COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 2, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Team overcame a slow start against the Republic of Korea to win 19-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-18 on Wednesday in Kobe, Japan, to remain undefeated in the FIVB World Championship Pool C.

Quick Sets

  • Key Stat: The U.S. scored 30 points in the match from non-starters with opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) doing most of the damage with 19 points.
  • Key Note: Team USA suffered its first set loss of the 2018 FIVB World Championship. However, the Americans recovered to win the match and qualify for the second round with two matches remaining in the first round.
  • Records: USA (3-0, 9 points), Korea (0-3, 1 point)
  • World Rankings: USA No. 2, Korea No. 10
  • 2018 Season Record: 29-4
  • Up Next: USA vs. No. 16 Thailand (2-1, 6 points) on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 6:20 a.m. ET

With the victory over Korea, Team USA leads Pool C with a 3-0 record and has qualified for the second round with two matches remaining in the first round. The top four teams in each of the four six-team first-round pools advance to the crossover second round. Pool C will face the top four teams from Pool B in the second round Oct. 7-11 in Osaka. Second round teams will carry over first-round records and points.

“It is exciting,” said U.S. captain Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) on the U.S. qualifying for the second round. “it is one of our goals to continue through this tournament and be here for a long time. But we still have two matches in the first round, so I think it is important for us to keep getting better and focus on those two matches.”

“I want to congratulate Team Korea,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “They played with great fighting spirit and they played really hard and had lots of strong serving pressure, but our team responded well. I don’t know if either team played their best but both teams played very hard. Every time we put the uniform on in the world championship, it will be a challenge.”

Korea used a 7-0 run to take an early 11-4 lead in the opening set and denied the Americans a comeback in a 25-19 victory. Team USA started the second set with a 10-4 advantage thanks to three blocks and two aces, then held on to the lead for a 25-21 victory. The Americans trailed 6-2 in the third set, but erupted for a 9-2 scoring run to establish an 18-14 advantage en route to winning 25-21. The U.S. built a 14-10 lead in the fourth set, then held off Korea in the end with a 5-0 run to cap a 25-18 victory.

“Korea came out strong,” Larson said. “We knew they were a great team. I am really proud of my team for fighting through it. They had some great servers. I thought we did a good job of managing that throughout the game.”

Murphy, who came off the bench in the opening set and started the final three sets, paced the American offense with 19 points via 17 kills on 28 swings, one block and one ace. Middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) charted seven kills on 12 swings, a match-high five blocks and two aces for 14 points. Middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota) chalked up 10 points with seven kills on 17 attacks, two aces and a block. Outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) totaled 10 points, all on kills.

“I think tonight’s game was a good team effort,” Adams said. “We had many people coming off the bench ready to fill a role where they were needed. Korea is a tough team, and they throw a very good offense at us. It called for a lot of scrappy play and communication on the team. I think we did a good job responding as a team to what Korea threw our way, and I am proud of our effort tonight.”

Larson (Hooper, Nebraska), who started the final three sets at outside hitter, pocketed nine kills on 28 attacks in the victory. Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois) notched six kills on 14 swings in the opening set. Opposite Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California) produced four kills while setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) added one kill and one block for two points. Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma), the double-sub setter in all four sets, and Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) rounded out the scoring with an ace apiece.

Libero Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) tallied 16 digs and a 69 positive reception percent on 16 chances. Lloyd produced a team-leading 21 digs and Larson chipped in 19 digs. Hill handled a team-leading 34 receptions with a 44 positive percent and added 16 digs.

The U.S. converted 38 percent of its attacks into points with a .256 hitting efficiency (60-19-160) behind the setting of Lloyd and Hancock. The American defense held the Koreans to a 33 kill percent and .214 hitting efficiency (51-18-154).

While Korea led in both blocks (10-8) and aces (8-7), the U.S. held a sizable 61-50 margin in kills. The Americans secured 18 points on Korea errors and committed just 17 mistakes of their own.

The U.S. has now defeated the Republic of Korea in each of its last 11 head-to-head meetings in major world-level events.

Korea’s Park Jeongah scored a match-high 26 points in the loss and Kim Yeon Koung chipped in 17 points.

The U.S. started Bartsch-Hackley and Hill at outside hitter, Adams and Dixon at middle, Lowe at opposite and Lloyd at setter, Robinson at libero. Murphy and Larson started the final three sets. Wilhite was a serving sub in all four sets and totaled seven serves.

Earlier this year Korea finished 12th in the 16-team FIVB Volleyball Nations League in which Team USA captured gold.

Korea scored eight unanswered points, including two aces, to take an early 11-4 advantage in the opening set. The U.S. broke the run with kills from Hill and Bartsch-Hackley to close the gap to 11-6. However, Korea scored three straight points to extend the lead to 14-6. Adams and Bartsch-Hackley hammered kills to bring Team USA within 14-8. Bartsch-Hackley downed consecutive kills to narrow the deficit to 20-16. Adams and Bartsch-Hackley nailed consecutive kills and Korea hit long to cut the gap 20 21-18.

The U.S. scored the first two points of the second set with a Korea error and Murphy block, Korea answered with consecutive points to tie the set at 2-all. Murphy followed with a block and two kills, then Adams put up a block to produce an American 6-2 lead. Team USA reached the first technical timeout leading 8-3 with an ace by Adams after a Korea attack error. Murphy served an ace after a Korea service error to push the advantage to 10-4. Korea chipped three points off the deficit at 10-7. Team USA extended its lead to 13-7 with kills from Hill and Larson around a Korea attack error. Dixon served consecutive aces after a Larson kill to put the Americans in front 16-8 at the second technical timeout. The U.S. inched the lead to 18-9 with a Larson kill and Korea error, but Korea used a 5-1 run to move within five at 19-14. Hill and Dixon slammed kills to push the lead to 22-15. Korea served an ace as part of a 3-0 run to cut the deficit to 22-18. Korea saved two set points but served long to give the Americans a 25-21 victory.

Korea ran off three straight points to grab a 4-1 advantage to start set three, then pushed the lead to 6-2 to prompt a USA timeout. Murphy, Dixon and Hill pounded consecutive kills to close the gap to 6-5 leading to a Korea timeout. Korea gained a three-point edge at 9-6 following a block. The U.S. tied the set at 12-all with kills from Adams and Murphy around a Korea attack error. The U.S. went into the lead at 14-13 with a Hancock ace after a Murphy kill. Team USA reached the second technical timeout leading 16-14 after a Dixon kill and Korea back-row attack error. Out of the break, Korea hit into the net and Lowe scorched an attack at 18-14. Larson picked up consecutive kills to grow the lead to 20-15 at Korea’s second timeout. Team USA extended the lead to 22-16 with an Adams kill and Murphy block. Korea sliced the deficit to four at 23-21 with four consecutive points. Murphy and Dixon closed out the set with kills at 25-21.

Korea scored the first two points of the fourth set, but then committed consecutive errors to level the set at 2-all. The U.S. went in front 6-4 with a Dixon kill, Lloyd block and Korea error. Korea stopped the 3-0 run with consecutive points to level the set at 6-all. The Americans reached the first technical timeout leading 8-6 after a Hill kill and Dixon block. Adams and Murphy hammered kills to lift the American lead to 12-9 at a Korean timeout. Adams served an ace after a Hill kill to extend the American lead to 14-10. Korea cut the lead to 15-14 following a video challenge reversal, ace and kill. The U.S. responded with kills from Dixon and Hill around the second technical timeout to take a 17-14 lead. Wilhite Parsons served an ace around three Murphy kills and a Korea error to close out the set with a 5-0 run and 25-18 victory.