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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 11, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Team, the defending FIVB World Champions, dropped its second consecutive match of the FIVB World Championship 25-16, 25-23, 20-25, 25-16 to Italy on Thursday in Osaka, Japan, which put the Americans in a wait-and-see mode on whether they advance to the Third Round (Final Six).

Quick Sets

  • Key Stat: Italy out-blocked the USA 15-7 and held a 6-2 service ace margin in controlling the match.
  • Key Note: Despite the loss, the U.S. qualified for the Third Round (Final Six) later in the day as Russia lost to China in the final match of the Second Round.
  • Records: USA (7-2, 19 points), Italy (9-0, 27 points)
  • World Rankings: No. 2 USA, No. 7 Italy
  • 2018 Season Record: 33-6
  • Up Next: The U.S. will compete in the Third Round held Oct. 14-16 in Nagoya. The Third Round has two pools of three, and the USA is grouped with Netherlands and China. Top four teams of Third Round advance to semifinals on Oct. 19.

Entering the match, the U.S. needed to win the contest or have Russia lose to China later in the day. Both Italy and China had already secured two of Pool F’s three berths into the Third Round (Final Six) based on results from Wednesday, which included China defeating the USA in three sets.

China prevailed 25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20 over Russia, which ticketed the Americans into the Third Round. Team USA opened the 2018 World Championship with seven consecutive victories before losing to China and Italy. The Americans would have been the first reigning World Champion to finish outside the top six in the next World Championship if they did not qualify for the Third Round.

Italy (9-0) closed out the Second Round as the only undefeated team remaining in the 24-team World Championship. China (8-2) will advance as the second-seeded team out of Pool F. Team USA will be the third seed from Pool F.

Based on the drawing of lots of the Third Round, below are the pools for the Final Six. The U.S. will play China on Sunday, Oct. 14, followed by Netherlands on Monday, Oct. 15. Both matches are scheduled for 3:10 a.m. ET.

  • Pool G: Italy (Pool F 1st place); Japan (Pool E 2nd Place); Serbia (Pool E 3rd Place)
  • Pool H: Netherlands (Pool E 1st Place); China (Pool F 2nd Place); USA (Pool F 3rd Place)

Italy built a 9-4 lead over the U.S. in the opening set on a 7-1 run and cruised to a 25-16 victory. Italy back from a 21-18 deficit to win 25-23 by scoring seven of the final nine points. Team USA opened the third set with an 8-4 advantage, and after Italy came to within one at 12-11, the Americans did not allow Italy to score on its serve the rest of the way for a 25-20 victory. Italy established a 7-3 lead in the fourth set and eased into the 25-16 victory.

“(Italian) Coach Davide has been doing a very nice job and I respect his work. We are quite disappointed with this loss.” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “Volleyball is played by human beings who are not perfect – thank God for that. Both China and Italy played really nice, strong volleyball and put us in difficult positions.”

U.S. outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) scored a team-high 14 points, all on kills from 26 attacks. Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) charted 11 kills on 30 attacks and a block for 12 points as she started the final three sets. Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) added six kills and three blocks for nine points.

“I think it is obviously a very disappointing loss for us,” Akinradewo said. “You don’t want to go into a match and allow another team dictate your destiny. Hats off to Italy. I think they are playing a really disciplined block defense. We got ourselves in some situations where we got stuck in some rotations. I think Italy played well, and we definitely didn’t play our best.”

Middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) contributed five kills on 10 swings and a block for six points. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois), who started at outside and moved to opposite in the final two sets, scored three kills and a block for four points. Sett Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) tallied a kill and block, while opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) pocketed two kills on three attacks in starting the second set. Opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) scored two kills, while both Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma) and Sarah Wilhite Parson (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) rounded out the scoring with an ace each.

Libero Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) handled 29 of the team’s 82 receptions with a 38 positive percent. She added 13 digs in the match. Hill was 63 percent positive on 19 chances, and Larson handled 27 receptions with 12 digs. Bartsch-Hackley was unofficially credited with seven digs and a 43 positive reception percent.

