COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (July 20, 2017) – The U.S. Women’s National Team moved one step closer to qualifying for the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round by defeating then-second-place Netherlands 25-15, 23-25, 28-26, 25-21 to open the third and final FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary round weekend on Thursday afternoon in Cuiaba, Brazil.

The U.S., now with a 5-2 record and 16 points, returns to action on Friday afternoon when it faces winless Belgium (0-7) at 4:10 ET. Team USA concludes the preliminary round against host Brazil on Sunday at 9:10 a.m. ET. Both matches are scheduled to air live on NBC affiliate The Olympic Channel (formerly Universal HD).

With the victory, the U.S. leapfrogged into first place in the standings though Serbia (5-1, 15 points) has played one less match. A win over Belgium on Friday will secure Team USA’s spot into the Final Round. The top five teams in the preliminary round plus host China advance to the World Grand Prix Final Round to be held Aug. 2-6 in Nanjing, China.

Upcoming TV Schedule
July 21: USA vs. Belgium – live Olympic Channel (formerly Universal HD) at 4:10 p.m. ET
July 23: USA vs. Brazil – live Olympic Channel (formerly Universal HD) at 9:10 a.m. ET

Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Maryville, Illinois), who dominated the final set with seven points, turned in a personal international career-high 23 points with 18 kills on 40 swings, three aces and two blocks. She entered the match as the top server in this year’s World Grand Prix. Middle Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota) chipped 11 kills on 19 swings, six blocks and three aces for 20 points. Outside hitter Madi Kingdon (Phoenix, Arizona) contributed 15 kills on 36 attacks and two aces for 17 points.

Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) chalked up 12 kills on 27 attacks, one block and one ace for 14 points. Middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota) contributed four kills and two blocks for six points. Rounding out the scoring with one point each were setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California), setter Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma) and reserve pin hitter Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota).

Notes Outside the Boxscore

  • U.S. was facing Netherlands for the time with previous assistant coach Jamie Morrison now serving as head coach of the Dutch
  • The U.S. Women defeated Netherlands twice at the 2016 Olympic Games, including in the bronze medal match. The Americans have now won its last nine matches with the Dutch
  • Entering the match, the U.S. had lost consecutive matches (five-set losses to Italy and China) for the first time in 33 FIVB World Grand Prix match.

Libero Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California) was credited with a team-high 22 digs to go with six excellent receptions on 10 chances. Kingdon turned in 16 excellent receptions on 26 chances and 11 digs, while Bartsch-Hackley added 12 excellent receptions on 36 chances with 12 digs. Lloyd pocketed 15 digs.

The U.S. converted 41.4 percent of its attacks into points with a .283 hitting efficiency (60-19-145) as Lloyd was credited with 13 running sets on 103 total set attempts. The American defense limited Netherlands to a 32.0 kill percent and .207 hitting efficiency (48-17-150).

Team USA out-blocked Netherlands 13-9 and held a 10-7 margin in aces. The Americans also enjoyed a 60-48 advantage in kills. The Americans committed 23 errors in the match to the Dutch’s 17.

The U.S. started Dixon and Gibbemeyer at middle, Kingdon and Bartsch-Hackley at outside hitter, Murphy at opposite and Lloyd at setter. Wong-Orantes was the libero for the match. Wilhite was as sub in the first three sets, while Hancock was a sub in the first two sets. Megan Courtney (Dayton, Ohio) was a back-row sub in all but the second set.

For USA’s next match opponent, Belgium is winless in seven matches in this year’s World Grand Prix, but two of its losses have come to the top two teams entering the final weekend – Serbia and Netherlands. Belgium’s other five losses have come at the hands of teams ranked from seventh to 11th place. The European side did extend Dominican Republic to five sets in its most recent outing on July 16.

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.

The U.S. reached the opening set’s first technical timeout leading 8-6, then pushed the gap to 12-9 prompting Netherlands to call timeout. Team USA continued the pressure by reaching the second technical timeout with a 16-10 advantage. Out of the break Bartsch-Hackley put up a block to increase the lead to 17-10. Team USA upped the lead to 19-11 with a Dixon ace. The U.S. cruised into the set victory at 25-15 as Murphy scored the final two kills of the set.

Netherlands took a 5-1 lead to start the second set. Team USA sliced the deficit to a single point at 6-5 after a Murphy ace. Kingdon served an ace between kills from Dixon and Bartsch-Hackley to give the Americans an 8-7 advantage at the technical timeout. Murphy slammed a kill to stretch the lead to 12-10. Dixon took a quick middle attack to extend the American lead to 15-12. Netherlands closed to one at 15-14 with an ace off the net. Dixon downed back-to-back kills to increase the American lead to 20-16. Netherlands responded with a 5-1 run to take the lead at 22-21, prompting a USA timeout. After a Netherlands service error, Bartsch-Hackley hit a kill off the block to yield a 23-22 American lead. Netherlands switched the lead to its side and gained the first set point at 24-23 on an ace. Netherlands finished the set at 25-23 on an American error.

In the third set, Netherlands advanced its lead to 15-12 with an ace off the net. Kingdon came up with a kill and block and Dixon followed with a block to tie the set at 16-all. Murphy scored a fourth straight point with a kill giving Team USA a 17-16 lead. Out of a Netherlands timeout, Murphy hammered another kill to push the gap to 18-16 on a 5-0 run. Netherlands answered with consecutive kills to level the score at 18-all. Kills from Murphy and Bartsch-Hackley gave the U.S. a 22-20 edge. Netherlands tied the set at 23-all. After a Lloyd block, Dixon put up another block to five the U.S. a 28-26 victory on its fourth set point chance.

Netherlands bolted to an 8-3 advantage in the fourth set. Two Bartsch-Hackley kills around a Netherlands error trimmed the USA’s deficit to 9-7. Netherlands raised its advantage to 14-9 with three straight points. A Murphy kill, Dixon block and Netherlands attack error cut the gap to 14-12. The U.S. tied the set at 15-all with consecutive Kingdon kills. Netherlands regained a two-point cushion at 17-15 with points on each side of the technical timeout. Bartsch-Hackley scored three straight with two kills and a block to give the Americans an 18-17 lead. Team USA stretched its margin to 20-18 with two more Bartsch-Hackley kills leading to Netherlands calling timeout. Out of the break, Bartsch-Hackley nailed a third straight kill to extend the lead to 21-18. Bartsch-Hackley served an ace to give the Americans match point at 24-20. Team USA capped the match at 25-21 on a Kingdon kill.

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

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster for FIVB World Grand Prix Weekend #3
# – 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 def. Turkey 25-21, 24-26, 25-19, 25-12
July 15: USA lost to Italy 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 13-25, 15-13
July 16: USA lost to China 25-27, 25-23, 25-21, 23-25, 15-11

At Cuiaba, Brazil
July 20: USA def. Netherlands 25-15, 23-25, 28-26, 25-21
July 21: USA vs. Belgium, 4:10 p.m. ET
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