NOCERA, Italy (July 10, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Team – World University Games squad (WCNT – WUG) clinched a berth in the 9th/10th Place Match at the 2019 Summer Universiade Wednesday as they gritted through a pesky Argentinian squad 3-1 (26-28, 25-18, 25-20, 25-22) at PalaCoscioni in Nocera, Italy.
“Congratulations and good luck to Argentina,” said WCNT – WUG head coach Keegan Cook. “I walk away from this match really impressed at their ability to attack the block in a variety of ways and really put pressure on us throughout the match. It didn’t matter what the conditions were, they were swinging hard and high; just a really good match for us to go through. I thought the players did a nice job of grinding it out as things got difficult.”
And WCNT – WUG had a lot of grinding to do. All four sets saw at least one lead change and tie score, and there were 16 ties alone in the first set. That one went to Argentina in extra points, but the U.S. claimed the second and the third by taking permanent leads near the middle of each frame. The fourth was also a back-and-forth contest, one with 16 ties and six lead changes. In fact, that set was tied at 22 before the U.S. won the next three points to clinch the match.
“The first set, we kind of started off slow. We missed a couple serves, and our ball control wasn’t too good,” said Diana Brown, a setter from Illinois. “We turned it around the second set and started passing higher and played our game. We slowed it down and just kept it simple. Our coaches did a very nice job telling us what the other side of the net was doing so we could focus on ourselves while our coaches focused on the other team. Overall it was a team effort, and I can’t wait to play for ninth.”
Once again, USA Team touted a balanced attack with 10 different players registering a kill and three of them reaching double-digits. Minnesota opposite Stephanie Samedy led the team and tied for the match lead with 17 kills, Washington outside hitter Kara Bajema landed 14, and Stanford opposite Audriana Fitzmorris tallied 11 on just 18 shots and one error for a .556 hitting percentage. Middle blocker Avie Niece paired her seven kills with four blocks for 11 total points as well.
WCNT – WUG also had a few standouts in the passing game. Outside hitter Meghan McClure, also from Stanford, received 24 serves without one fault, while Bajema added 20 total receptions. Libero Lauren Barnes had 18 with a .333 percent success rate, and outside hitter Adanna Rollins handled 12 receptions errorlessly as well.
“Really nice job in serve receive by Meghan McClure, Adanna Rollins and Lauren Barnes to keep us in a lot of rallies. A lot of hitters took a lot of good swings today, we got a lot of help from a lot of different people. It was nice to see a balanced offense again.”
The win, the Americans’ third of the tournament and second in as many days, advanced the team to the 9th/10th place match on Thursday, July 11. They’ll face Switzerland at 8 p.m. local/12 Noon Eastern in a Group D rematch at PalaCoscioni once again. The U.S. won the group stage contest 3-0 on July 6, their first win of the World University Games.