The U.S. converted 35 percent of its attacks into points with a .233 hitting efficiency (45-25-129). The Italians converted at a 42 percent clip and had a .273 hitting efficiency (54-19-128).

Italy’s offense and defense both dominated with a 54-44 kill advantage and 15-7 block margin. The Italians out-served the Americans 6-2 and had a 57-50 dig margin.

Italy sensation Paolo Egonu led all scorers with 33 points via 25 kills on 50 swings, five blocks and three aces. Miryam Sylla added 22 points on 16 kills via 33 attacks, four blocks and two aces.

Italy holds a 6-3 record against the Americans in previous World Championship matches, including the last six meetings. Italy had defeated the U.S. 3-2 in the 2002 gold-medal match for its only World Championship title, as well as during the first match of the 2014 Third Round opener before Team USA won three consecutive to win its first-ever World Championship.

The U.S. started Bartsch-Hackley and Larson at outside hitter, Akinradewo and GIbbemeyer at middle, Lowe at opposite, Lloyd at setter, Robinson at libero. Hill started the final three sets at outside hitter. Murphy started in place of Lowe to start the second set, then Bartsch-Hackley started at opposite the final two sets.

Italy scored five straight points to stake a 7-3 margin early in the opening set. The Italians stretched their lead to 9-4 with points on each side of the first technical timeout. Team USA cut the gap to 10-7 with a kill and block from Gibbemeyer. Italy raised its lead to six at 14-8 with three unanswered points. The Americans chipped the deficit down to 14-10 with a Lowe kill and Italian error. The Italian lead inched to 17-11 with back-to-back points around the second technical timeout. Italy continued its climb to the win, going up 22-14 with consecutive points. Larson slammed a kill and a Bartsch-Hackley block narrowed the gap to 22-16. Italy scored the final three points for a 25-16 victory.

After Italy scored the first two points of the second set, Murphy slammed a kill and Italy hit long to tie the set at 2-all. The U.S. went in front 4-3 with an Akinradewo block and Italy error. Team USA gained a two-point cushion at 6-4 with an Akinradewo kill and Italian error. The Americans reached the first technical timeout up 8-5 with a Larson kill after an Italian service error. Italy came out of the break with consecutive points to close to 8-7, then tied the set at 10-all. Team USA took a two-point edge 14-12 with a Hill kill and Akinradewo block heading into an Italian timeout. Out of the break, Italy hit long to push the American lead to 15-12. Italy scored back-to-back points to narrow the gap to 15-14. Team USA resumed its three-point cushion at 18-15 with a Lloyd kill and Hancock ace. Italy picked up five straight points to take a 23-21 advantage. Team USA saved one set point on a video reversal but Italy finished the set at 25-23.

The U.S. jumped to a 2-0 lead in the third set with an Italian service error and Hill kill, but Italy answered with two points to tie the set at 2-all. The Americans responded with a 3-0 run including a Bartsch-Hackley kill around two errors at 5-2. Team USA went into the first technical timeout up 8-4 on back-to-back Italy errors. The American lead was cut in half at 8-6 on consecutive Italy points. Italy closed to within one at 12-11 with two straight points. Team USA answered with an Akinradewo block and Hill kill to raise the lead to 14-11. The Americans stretched their lead to 17-13 with an Akinradewo kill and Gibbemeyer block. The U.S. reached set points at 24-19 with an Akinradewo kill and Italy error. Larson ended the set with a kill at 25-20.

Italy scored three straight to take a 4-2 advantage in the fourth set, then increased its margin to 7-3 with another 3-0 run. The U.S. sliced the deficit to 7-5 with a Hill kill and Italian error. Italy increased its margin to 11-7 with back-to-back points, then extended the advantage to 15-9 on a 3-0 run. Italy increased its lead to 17-10 with points on each side of the second technical timeout. Italy ran off four unanswered points to stake a 21-11 lead. Wilhite Parsons served an ace to narrow the gap to 21-13. Italy closed out the set at 25-16.