COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 4, 2018) – The U.S. Women’s National Team captured a hard-fought 19-25, 25-20, 26-24, 12-25, 15-11 victory over Russia in a battle of undefeated teams on Thursday to close out the FIVB World Championship Pool C first round in Kobe, Japan.

Quick Sets

  • Key Stat: American outside hitter Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon) scored four of her team-leading 19 points in the decisive fifth set. She also had four points in the decisive fifth set on Wednesday in the win over Thailand.
  • Key Note: After losing set four by 13 points forcing a fifth set, the U.S. responded in the tiebreaker with leads of 3-0 and 10-4 before holding off Russia down the stretch.
  • Records: USA (5-0, 13 points), Russia (4-1, 12 points)
  • World Rankings: No. 2 USA, No. 5 Russia
  • 2018 Season Record: 31-4
  • Up Next: USA vs. Bulgaria (2-3, 6 points) on Oct. 7 at 12:25 a.m. ET

Russia opened the first set with a bang, taking an 18-9 advantage, then held on for a 25-19 victory. Team USA built a 19-12 advantage in the second set, but needed crucial blocks down the stretch to win 25-20 to even the match. The third set witnessed 17 ties and Russia coming back from three-point deficits twice to level the set, but the Americans eventually prevailed 26-24. Russia controlled the fourth set in establishing an 18-7 lead and close out the set at 25-12.

Team USA recovered from its disastrous fourth set by scoring the first three points of the fifth set and scorched to a 10-4 advantage. Russia climbed back into the set with a 7-2 run to within 13-11, but the Americans finished the set with the final two points for a 15-11 victory. Six different Americans scored in the final set.

“Russia started the match out very strong and pushed us on our heels,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “I really like the way that our team responded and had great fighting spirit;. Even after a disappointing fourth set we came back strong in the fifth set.”

“Russia is a very strong team, we knew that coming in,” U.S. captain Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska said. “We knew they would be serving tough. They are a great blocking defense team. We knew we had to hit high. I am just really proud of our team for grinding through some tough times. We are just trying to be better every day. Obviously to win this whole thing would be an honor. But it is a tough tournament to win. We are just trying to get better every single day.”

Both Team USA and Russia had already qualified for the second round, which takes place Oct. 7-11 in Osaka. Pool F will combine the top four teams from first round Pools B and C into one group and play crossover matches. Each team carries over their first round records and standings points to the second round. The top three teams from Pool F advance to the third round (final six).

Pool F is comprised with USA, Russia, Thailand and Azerbaijan advancing from Pool C, while Pool B will be represented by Italy, China, Turkey and Bulgaria. Team USA opens against Bulgaria on Oct. 7 at 12:25 a.m. ET, followed by Turkey on Oct. 8 at 12:25 a.m. ET. After a day off, the Americans face China on Oct. 10 at 6:20 a.m. ET and ends the second round versus Italy on Oct. 11 at 3:10 a.m. ET.

“It is not going to be easy,” Larson said of facing the likes of Italy, China, Turkey and Bulgaria in the next round. “They are great teams, so it is fun to compete against the best. They are some of the best and we are excited to play. It is going to be a long tournament and we have to be ready for anything. I think we are showing our resiliency and our fight, and I think that is important as we continue in the tournament.”

FIVB World Championship First-Round Pool Standings (Top Four in Each Pool Advance)

  • Pool A: 1. Netherlands (5-0, 14 points), 2. Japan (4-1, 13 points), 3. Germany (3-2, 9 points), 4. Mexico (1-4, 3 points – advances on set ratio tiebreaker), 5. Argentina (1-4, 3 points), 6. Cameroon (1-4, 3 points)
  • Pool B: 1. Italy (5-0, 15 points), 2. China (4-1, 12 points), 3. Turkey (3-2, 9 points), 4. Bulgaria (2-3, 6 points), 5. Canada (1-4, 3 points), 6. Cuba (0-5, 0 points)
  • Pool C: 1. USA (5-0, 13 points), 2. Russia (4-1, 12 points), 3. Thailand (3-2, 10 points), 4. Azerbaijan (2-3, 6 points), 5. Korea (1-4, 4 points), 6. Trinidad & Tobago (0-5, 0 points)
  • Pool D: 1. Serbia (5-0, 15 points), 2. Brazil (4-1, 12 points), 3. Dominican Republic (3-2, 9 points), 4. Puerto Rico (2-3, 6 points), 5. Kenya (1-4, 3 points); 6. Kazakhstan (0-5, 0 points)

Hill collected her 19 points with 16 kills on 44 swings, two blocks and an ace. Outside hitter Larson contributed 16 points with 15 kills coming from 32 swings and an ace as the two starting outsides combined for 35 points. Middle Foluke Akinradewo (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) pocketed 16 points with 12 kills on 21 swings and a team-leading four blocks.

Opposite Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois) charted 14 points with 11 kills on 25 attacks and three blocks. Karsta Lowe (Rancho Santa Fe, California), who was the opposite in the double sub the first four sets before starting the fifth in place of Murphy, added eight kills on 18 swings and a block for nine points. Middle Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota), getting her first action of the tournament, picked up five kills on 12 attacks, two blocks and an ace for eight points. Sarah Wilhite Parsons (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) served two aces as the serving sub in all five sets. Setter Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California) scored a key block in the fifth set, while Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois) rounded out the scoring with a kill in limited action in the fourth set.

Libero Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California) handled 15 receptions with an impressive 87 positive percent. She added 12 digs in the victory. Hill was credited with a 54 positive reception percent on handling 48 of the team’s 100 receptions. Larson handled 34 receptions with 50 positive percent to go with 15 digs.

The U.S. converted 41 percent of its attacks into points with a .247 hitting efficiency (66-26-162) as Lloyd had 116 setting attempts. Meanwhile, Russia converted 48 percent of its attacks for points including a .372 hitting efficiency (71-16-148), but only converted 26 percent of its attacks in the decisive set.

Russia held a 15-13 edge in blocks to offset Team USA’s 5-4 margin in aces. Both team kept their errors low for a five-set match with the Russians committing 11 and the Americans 14. Russia maintained a 51-43 dig margin.

Russia’s Nataliya Goncharova scored 36 points in the loss, while teammates Kseniia Parubets and Irina Fetisova added 16 and 14 points, respectively.

The U.S. had won 10 of the past 11 matches against Russia in world-level competition (Olympic Games and FIVB events). The U.S. is now 6-6 against Russia in World Championship matches, including two victories in the most recent event held in 2014.

The U.S. started Hill and Larson at outside hitter, Akinradewo and Gibbemeyer at middle, Murphy at opposite, Lloyd at setter, Robinson at libero. Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma) was the double-sub setter in the first three sets., a subscription streaming service, will stream all FIVB World Championship matches in the United States per an exclusive rights deal signed with the FIVB. To purchase a subscription, click here. To see the full World Championship schedule that will stream, click here.

Russia scored the first three points of the opening set then extended the advantage to 8-3 with three straight points into the first technical timeout. Russia upped its lead to 10-4 prompting a USA timeout. The Russia advantage reached eight at 13-5 with three consecutive points. Team USA scored its first consecutive points with a Larson kill and Russia error to cut the gap to 13-7. Russia scored three unanswered points to go up 18-9. The U.S. stopped the run with kills from Murphy and Lowe at 18-11. The Americans closed to 19-13 with a Russia error and Akinradewo block prompting a Russia timeout. Out of the break, Hill served an ace to cut the deficit to 19-14. Lowe and Larson connected for consecutive kills to narrow the gap to 21-17. Russia scored the final two points to win 25-19.

Team USA used back-to-back points including an Akinradewo block to go up 2-1 in the second set. The Americans raised the lead to 4-2 with kills from Hill and Akinradewo. Russia tied the set at 6-all with consecutive points, then went into the first technical timeout leading as part of a 4-1 scoring run. The lead was short-lived as Larson and Murphy slammed kills and Hill put up a block to give the Americans a 10-8 advantage. Murphy and Hill hammered kills to lift the Americans to a 12-9 advantage. Lowe slammed an overpass and Larson pounded a kill after a Russia service error to place the Americans into the second technical timeout with a 16-11 margin. The Americans upped the lead to 19-12 with a Russia service error, Lowe kill and Wilhite Parson ace heading into a Russia timeout. Russia closed to within five at 20-17 following a 4-0 run. The U.S. reached set points with back-to-back blocks from Akinradewo and Lloyd. Team USA ended the set with a block by Akinradewo at 25-20.

The teams traded the first 11 points of the third set until Russia scored back-to-back points at 7-5. However, Team USA scored its first consecutive points of the set with kills from Murphy and Hill to tie the set at 7-all. The U.S. picked up its first lead of the third set at 10-9 with an Akinradewo kill and Lowe block. Team USA gained the first two-point cushion of the third set at 13-11 after kills from Lowe and Larson. Out of a Russia timeout, Lowe downed an overpass for a 14-11 lead. Russia answered with three consecutive points to level the set at 14-all, the 11th tie of the set. The U.S. gained a three-point edge at 18-16 with kills from Gibbemeyer and Hill around a Wilhite Parsons ace heading into a Russia timeout. Russia sliced the gap to 20-19 with back-to-back points. Russia went in front 22-21 with three unanswered points. Team USA answered with an Akinradewo kill and Russia error to go up 23-22. Team USA won the set 26-24 with a Murphy kill and Russia error.

Russia bolted to a 4-1 lead in the fourth set. Russia reached a four-point cushion at 7-3, then extended the margin to 10-4 with three straight points. Team USA stopped the run with a Murphy kill and Larson ace to close to 10-6. Russia stretched its lead to 16-7 on a 5-0 run heading into the second technical timeout. Out of the break Russia scored its seventh and eighth straight points to go up 18-7. Akinradewo and Hill tallied kills to narrow the gap to 18-9. Russia extended the lead to 22-9 with four straight points. Russia capped the set at 25-12.

The U.S. awoke from its slumber by scoring the first three points of the tiebreaker as Lowe and Hill downed kills around a Gibbemeyer ace. Russia closed the deficit to one at 4-3. The Americans stretched their lead to 8-3 with kills from Akinradewo, Lowe and Hill around a Lloyd block. Larson and Hill extended the lead to 10-4 with consecutive kills. Russia scored four consecutive points to narrow the gap to two at 13-11. The Americans ended the Russians’ hope with an Akinradewo kill and Russia error to win the set at 15-11.