COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 8, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s National Team, ranked No. 2 in the world, utilized a balanced offense with key players coming off the bench in rallying to defeat No. 5 Russia 23-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-21, 15-9 on Friday on the third day of the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in Nagoya, Japan.

The WGCC is a six-team, round robin event held in the first year of each Olympic quadrennial. Team USA, now 2-1 with five standings points, faces host and No. 6 Japan on Saturday (6:15 a.m. ET) before concluding the tournament against No. 4 Brazil on Sunday (1:40 a.m. ET).

Later today top-ranked and tournament-leader China (2-0, 5 points) plays No. 10 Korea (0-2, 0 points) and Japan (1-1, 3 points) hosts Brazil (1-1, 4 points).

Television: Every match of the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup will be televised lived in the United States on The Olympic Channel, along with multiple replays of the matches.

Team USA had six players score at least nine points led by outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) and middle Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Florida), who both had 18 points. Hill totaled 14 kills on 33 swings and four aces in the victory. Akinradewo added 12 kills on 20 attacks, three blocks and three aces. Outside hitter Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska) pocketed 16 points, all coming on kills from 44 swings.

The U.S. rallied from a 22-18 deficit in the opening set to within one at 23-22 before Russia sided out to win 25-23. The Americans broke an 18-all tie in the second set by scoring seven of the final 10 points for a 25-21 victory. Team USA opened the third set with a 5-1 advantage, but two 8-1 runs by Russia put them up 17-10 and they held on for a 25-19 victory to go up 2-1. The U.S. used a 5-0 run to help the Americans rally from a 16-13 deficit in the fourth set to win 25-21. Team USA scored the first four points of the tiebreaking set and went up 11-5 after two aces from Hill en route to winning 15-9.

“It was tough because Russia is a great team.” Akinradewo said. “They are very aggressive and with tall players and good block and attack. Today it really took a big team effort and I am really happy for our team. I don’t think there was necessary any key points. I think a lot of people came in and made good changes. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Carli Lloyd did a great job. This tournament is about getting back each and every match.”

Opposite Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana) tallied 15 points with 13 kills on 30 attacks and two blocks. Middle Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio) chipped in seven kills on 14 swings, two aces and a block for 10 points. Both Drews and Adams started and played only the first three sets. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Maryville, Illinois), who was a serving sub in the first two sets before taking over at opposite in the fourth and fifth sets, scored eight kills on 18 swings with a block in her first extended time at opposite for the Americans. Middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) contributed four kills on six attacks with two blocks for six points, including the final two points of the match.

“Our number-one goal is to always be learning, and hungry to improve,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “That is the only way you can achieve special things like winning the Olympic Games or World Championships. We have a culture of learning and we will have a lot of learning going on this trip, some failures and successes but that is all part of this process. It is early in the four-year cycle, we have much, much to learn. We have accomplished some, but we have very much more work to come.”

Setter Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Illinois) started the first four sets with two aces before yielding to Lloyd (Bonsall, California) midway through the fourth set. Lloyd rounded out the scoring with a kill.

Larson led the back-row defense with 16 digs, while Hill added 14. Libero Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) charted seven digs with 11 excellent receptions on 16 chances, while libero Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California) added three digs in limited action on defense. Hill was credited with 25 excellent receptions on 61 of the team’s 100 total receptions, while Larson had 12 excellent receptions on 20 errorless chances.

The U.S. converted 44.9 percent of its attacks into points with a .293 hitting efficiency (75-26-167) as Carlini was credited with 60 running sets on 130 total set attempts. Lloyd, after coming in midway through the fourth set to provide an added spark, turned in nine running sets on 19 chances. The Americans held the Russians to a 38.7 kill percent for the match with a .277 hitting efficiency (60-17-155).

Did You Know: Two-time Olympic Games medalist Jordan Larson will have her University of Nebraska jersey (#10) retired on Sept. 29 as the Huskers host University of Minnesota. She will be the eighth Nebraska volleyball player to have her jersey retired and first since 2004 Olympian Nancy (Meendering) Metcalf in 2011.

Although Russia held a 16-9 margin in blocks using its height advantage, the Americans out-served the Europeans with an 11-8 ace advantage. The U.S. also held a 75-60 margin in kills and 60-52 edge in digs.

Russia was led in scoring by star opposite Nataliya Goncharova’s 27 points while outside hitter Tatiana Kosheleva added 25 points.

The U.S. started Hill and Larson at outside hitter, Adams and Akinradewo at middle, Drews at opposite and Carlini at setter. Courtney was the starting libero, though she shared the position in the final four sets with Wong-Orantes.

For its next opponent, the U.S. recognizes that Japan poses some different challenges than what Russia provided.

“It is always fun to play Japan, and it is also a little frustrating because they are good at defense,” Akinradewo said. “So it will be a matter of being patient.”

Kiraly echoed Akinradewo’s thoughts.

“Japan runs a very fast offense, so we don’t have much time to respond,” Kiraly said. “We try to run that kind of offense too, so it is good that we practice against that. But Japan also plays great defense, and we know we will have some really long rallies. It is difficult to play your hardest through a long rally when you are tired, but we have to do that.”

The U.S. scored the opening three points of the first set as Drews opens with a kill followed by an ace by Adams and Hill tip over the block. However, Russia came back to score the next five points to take a 5-3 advantage. Russia extended its lead to 7-4, but the Americans answered with a 3-0 run to tie the set at 7-all with consecutive Akinradewo kills followed by a Larson slam. Russia scored back-to-back points go up 9-7. Team USA reeled off a 4-0 run to take a 13-11 advantage with two Drews kills, and Adams block and kill. Russia responded to take the lead at 15-14 on a 4-1 run. Russia scored four straight points to take a four-point cushion at 20-16. Trailing 22-18, the Americans cut the gap in half at 22-20 with kills from Larson and Drews. Team USA moved to within one at 23-22 with a Russia service error and Akinradewo. However, Russia sided out to a 25-23 victory.

After the teams traded points early in the second set, the U.S. scored five straight points to take an 8-4 advantage into the first technical timeout at Akinradewo pounded a kill, followed by two Russia errors, Drews kill and Larson kill. Russia rolled off three straight to close to 9-8 and tie the set at 11-all as part of a 7-3 run. Russia went back in front at 14-13. Team USA answered by going back in front 16-14 on two kills from Larson after an Akinradewo slam. Russia came out of the technical timeout with the first two points to tie the set at 16-all. The Americans regained a two-point cushion at 20-18 on a Hill kill and block. The U.S. expanded its lead to 23-19 on kills from Hill and Larson. Hill served an ace to give Team USA set points at 24-20, then Akinradewo hammered the winner at 25-21.

The U.S. started the third set up 4-0 as Adams and Hill slammed kills followed by an Adams ace and Russia error. Russia went on an 9-2 run to take an 9-7 advantage. Team USA tied the set at 9-all on a Carlini ace, but Russia answered with its second 8-1 run of the set to assume a 17-10 margin. The U.S. cut the gap to 17-12 on a Hill kill and Russia error. The Americans continued the charge back to move to within 19-15 on a Russia error and Hill ace. A Russia error and Drews block cut the deficit to 21-18. Russia won the final three points of the set to win 25-19.

Bartsch-Hackley and Hill had back-to-back kills to give the Americans a 4-3 lead in the fourth set. The U.S. went on a 3-0 run with a Bartsch-Hackley kill, Russia error and Akinradewo block to grab a 7-4 advantage as a part of a 5-1 run. Russia answered with back-to-back points to slice the deficit to 7-6. The U.S. expanded its lead to 10-7 with Akinradewo scoring a kill and ace. Russia rallied to take the lead at 14-12 on a 7-2 run. Russia went into the second technical timeout leading 16-13. The U.S. went back in front 20-18 on a 5-0 run that included a Bartsch-Hackley kill and two Akinradewo aces. The Americans went up 23-20 and went on to win 25-21 with Bartsch-Hackley scoring the final two kills.

The U.S. took a commanding 4-0 lead in the tiebreaker with kills from Gibbemeyer and Bartsch-Hackley, and back-to-back Russia errors. Team USA expanded its lead to 6-1 following a Hill block and Russia error. Russia scored three unanswered points to close to within two at 6-4. Akinradewo slammed a kill followed by a Lloyd setter dump and consecutive Hill aces to yield an 11-5 margin for the Americans as part of a 4-0 run. Russia closed the gap to 11-8 that included back-to-back aces of its own. Larson downed back-to-back kills to give the U.S. a 13-8 advantage. Team USA won the set 15-9 with Gibbemeyer scoring a kill and block.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB World Grand Champions Cup
# – Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
3 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, California, Bonsall, California)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
5 – Rachael Adams (M, 6-2, Texas, Cincinnati, Ohio)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
7 – Lauren Carlini (S, 6-2, Wisconsin, Aurora, Illinois)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (M, 6-2, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota)
9 – Madi Kingdon (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
10 – Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Nebraska, Hooper, Nebraska)
11 – Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Purdue, Elkhart, Indiana)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Maryville, Illinois)
15 – Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Pepperdine, Portland, Oregon)
16 – Foluke Akinradewo (M, 6-3, Stanford, Plantation, Florida)
17 – Megan Courtney (L, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
29 – Aiyana Whitney (OPP, 6-5, Penn State, Norwood, New Jersey)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Tama Miyashiro, Marv Dunphy
Consultant Coaches: Sander Cohen, John Crawley
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Hicks
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Doctor: Dr. Andrew Gregory
Dietitian: Shawn Hueglin
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz

2017 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup Schedule
Sept. 5: Brazil def. Russia 25-17, 23-25, 25-23, 25-12
Sept. 5: China def. USA 18-25, 25-18, 25-14, 25-17
Sept. 5: Japan def. Korea 25-23, 25-21, 26-24
Sept. 6: China def. Brazil 25-20, 25-12, 20-25, 23-25, 19-17
Sept. 6: USA def. Korea 25-22, 25-20, 25-16
Sept. 6: Russia def. Japan 22-25, 25-18, 25-22, 28-26
Sept. 8: USA def. Russia 23-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-21, 15-9 
Sept. 8: China def. Korea 25-14, 25-4, 25-12
Sept. 8: Japan def. Brazil 25-18, 25-27, 25-15, 16-25, 15-6
Sept. 9: Russia vs. China (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 8) – at Nagoya
Sept. 9: Brazil vs. Korea (11:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 8) – at Nagoya
Sept. 9: USA vs. Japan (3:15 a.m. PT) – at Nagoya
Sept. 10: Korea vs. Russia (8:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 9) – at Nagoya
Sept. 10: USA vs. Brazil (10:40 p.m. PT on Sept. 9) – at Nagoya
Sept. 10: China vs. Japan (3:15 a.m.) – at Nagoya