COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 19, 2019) – Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) scored 24 points and outside Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) served five aces including two in the deciding fifth set as the U.S. Women’s National Team saved two match points and rallied to defeat Netherlands 25-21, 23-25, 22-25, 28-26, 15-9 in second to last FIVB Volleyball Nations League preliminary round match in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
The Americans, ranked third in the world, are now 11-3 overall with 32 points in the VNL. Team USA closes out the VNL preliminary phase on Thursday at 7 a.m. ET against Thailand. The match will air live on flovolleyball.tv.
The U.S., which qualified for the VNL Finals July 3-7 China following Tuesday’s win over Russia, was one of five teams that started today with a 10-3 record. Brazil, China and the U.S. are now 11-3, while Italy and Turkey play each other later today. Poland claimed the sixth and final spot with a victory over Dominican Republic coupled with Belgium’s loss to Brazil.
The U.S. broke a 16-all tie in the opening set with five unanswered points for a 21-16 advantage en route to a 25-21 win. The Americans bolted to a 9-2 advantage in the second set, but Netherlands charged back to tie the set at 17-all and took the lead at 22-21 and went on to win 25-23. The third set was a battle of momentum swings as the Americans started up 4-0, then Netherlands came back to take the lead at 5-4 and raised the advantage to 9-6. Trailing 12-10, Team USA served two aces part of a 5-0 run to stake a 15-12 lead. Netherlands came back to level the set at 16-all and went in front 21-18 on a 4-0 run. The U.S. pulled even at 22-all, but Netherlands scored the final three points for a 25-22 victory. Team USA rallied from a 21-18 deficit in set four and saved two match points to win 28-26 and send the match to a tiebreaker. Robinson served two aces in a 6-0 run that gave Team USA a 7-3 advantage in the fifth set and the U.S. controlled the rest of the match for a 15-9 win.
“They pushed us, and I thought we pushed back,” Drews said. “I thought we made adjustments throughout the match and I’m really proud of that.”
Drews scored her 24 points with 20 kills on 41 attacks and four blocks. Outside hitter Mikaela Foecke (West Point, Iowa) charted 18 kills on 41 attacks. Middle Chiaka Ogbogu (Coppell, Texas) collected 11 kills on 19 swings, two blocks and two aces for 15 points.
Robinson totaled 14 points in the match with eight kills, five aces and a block. Middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota) contributed eight kills on 13 swings, three blocks and an ace for 12 points. Setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) rounded out the scoring with three blocks and an ace for four points.
“I thought Kelsey Robinson did a really nice job at the service line after we had been missing,” Drews said of the adjustments made late in the fourth set. “And we just kept composed at the end, getting one point at a time realizing we can’t three or four points in one rally. I thought we did a really good job of staying composed and clawing out point-for-point.”
Lloyd set Team USA to a 43 kill percent and .301 hitting efficiency (66-20-153) in the victory. The Americans held Netherlands to a 38 kill percent and .246 hitting efficiency (64-23-167).
Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, who was the 2018 VNL most valuable player as an outside hitter and spot duty at opposite, played her first-ever international match at libero and was unofficially credited with a 43 positive reception percent on 35 chances and 11 digs. Foecke handled 43 of the team’s 92 receptions and added 14 digs, while Robinson was 71 percent positive on 14 chances with 12 digs.
The U.S. edged Netherlands in each of the scoring categories with a 13-11 margin in blocks, 9-8 edge in aces and 65-64 advantage in kills.
The U.S. started Foecke and Robinson at outside hitter, Dixon and Ogbogu at middle, Drews at opposite, Lloyd at setter and Bartsch-Hackley at libero.
