COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (July 9, 2017) – Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) scored 19 points to lead second-ranked U.S. Women’s National Team past reigning Olympic Games champion China 25-22, 25-22, 25-21 to conclude the first preliminary round weekend of the 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix in Kunshan, China. The match will air on Universal HD on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

The U.S., now 3-0 at the end of the first World Grand Prix preliminary round weekend, returns to action on July 14 when it faces Turkey at 4 a.m. ET in Macau. China took its first loss in three 2017 World Grand Prix matches. The World Grand Prix is the premier annual international tournament for women.

Murphy, one of two 2016 Olympic bronze medalists competing in the match, tallied 16 kills on 29 attacks and three blocks for her 19 points. Middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota) added 11 kills on 16 attacks and two blocks for 13 points. Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Maryville) pocketed 10 points with eight kills and two blocks.

Outside hitter Madi Kingdon (Phoenix, Arizona) contributed nine kills on 14 attacks in the victory. Middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) charted three kills and three blocks for six points. Liz McMahon (Liberty Township, Ohio), who was the opposite in the double-sub in all three sets, tallied three kills on seven attacks. Setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California), a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, rounded out the scoring with an ace.

Kindgon was credited with 21 excellent receptions on 22 chances. Libero Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California), making her first FIVB World Grand Prix action, tallied 20 excellent receptions on 21 attempts. Bartsch-Hackley added 17 excellent receptions on as many attempts.

The U.S. converted 48.1 percent of its attacks into points with a .346 hitting efficiency (50-14-104). The American defense limited the Chinese to a 37.1 kill percent and .207 hitting efficiency (43-19-116). Team USA held a 10-6 advantage in blocks to offset China’s 3-1 margin in aces. The Americans also held a 50-43 edge in kills. Both teams limited their errors for the match with China committing 14 and the USA 13.

The U.S. started Lloyd at setter, Murphy at opposite, Kingdon and Bartsch-Hackley at outside, Gibbemeyer and Dixon at middle, and Wong-Orantes at libero. Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma) was the setter in the double-sub in all three sets. Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) was a serving sub in the first two sets. Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) was a sub in the third set.

China built an early 6-3 advantage in the opening set, but the U.S. charged back to tie the set at 7-all following a Dixon block. The Americans took their first lead of the set at 20-19 on a Dixon kill of the block and extended the lead to 21-19. Team USA reached set points at 24-21 on a Bartsch-Hackley kill and ended the set at 25-22 on a Gibbemeyer block.

The U.S. reached second set’s first technical timeout leading 8-6 after a Dixon kill and Gibbemeyer block. The Americans stretched their lead to 13-9 with kills from Kindgon and Murphy as part of 3-0 run. Team USA reached the second technical timeout leading 16-11 with a McMahon kill. China closed the gap to 23-22 on a 4-0 run but the U.S. won the final two points to win 25-22 with Bartsch-Hackley kill and Lloyd ace.

To start the third set, the U.S. bolted to a 4-0 lead with two Murphy kills and capped by a Kingdon kill. China used an 8-2 run to take the lead back at 11-9. The Americans answered with four consecutive points, including two blocks from Murphy, to regain the lead at 13-11. The momentum swung back to China as it netted three straight points to take the lead at 14-13. Trailing 20-19, the U.S. scored three unanswered points to grab a 22-20. The U.S. scored three of the final four points to take the set 25-21.

The U.S. has won the FIVB World Grand Prix six times, with four of the titles coming in the last seven years (2010, 2011, 2012, 2015). In the last two editions, the Americans have won gold in 2015 and reached the gold-medal match in 2016 before losing to 11-time champion Brazil. The U.S. and Brazil have held dominance over the World Grand Prix as either the Americans or Brazilians have won the tournament 17 of the 24 editions and every year since 2008.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB World Grand Prix Weekend #1
# – Player (Position, Height, College, Hometown)
1 – Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Penn State, Edmond, Oklahoma)
3 – Carli Lloyd (S, 5-11, California, Bonsall, California)
4 – Justine Wong-Orantes (L, 5-6, Nebraska, Cypress, California)
5 – Sarah Wilhite (OH, 6-1, Minnesota, Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
6 – Tori Dixon (M, 6-3, Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota)
8 – Lauren Gibbemeyer (M, 6-2, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota)
9 – Madi Kingdon (OH, 6-1, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona)
12 – Kelly Murphy (OPP, 6-2, Florida, Wilmington, Illinois)
14 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Illinois, Maryville, Illinois)
17 – Megan Courtney (OH, 6-1, Penn State, Dayton, Ohio)
19 – Hannah Tapp (M, 6-2, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
20 – Amanda Benson (L, 5-7, Oregon, Litchfield Park, Arizona)
21 – Paige Tapp (M, 6-1, Minnesota, Stewartville, Minnesota)
23 – Liz McMahon (OPP, 6-6, Illinois, Liberty Township, Ohio)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Tama Miyashiro, Erin Virtue
Consultant Coach: Jon Newman-Gonchar
Technical Coordinator: Jeff Liu
Athletic Trainer: Kara Kessans
Team Manager: Jimmy Stitz

2017 U.S. Women’s Schedule in FIVB World Grand Prix Preliminary Round

At Kunshan, China
July 7: USA def. Russia 22-25, 25-19, 25-27, 25-16, 15-11
July 8: USA def. Italy 25-21, 25-22, 25-19
July 9: USA def. China 25-22, 25-22, 25-21

At Macau, China
July 14: USA vs. Turkey, 4 a.m. ET
July 15: USA vs. Italy, 2:30 a.m. ET
July 16: USA vs. China, 3:30 a.m. ET

At Cuiaba, Brazil
July 21: USA vs. Netherlands, 5:05 p.m. ET
July 22: USA vs. Belgium, 5:05 p.m.
July 23: USA vs Brazil, 9:10 a.m. ET

FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round
At Nanjing, China
Aug. 2-6
China plus top five other finishers from FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary round