COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 3, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s National Team lost to Italy 25-21, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21 on Thursday and were eliminated from the FIVB World Grand Prix Finals Round taking place in Nanjing, China.

The Americans, one of six teams playing in the Finals Round with two three-team pools, were in a must-win situation to advance to Saturday’s semifinal round. A 3-0 or 3-1 win would have guaranteed a berth in the semifinals, while a 3-2 win would have kept their hopes alive depending on Friday’s Italy-Serbia match.

The top two teams in each three-team pool advances to the semifinals on Saturday. The World Grand Prix, in its 25th year, is the premier annual international women’s volleyball tournament. The World Grand Prix Finals awards first place with $600,000, followed by $300,000 for second place, $200,000 for third place, $100,000 for fourth place, and $50,000 for fifth and sixth place.

The U.S. Women return to the court at the end of August when they host Brazil at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena as part of the USA Volleyball Cup on Aug. 27 and Aug. 29.

Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana), who came off the bench in the opening set and started the final three for Team USA, scored a team-best 16 points with 15 kills on 39 swings and a block. Middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) added 13 points with seven kills on 17 attacks, a team-high five blocks and an ace. Outside Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Maryville, Illinois) contributed eight points with four kills, two blocks and two aces.

Middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota) pocketed five kills and an ace for six points. Outside hitter Madi Kingdon (Phoenix, Arizona) scored four kills on 11 attacks and a block while playing just the opening set. Outside hitter Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio), who started the final three sets in place of Kingdon, earned five kills in the loss. Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) added three points from her opposite position in the first set. Setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) rounded out the scoring with a kill and block for two points.

Libero Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California) was credited with 14 digs and 18 excellent receptions on 22 chances. Bartsch-Hackley tallied 30 excellent receptions on 37 chances, while Courtney was credited with 13 excellent receptions on 20 chances. Lloyd had 14 digs from her setter position.

The U.S. converted 33.3 percent of its attacks with a .182 hitting efficiency (44-24-132) behind Lloyd’s 14 running sets on 96 total set attempts. Italy converted 38.5 percent of its attacks into points with a .231 hitting efficiency (55-22-143). Italy out-blocked the U.S. 13-10 for the match as both teams had four aces. Italy held a 55-44 kill advantage.

The U.S. started Lloyd at setter, Dixon and Gibbemeyer at middle, Bartsch-Hackley and Kingdon at outside hitter and Murphy at opposite. Wong-Orantes was the libero. Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma) was part of the double-sub with Drews in the opening set. Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) was a serving sub in the final three sets.

Kindgon had a kill and block to give the Americans a 2-0 lead to start the first set, but Italy with eight of the next nine points to grab an 8-4 advantage at the first technical timeout. Italy continued to push ahead with a 5-1 run out of the technical timeout for a 13-5 advantage. Trailing 16-7 at the second technical timeout, the U.S. rolled off four straight including an ace by Gibbemeyer to close to 16-11. Drews put up a block to close the American deficit to 19-15. Team USA clawed to within 20-17 with consecutive Italian errors. However, Italy launched a 3-0 run to establish a 23-17 advantage and went on to win 25-21 after the Americans saved three set points.

The Americans picked up a 6-1 lead early in the second set which included a Dixon ace and Bartsch-Hackley block. The U.S. reached the technical timeout up 8-2 with a Drews back-row kill and Italian attack error. Italy came out of the break with five straight points to trim the gap to 8-7, then took the lead 11-10 on a 9-2 run. The U.S. responded with a Courtney kill between two Italian errors to stake an American 13-11 advantage. Italy knotted the set again at 14-all. The U.S. reached the second technical timeout up 16-14 following a Gibbemeyer block. Italy came out of the break with the next three points to regain the lead at 17-16. Team USA answered quickly by retaking the lead at 18-17 on a Drews kill. Gibbemeyer gave the U.S. a two-point cushion at 20-18 with a block, but Italy came back to level the score at 20-all. In trading runs, the U.S. went up 23-20 with kills from Drews and Dixon around an Italian error. The U.S. evened the match by winning the set 25-22 on an Italian service error.

The U.S. scored the first two points of the third set all on Italian errors, but the Italians scored six of the next seven points to take the lead at 6-3. Italy scored back-to-back aces to go up 9-4. Trailing 12-6, the U.S. cut the deficit to 12-8 with a Dixon kill and Bartsch-Hackley block. However, Italy jumped its lead to 15-8 with three straight. The U.S. trimmed the deficit to 22-18 with a Gibbemeyer kill and Bartsch-Hackley block heading into an Italian timeout. The Americans moved to within three at 23-20 with an Italian error and Bartsch-Hackley ace. The U.S. saved two set points with a Drews kill and Italian error to close to 24-22 but Italian closed it out at 25-22.

Italy earned the first three points of the fourth set, but the U.S. benefitted from two Italian errors to close to 3-2. Italy went into the technical timeout leading 8-4. Out of the break, Drews downed a kill and Gibbemeyer slammed an overpass to cut the gap to 8-6. Team USA evened the set at 10-all with Bartsch-Hackley scoring a kill and block around a Drews kill. The Americans went in front 11-10 on an Italian error. Italy went back in front 13-12, but the U.S. went into the second technical timeout up 16-15 with kills from Bartsch-Hackley and Lloyd. Out of the break, the U.S. increased its advantage to 17-15 for a two-point cushion. Italy scored six straight points to take the lead back at 23-19, then won the match 25-21.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB World Grand Prix Finals
# – Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
1 – Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Penn State, Edmond, Oklahoma)
3 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, California, Bonsall, California)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
5 – Sarah Wilhite (OH, 6-1, Minnesota, Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (M, 6-2, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota)
9 – Madi Kingdon (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Elkhart, Indiana, Purdue)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Florida, Wilmington, Illinois)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Maryville, Illinois)
17 – Megan Courtney (OH, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
19 – Hannah Tapp (M, 6-2, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
20 – Amanda Benson (L, 5-7, Oregon, Litchfield Park, Arizona)
21 – Paige Tapp (M, 6-1, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Tama Miyashiro, Erin Virtue
Consultant Coach: Jon Newman-Gonchar
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Doctor: Dr. William Briner
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz

FIVB World Grand Prix Finals Round Schedule
Aug. 2: Serbia def. USA 25-22, 25-17, 23-25, 18-25, 15-11
Aug. 2: China def. Brazil 25-22, 25-17, 29-27
Aug. 3: Italy def. USA 25-21, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21
Aug. 3: Brazil vs. Netherlands, 7:30 a.m. ET (aired on Olympic Channel live)
Aug. 4: Serbia vs. Italy, 3 a.m. ET (aired on Olympic Channel live)
Aug. 4: China vs. Netherlands, 7:30 a.m. ET (aired on Olympic Channel live)
Aug. 5: Semifinal 1, 3 a.m. ET (aired on Olympic Channel at 1 p.m. ET)
Aug. 5: Semifinal 2, 8 a.m. ET (aired on Olympic Channel at 3 p.m. ET)
Aug. 6: Bronze-Medal Match, 3 a.m. ET (aired on Olympic Channel at 1 p.m. ET)
Aug. 6: Gold-Medal Match, 8 a.m. ET (aired on Olympic Channel at 3 p.m. ET)