Drews scored a kill and block on consecutive points to give the Americans a 3-2 lead in the opening set, but Netherlands answered with two quick points to go back in the lead at 4-3. Netherlands used a 3-0 run to go into the first technical timeout leading 8-5. Dixon put up a block, Netherlands hit wide and Foecke put down a kill to tie the set at 9-all. Netherlands ended the run with two points of its own at 11-9. Team USA surged in front 13-12 with a Drews kill and Dixon ace around a Netherlands attack error. The U.S. went into the second technical timeout up 16-14 after a Netherlands service error and Ogbogu kill. Netherlands tied the set at 16-all on an ace. Consecutive Foecke kills and Ogbogu ace extended Team USA’s advantage to 19-16. Out of a Netherlands timeout, Ogbogu served a second straight ace and Foecke hammered a kill on a mega rally to push the American lead to 21-16. Netherlands stopped the run with consecutive points to pull to within 21-18. The U.S. won the set 25-21 on Netherlands fifth service error of the set.
The U.S. built a 3-0 lead early in set two with kills from Drews, Robinson and Foecke leading to a Netherlands timeout. Out of the break, Dixon put up a block to up the advantage to 4-0. Team USA extended its margin to 9-2 with two kills each from Ogbogu and Drews. Netherlands broke the 4-0 American run with a 5-1 spurt to slice the gap to 10-7. Drews and Dixon scored kills to inch Team USA’s advantage to 14-9, but Netherlands answered with three straight points to close to 14-12. The U.S. reached the second technical timeout up 16-12 with a Drews kill and Netherlands error. Out of the break Netherlands used a 5-1 run to tie the set at 17-all. Drews and Foecke scored consecutive kills to give Team USA a 19-17 advantage. Out of a Netherlands timeout, Ogbogu put up a block to raise the American lead to 20-17. Netherlands charged back to take the lead at 22-21 with four unanswered points. Netherlands won the set on back-to-back points at 25-23.
Dixon scored a kill and block and Drews followed with a kill and Netherlands was called for a center violation to give Team USA a 4-0 start to set three. Netherlands answered with its own 5-0 run to reverse the lead to its side at 5-4, then went up 8-5 on back-to-back USA errors followed by an ace. Drews roofed Netherlands and hammered a kill around a Netherlands error and Ogbogu followed with a slide kill to place Team USA in front 10-9 on a 4-0 run. Netherlands answered with three quick points to gain a two-point lead at 12-10. Robinson served two aces around an Ogbogu kill and block to lift the Americans in front 15-12 on a 5-0 run. Netherlands scored the first three points out of the second technical timeout to level the set at 16-all, then went in front 21-18 on four straight points that included two aces. Robinson ended the run with a kill and Netherlands hit long to put USA within one at 21-20. Foecke scored a kill on a dig overpass and Lloyd followed with a block to tie the set at 22-all. Netherlands scored the final three points for a 25-22 victory.
The Dutch started the fourth set with a 4-1 advantage. Drews banged two kills and Ogbogu slammed a slide as USA charged into the lead at 6-5. Netherlands stopped the run with four points of its own to take a 9-6 margin. Robinson served an ace after an Ogbogu kill to close the gap to 9-8. Netherlands raised its advantaged at 14-11 prompting a USA timeout. Out of the break Drews scored a kill and block to narrow the deficit to 14-13. Netherlands extended its lead to 19-16 at a USA timeout. Robinson scored two kills and Dixon had another to level the set at 21-all. The U.S. went in front 23-22 on back-to-back Netherlands errors. The Dutch saved a set point and reversed the lead to its side at 25-24. Team USA saved two match points and went up 27-26 on a Lloyd ace. The Americans won the set 28-26 on a Netherlands error.
Netherlands started set five with the first two points. Team USA went up 7-3 with two aces from Robinson around an Ogbogu kill, Lloyd block and two Dutch errors as part of 6-0 American run. Netherlands sliced the gap in half at 7-5. Lloyd roofed Netherlands and Dixon followed with a dink over the block to raise the American lead to 10-6. The U.S. advantage reached 12-7 on kills from Foecke and Drews going into Netherlands’ second timeout. Netherlands scored two points out of the break to move within three at 12-9. Team USA gained match points at 14-9 with kills from Robinson and Drews. Ogbogu won the final point at 15-9.