TOKYO (Aug. 5, 2021) – It’s not a match that the U.S. Women’s National Team enjoys talking about, but they know it will be tough to avoid it.
On Aug. 18, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, the U.S. Women lost to Serbia in the semifinals of the Olympic Games in a tough five-set match. The U.S. won the first set, but Serbia took the next two. The U.S. won the fourth set 25-16 and led the fifth set 11-8 before Serbia came back to win 15-13.
The U.S. Women (5-1) will get a chance to avenge the loss on Thursday night when they play Serbia (5-1) in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympic Games. The match starts at 9 p.m. PT and will be live on the USA Network.
The 2016 loss was devastating to the U.S. Women’s National Team, which was hoping to win its first Olympic gold medal in Rio. It went on to win the bronze.
U.S. Team Captain Jordan Larson said she did bring up the loss with the eight U.S. players competing at their first Olympic Games because she knew they would hear about it.
“At the end of the day, as Sue (Enquist, a team consultant coach) talks about, the game has no memory,” Larson said. “It’s a new game, it’s a new day, it’s five years later.”
Serbia went on to lose the 2016 Olympic gold medal match to China. But it came back in 2018 to win the FIVB World Championship. The U.S. record against Serbia since 2016 is 4-2. Most recently, it beat the Europeans in the preliminary round of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League, but Serbia did not bring its top team.
Serbia’s top team was led by opposite Tijana Bošković in 2016 and today. In fact, she is the leading scorer of this year’s Olympic Games with 140 points in six matches. She is also the leading attacker with 124 kills.
“Nobody shuts her down,” U.S. Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “Nobody slows her down tremendously. We just have to try to contain her.
“Serbia also has one of the world’s great setters in Maja Ognjenovic. She’s been playing at a really elite level for years. She’s very tricky and unorthodox.”
Unlike Serbia, the U.S. Women (5-1) have had very balanced scoring. Their scoring leader is still opposite Jordan Thompson (78 points), who has missed the last two matches after being injured in a pool play match against Russia. She is followed by outside hitters Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (68 points) and Jordan Larson (64 points).
Both Thompson and setter Jordyn Poulter, who was injured in the team’s final pool play match against Italy, are back in training with the team.
In other good news, Bartsch-Hackley is leading all players of the tournament in successful receptions, averaging 19.3 per match and libero Justine Wong Orantes is third among diggers with 69 in six matches.
U.S. Women’s Roster for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
1 Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Edmond, Okla., Penn State Univ.)
2 Jordyn Poulter (S, 6-2, Aurora, Colo., Univ. of Illinois)
4 Justine Wong Orantes (L, 5-6, Cypress, Calif., Univ. of Nebraska)
10 Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., Univ. of Nebraska)
11 Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Elkhart, Ind., Purdue Univ.)
12 Jordan Thompson (OPP, 6-4, Edina, Minn., Univ. of Cincinnati)
14 Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Champaign, Ill., Univ. of Illinois)
15 Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Portland, Ore., Pepperdine, Univ.)
16 Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson (M, 6-3, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Stanford Univ.)
22 Haleigh Washington (M, 6-3, Colorado Springs, Colo., Penn State Univ.)
23 Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Univ. of Nebraska)
24 Chiaka Ogbogu (M, 6-2, Coppell, Texas, Univ. of Texas)
Head Coach Karch Kiraly
Asst. Coach Erin Virtue
Asst. Coach Tama Miyashiro
Asst. Coach Luka Slabe
Performance Analyst Jeff Liu
Sport Physiologist & Team Leader Jimmy Stitz
Physical Therapist & ATC Kara Kessans
Consultant Coach Sue Enquist
Consultant Coach Marv Dunphy
Team Doctor Dr. Chris Lee
Second Scout Justin Chang
Olympic Schedule (All times PT)
Jul 24: USA def Argentina, 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-20)
July 26: USA def China, 3-0 (29-27, 25-22, 25-21)
July 29: USA def Turkey, 3-2 (25-19, 25-20, 17-25, 20-25, 15-12)
July 30: Russian Olympic Committee def USA, 3-0 (25-20, 25-12, 25-19)
Aug. 1: USA def Italy, 3-2 (21-25, 25-16, 25-27, 25-16, 15-12)
Aug. 3: QF USA def Dominican Republic, 3-0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-19)
Aug. 5 at 9p PT: SF USA vs Serbia
Aug. 7/8 Medal matches