The U.S. Women’s National Team played Italy on Monday knowing it had already qualified for the quarterfinals at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Focused on improved serving and passing, the U.S. Women beat the European side, 3-2 (21-25, 25-16, 25-27, 25-16, 15-12) in their final pool play match.
TOKYO (Aug. 3, 2021) – Despite challenges at every turn, the U.S. Women’s National Team took care of business in a difficult pool at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Now comes the hard part.
The U.S. Women will play Dominican Republic at 9 p.m. PT on Tuesday (1 p.m. Wednesday in Tokyo) in the Olympic quarter finals. The winner will play the winner of Italy/Serbia in the semifinals and is guaranteed a chance to play for a medal. The loser will go home.
On the other side of the bracket, Korea will play Turkey and Brazil will face the team from the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).
With each challenge that came along during pool play, the team dug a little deeper and pulled together.
“I think this team has done a phenomenal job of adapting, compensating and adjusting to all the strange things that have happened,” U.S. Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “We’re certainly going to be ready for a great Dominican team across the net. They are a very physical team so we’ve got to be in good spots there.”
Those who have followed the team know its struggles in Tokyo.
First, assistant coach Erin Virtue was put into quarantine after she was deemed a “close contact” of a person who tested positive for COVID on the plane to Tokyo. She could not be on the bench for the team’s first two matches but was eventually allowed to rejoin the group under strict protocols.
During the U.S. Women’s match against the ROC, starting opposite Jordan Thompson, who had been leading the team in scoring, injured her ankle and left the match. The ROC team went on to sweep the U.S.
On Monday, starting setter Jordyn Poulter injured her ankle in the United States’ final pool play match against Italy. The U.S. went on to beat Italy and win Pool B.
Team Captain and three-time Olympian Jordan Larson has encouraged the younger players on the team to acknowledge the pressure they are feeling and talk about it.
“It’s important to acknowledge what’s in front of us,” Larson said. “But also being present in the moment and focusing on what we can control.”
Three-time Olympian Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson said the team has put an emphasis on trust and that has helped it get through the tough times.
“With that trust on and off the court, it has translated to these matches,” she said. “We are able to rely on one another and we know our good is good enough.”
First-time Olympian Micha Hancock took over at setter for Poulter when she was injured and has been buoyed by the support she is receiving from her teammates.
“I had a lot of support coming off the bench,” Hancock said. “It’s not easy, emotionally, watching a teammate go down. It wasn’t easy, but we figured out a way.”
U.S. Women’s Roster for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
1 Micha Hancock (S, 5-11, Edmond, Okla., Penn State Univ.)
2 Jordyn Poulter (S, 6-2, Aurora, Colo., Univ. of Illinois)
4 Justine Wong Orantes (L, 5-6, Cypress, Calif., Univ. of Nebraska)
10 Jordan Larson (OH, 6-2, Hooper, Neb., Univ. of Nebraska)
11 Annie Drews (OPP, 6-4, Elkhart, Ind., Purdue Univ.)
12 Jordan Thompson (OPP, 6-4, Edina, Minn., Univ. of Cincinnati)
14 Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (OH, 6-3, Champaign, Ill., Univ. of Illinois)
15 Kim Hill (OH, 6-4, Portland, Ore., Pepperdine, Univ.)
16 Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson (M, 6-3, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Stanford Univ.)
22 Haleigh Washington (M, 6-3, Colorado Springs, Colo., Penn State Univ.)
23 Kelsey Robinson (OH, 6-2, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Univ. of Nebraska)
24 Chiaka Ogbogu (M, 6-2, Coppell, Texas, Univ. of Texas)
Head Coach Karch Kiraly
Asst. Coach Erin Virtue
Asst. Coach Tama Miyashiro
Asst. Coach Luka Slabe
Performance Analyst Jeff Liu
Sport Physiologist & Team Leader Jimmy Stitz
Physical Therapist & ATC Kara Kessans
Consultant Coach Sue Enquist
Consultant Coach Marv Dunphy
Team Doctor Dr. Chris Lee
Second Scout Justin Chang
Olympic Schedule (All times PT)
Jul 24: USA def Argentina, 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-20)
July 26: USA def China, 3-0 (29-27, 25-22, 25-21)
July 29: USA def Turkey, 3-2 (25-19, 25-20, 17-25, 20-25, 15-12)
July 30: Russian Olympic Committee def USA, 3-0 (25-20, 25-12, 25-19)
Aug. 1: USA def Italy, 3-2 (21-25, 25-16, 25-27, 25-16, 15-12)
Aug. 3/4: Quarterfinals
Aug. 5/6 Semifinals
Aug. 7/8 Medal matches