ANAHEIM, Calif. (Aug. 29, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s National Team learned a few things Tuesday evening as it lost to Brazil 26-24, 25-18, 19-25, 25-15 to split a pair of USA Volleyball Cup matches in the Anaheim Convention Center Arena. Anaheim serves as the official host city for the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Teams.
On Sunday, the U.S. swept Brazil 25-21, 25-14, 29-27 before the South Americans won a bonus fourth set 25-22. Both the U.S. Women and Brazil will head to Japan later this week to compete in the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup, a six-team round-robin tournament from Sept. 5-10. The tournament serves as the final event for the Americans in 2017.
U.S. Women’s Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly feels the team’s level of consistency during the final match of the USA Volleyball Cup was not a surprise against Brazil, and that the team will need to work on that heading into the World Grand Champions Cup.
“I think we learned that it is an inconsistent process,” Kiraly said. “We probably looked a little better on Sunday than today. Brazil served better today and put us in some passing troubles. We had a lot of misconnections, which I am not completely surprised at because our players have not been working together that much at the same time with the group traveling to World Grand Prix. Our offense wasn’t clicking particularly well, and we will have to clean that up a bit starting with better passing and we only have a few training sessions to do that before we start World Grand Champions Cup on Tuesday against China.”
Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) came off the bench to start the final two sets and scored a team-best 15 points with 12 kills on 21 attacks and three blocks. Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida) tallied nine kills on 20 attacks, three blocks and an ace for 13 points. Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) added 10 kills on 37 swings, one block and one ace for 12 points.
“Our slide really struggled tonight. A bright spot was when Annie (Drews) came in, we got her going behind the setter,” Kiraly said. “But we were having troubles connecting between setter and hitter on the slide. That is out of character for us. But we will be fine.”
Middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) added eight points with kills and three blocks, while outside Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Maryville, Illinois) contributed eight points, all on kills from 10 attacks. Opposite Aiyana Whitney (Norwood, New Jersey), making her National Team debut and starting the first two sets, tallied seven kills in the match. Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) pocketed three kills and an ace for four point in starting the first two sets. Setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) started the first two sets and scored two kills before Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) started the final two sets.
Though the U.S. lost the final match of the USA Volleyball Cup, Lloyd is still excited about the potential the team has for the future starting with the World Grand Champions Cup that begins next week.
“I learned that we have a ton of potential but we have a lot of work to do still, and I am excited about that. The moments when we lose our serve-and-pass game a little bit, it is pretty obvious. Brazil came out and served tough tonight and that put us in some trouble. I am excited to get in the gym tomorrow and for us to learn from this and as a group get better. I think we have a lot of upside.”
Hill ended up handling a team-best 35 receptions with a 63 positive percent, while Bartsch-Hackley was credited with a 59 positive reception percent on 32 chances. As a team, the Americans were 60 percent positive on 89 receptions. Libero Megan Courtney totaled 15 receptions with a 60 positive reception percent in her second National Team start at libero.
Brazil out-blocked Team USA 14-9 and held a slim 5-4 edge in aces. Both teams converted 38 percent of their attacks. The Americans held a .174 hitting efficiency (56-30-149), while Brazil held a .246 hitting efficiency (49-17-130) as the U.S. committed 30 attack errors.
The U.S. overcame a 20-15 deficit in the opening set and had a set point before Brazil came back to win 26-24 with the final three points. Brazil broke a 9-all tie in the second set with a 6-0 run to take a 15-9 advantage, then went on to win 25-18. Team USA went up 9-2 in the third set and never let up in winning 25-19. Brazil responded by going up 12-6 early in the fourth set and cruised into the victory at 25-15.
The USA Volleyball Cup was initiated in 2013 and the U.S. Women have played in the event every year since except for 2016 due to a constricted Olympic year schedule. Team USA hosted Japan in the inaugural event in 2013, followed by Brazil in 2014 and China in 2015. During the 2014 USA Volleyball Cup, the Americans defeated Brazil in all four matches of the series with two matches in Southern California and two matches in Hawaii.
Sport Court is the official athletic flooring for the USA Volleyball Cup.
After Brazil took an 8-4 lead into the first technical timeout of the opening set, the U.S. went in front 10-9 on a 6-1 run capped by consecutive blocks from Larson and Adams. Brazil answered with a 7-3 run to take a 16-13 lead into the second technical timeout. The U.S. called timeout after falling behind 20-15. The U.S. cut the deficit to 20-19 on a 4-0 run capped by an Adams block. Larson leveled the score at 21-all with an ace, then Adams put up her third block of the set to put Team USA in front 22-21. The Americans reached set point at 24-23 on a Brazil service error, but the South Americans scored the final three points to win 26-24.
Brazil grabbed an early 6-2 advantage in the second set. After falling behind 9-5, the Americans leveled the score at 9-all on a 4-0 run that including a Lloyd overpass kill, Hill ace and Akinradewo block. Brazil answered with six unanswered points to stake a 15-9 advantage. Team USA sliced an 18-12 deficit down to 19-15 following an Akinradewo kill. Brazil raised its lead to seven at 23-16 on a 3-0 run, then won the set 25-18.
Drews started the third set with three kills and block to give the Americans 4-0 lead. Bartsch-Hackley connected for consecutive kills and Akinradewo put up a block followed by a kill to increase the American lead to 9-2. Team USA reached the second technical timeout leading 16-7 on an Akinradewo kill. Drews connected for an ace off the tape after a Bartsch-Hackley kill to extend the American lead to 18-8. Brazil narrowed the deficit to 21-15 heading into a USA timeout. The U.S. finished the set at 25-19 with a Drews kill.
Brazil took a 12-6 lead in the fourth set on back-to-back aces as part of a 5-0 run. Brazil stretched its advantage to 18-9 and went on to win 25-15.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for USA Volleyball Cup
# – Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
3 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, California, Bonsall, California)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
5 – Rachael Adams (M, 6-2, Texas, Cincinnati, Ohio)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (M, 6-2, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota)
9 – Madi Kingdon (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Maryville, Illinois)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Portland, Oregon)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (M, 6-3, Stanford, Plantation, Florida)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
29 – Aiyana Whitney (OPP, 6-5, Penn State, Norwood, New Jersey)
Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Tama Miyashiro, Marv Dunphy
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Hicks
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz
Mental Performance Coach: Traci Statler