MURRIETA, California (May 20, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team played a four-set Red-Blue intrasquad match in front of a sold-out, electrifying atmosphere of 1,600 fans at Murrieta Mesa High School Friday night Murrieta, California.
While many of the players switched from red to blue jerseys and vice versa, the set scores remained close throughout the match – 25-22, 27-25, 34-36, 27-25 – in a contest that was pre-determined to go four sets.
“I loved the way we battled tonight,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “Everybody fought hard, even when there were leads. The team that fell in the hole, worked really hard to get back. We had some fantastic battles.”
“There was constant noise for the most part, which is really important because all the venues we will compete in this summer will be noise,” U.S. Women’s National Team captain Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania) said. “I think the school district did a phenomenal job of promoting it. It is awesome that the school spirit is here at Murrieta Mesa. What an awesome event to come and play in.”
Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) led all scorers with 21 points, including three aces and three blocks while converting 41 percent of her attacks with a 41 positive reception percent. Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) and Alexis Crimes (Rancho Cucamonga, California) each tallied 17 points. As part of her 17 points, Crimes turned in an eye-opening 11 blocks. Opposite Nicole Fawcett contributed 13 points. Opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) pocketed 16 points.
Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson (Bartlett, Illinois) chipped in 12 points, including four blocks. Middles Dietzen, Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Michigan) each pocketed nine points – and Dietzen amassed four blocks. Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) and outside hitter Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Illinois) charted eight points.
Outside hitter Krista Vansant (Redlands, California) produced five points, while middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) tacked on four points. Setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) added four points, while setters Alisha Glass (Leland, Michigan) and Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minnesota), two of four setters to play in the Red-Blue, rounded out the scoring with two points.
For the match, the split squads combined for 30 blocks and 14 aces. Team USA had a 40.4 kill percent while using four different setters.
“I think this evening our offense was crisper,” Dietzen said. “It was pretty hard as a blocker to be able to close the block with the speed of our offense. I thought our setters did a great job at that.”
As for the crowd, Kiraly said the atmosphere was wonderful for the team to compete in prior to heading into the FIVB World Grand Prix and later the Olympic Games this summer.
“What a wonderful atmosphere and reception that Forza1 and Murrieta Mesa High School provided for us. An amazing atmosphere – very Olympic-like – including making a lot of noise like we can expect in Brazil, China and Thailand. They helped us train for some conditions that we can expect in tournaments later this summer.”
And to push the envelope even further, the U.S. coaching staff encouraged the crowd at various points to cheer for one side of the net, but booing the other side of the net to replicate the environment of playing outside the USA.
“We thought they could help us be better,” Kiraly said. “Normally crowds have a little trouble when it is USA versus USA because they do not have a team to cheer more for. When they can make us better by cheering against us like for another team, I thought it was good for us. Our servers handled it really well, and it was good preparation. When we have a full crowd and good participation like that, it works out.”
The third U.S. Red-Blue intrasquad match is on May 27 at Santiago Canyon College in Orange County, California. The U.S. Women will play at 6 p.m. and will be followed by the U.S. Men’s Red-Blue in a rare doubleheader with both USA squads.