the gap to 10-8. Netherlands served an ace after siding out to push its margin to 12-8. After Netherlands stretched its lead to 22-14, Lowe slammed a kill, Larson followed with a block and Netherlands hit long to cut the gap to 22-17. However, Netherlands quickly reach set points at 24-17 with back-to-back points. Larson and Dietzen saved two set points with blocks before Netherlands ended the set at 25-19.
Netherlands grabbed a 3-1 lead in early in the third set with two aces. Team USA took the lead at 6-4 with a Fawcett kill and three straight Akinradewo blocks. Akinradewo downed a kill and served an ace around the first technical timeout to go up 9-6. Larson served an ace and Hill blocked Netherlands to inch the American lead to 13-8. Netherlands moved to within three at 17-14, but then served into the net and Lowe followed with a kill to give the American a five-point cushion at 19-14. Out of a Netherlands timeout, Dietzen added another block for a 20-14 advantage. Dietzen chipped in a kill and block to extend Team USA’s margin to 22-15. Team USA won the set at 25-17 with an Akinradewo kill, her sixth point of the set and ninth of the match.
Fawcett launched an ace to provide the Americans an early two-point cushion in the fourth set at 4-2, but Netherlands answered with two points to tie the score at 4-all. Akinradewo and Larson pounded back-to-back kills and Netherland hit long to give the Americans an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout. Netherlands scored three straight to level the score again at 9-all, then went into the lead at 11-10. Hill gave the Americans the lead back at 13-12 following a kill and Netherlands’ error. However, Netherlands reverse the lead to its side at 14-13. It was short-lived as Hill scored a kill and Netherlands committed back-to-back errors to produce an American 16-14 advantage at the second technical timeout. Netherlands regrouped to tie set at 17-all on an ace. Fawcett pounded a winner and Netherlands followed with its ninth error of the set for a 20-18 American lead. Larson added a third straight point with an ace at 21-18. Hill and Akinradewo produced consecutive kills to give Team USA match points at 24-20. Fawcett ended the set promptly with an ace at 25-20.