COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (June 12, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team lost to China 25-20, 25-19, 15-25, 25-23 Sunday afternoon as the top two teams in the FIVB world rankings met in the third match of FIVB World Grand Prix Pool A in Ningbo, China. Team USA entered the match ranked No. 1, while China is No. 2 in the world.
Team USA, aiming to win its seventh World Grand Prix title and fifth in seven years, falls to 2-1 in this year’s World Grand Prix. The U.S. returns home next weekend to host the World Grand Prix Pool E weekend pod at Long Beach State University’s Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California. The Americans host Germany on June 17, followed by No. 5 Japan on June 18 and No. 10 Turkey on June 19.
Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida) led Team USA with 16 points with 10 kills on 22 swings, four blocks and two aces. Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois), who came off the bench to start the final two sets, contributed 13 points with 10 kills on 25 attacks, two aces and a block. Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) added nine points with six kills, two blocks and an ace.
Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) tallied nine points with seven kills and two blocks in starting the first two sets. Middle Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania) started the final two sets and scored four kills on eight attacks and four blocks for eight points. Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Illinois), who started the final two sets, pocketed seven kills on 11 swings.
Middle Alexis Crimes (Rancho Cucamonga, California) started the first two sets and scored two kills and two blocks for four points. Opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) tacked on two kills and an ace in starting the first two sets. Setter Carli Lloyd rounded out the scoring with two blocks.
Team USA out-blocked China 17-15, but the hosts held advantages in kills (51-48) and aces (7-6). The Americans also committed one error more than the Chinese, 17-16. China’s backrow held a 30-17 dig advantage and had a 27-18 excellent reception margin in which the Americans struggled in the category in the first two sets.
The U.S. converted 35.8 percent of its attacks into points with a .231 hitting efficiency (48-17-134) as Lloyd was credited with 28 excellent running sets on 102 set attempts in the match. In contrast, the Chinese converted 39.5 percent of their attacks as part of a .240 hitting efficiency (51-20-129).
Libero Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) led the Team USA defense with seven digs, while Lloyd added three. Larson was credited with a team-high seven excellent receptions on 29 chances, while Banwarth provided five excellent receptions on 12 chances. Robinson stabilized the passing from the third set on with three excellent receptions on 24 errorless chances.
China took an early 6-2 lead in the opening set and looked poised to go up 7-2, but the U.S. won a challenge that started a 4-0 run that included two Akinradewo aces around a Lloyd block and Chinese error to tie the set at 6-all. China went on a 4-0 run to establish a 12-8 advantage prompting USA’s second timeout, then came out of the break with a block to push the gap to 13-8. The U.S. closed to 21-19 as Hill capped a 3-0 run with a block, but China was able to hold off the Americans for a 25-20 victory.
The U.S. overcame a 4-1 deficit early in the second set with a 5-0 spurt with Lowe scoring a kill and ace to give the Americans a 6-4 lead. China immediately answered with a 3-0 run capped by an ace off the net to take a 7-6 advantage. With China leading 15-11, Team USA rallied to regain the lead at 16-15 on a 5-0 run with Akinradewo providing a kill and block and Hill two kills on Lowe’s serve. China came out of the second technical timeout with three consecutive points to regain the lead at 18-16. China raised its margin to 22-18 with three unanswered points and went on to win the second set 25-19 with the final three points.
With Robinson, Murphy and Dietzen moving in to start the third set, the U.S. jumped out to a 5-1 lead as Murphy scored two quick kills and an ace. China cut the deficit to 7-6 on three straight points. Larson and Dietzen answered with consecutive blocks and Larson added a kill to raise the Americans’ margin to 10-6. Team USA upped its lead to 15-8 with two Murphy kills, Robinson kill, Dietzen block after a China error. Murphy scored a kill and ace in a 5-0 run lifting the U.S. in front 22-11. After China closed to 23-15 with three straight points, the Americans finished the set at 25-15 with kills from Murphy and Dietzen.
Team USA gained an 8-6 lead at the first technical timeout of the fourth set as Dietzen put up a block and Murphy powered down a kill as part of a 3-0 run. China ran off four straight points including a successful challenge to go up 13-11 prompting a USA timeout, then extended the gap to 19-15 with a 4-1 scoring spurt. The Americans sliced the gap to 19-18 as Larson slammed a kill and served an ace around a China error. Robinson tied the set at 19-all with a kill and Dietzen gave the U.S. the lead at 20-19 with an overpass kill out of a China timeout. China regained momentum with four straight points to reach match point at 24-21 and won the set 25-23.
The Americans entered the match having won 15 of their last 16 World Grand Prix matches dating back to 2015, only losing to China in five sets on July 18 last year in Hong Kong. In addition, The U.S. and China have now played each 34 times in the World Grand Prix, third most among all head-to-head matchup. The most recent USA-China match in World Grand Prix action was on July 26 last year as Team USA concluded the Final Round undefeated to capture its sixth World Grand Prix title.
Entering the match, China had won only two of the last eight World Grand Prix meetings with the Americans. Team USA swept China during last year’s FIVB World Cup, the only loss by the Asian team as it went on to win the tournament and the Americans finished with the bronze.
China snapped the Americans’ 12-match win streak in its last four competitions including 2015 FIVB World Cup, 2015 NORCECA Championship and 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament. The Americans have won six of their last seven tournaments they have entered dating back to earning gold at the 2014 FIVB World Championship.
The Americans conclude the World Grand Prix preliminary phase with three matches in Hong Kong. The U.S. faces Germany on June 24, the No. 14 Netherlands on June 25 and host China on June 26.
The FIVB World Grand Prix schedule has each of the 12 teams in Group 1 playing three preliminary round weekends in various cities before the top five teams plus Thailand compete in the Final Round July 6-10 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Carli Lloyd (S), Karsta Lowe (OPP), Foluke Akinradewo (M), Alexis Crimes (M), Jordan Larson (OH), Kim Hill (OH), Kayla Banwarth (L)
Points: Foluke Akinradewo 16, Kelly Murphy 13, Jordan Larson 9, Kim Hill 9, Christa Dietzen 8, Kelsey Robinson 7, Alexis Crimes 4, Karsta Lowe 3, Carli Lloyd 2.
Kills-Attacks: Foluke Akinradewo 10-22, Kelly Murphy 10-25, Jordan Larson 6-25, Kim Hill 7-22, Christa Dietzen 4-8, Kelsey Robinson 7-11, Alexis Crimes 2-7, Karsta Lowe 2-13, Carli Lloyd 0-1. USA 48-134, China 51-129
Blocks: Foluke Akinradewo 4, Christa Dietzen 4, Jordan Larson 2, Kim Hill 2, Alexis Crimes 2, Carli Lloyd 2 Kelly Murphy 1. USA 17, China 15.
Aces: Foluke Akinradewo 2, Kelly Murphy 2, Jordan Larson 1, Karsta Lowe 1. USA 6, China 7.
Digs: Kayla Banwarth 7, Carli Lloyd 3, Kim Hill 2, Alisha Glass 1, Jordan Larson 1, Kelly Murphy 1, Kelsey Robinson 1, Karsta Lowe 1. USA 17, China 30.