Stanford recruit Merete Lutz and fellow Texan Andie Malloy combined for 41 points in leading the U.S. women's junior national volleyball team past Thailand, 25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 25-22, Friday in the 17-20 classification round-robin of the FIVB Volleyball Women's U20 World Championship being held in Brno, Czech Republic.
The U.S. meets Nigeria on Saturday and Puerto Rico on Sunday.
Malloy had 15 kills on 38 attacks, four blocks and two aces for 21 points, while Lutz added 11 kills on 19 swings and a match-high nine blocks for 20 points. Stanford sophomore-to-be Jordan Burgess contributed 12 points with 10 kills on 35 attacks, one block and one ace.
"I thought our middles were very effective," said Burgess, who also had 30 excellent receptions on 32 chances. "When we were passing the ball well they were unstoppable. We need to keep our intensity up through all of these matches."
The opening set produced eight lead changes, the last having the United States coming back from a 23-21 deficit and scoring the final four points to win 25-23. Malloy scored eight points in the first set, including the final two points.
The tables turned in the second set as the Americans led 17-14 and Thailand used a 6-0 run to take a 20-17 lead before scoring the final three points to win 25-23.
The U.S. recovered by jumping to a 5-1 lead in the third set and doubled up the advantage to 14-7 before closing out with a 25-17 victory.
Team USA broke a 17-all tie in the fourth set with a 3-0 run to separate from Thailand en route to a 25-22 victory.
"We started a bit sluggish, but got into a better rhythm as the match went on," U.S. coach Rod Wilde said. "We ran into a couple of bad passing streaks, but for the most part we got our middle attack running well. We were able to use everyone on the bench, which was good. I hope that we can bring a little more fire for the match against Nigeria."
Stanford incoming freshman Kelsey Humphreys started at setter, and added two kills, an ace and a block for four points.
Team USA used a stifling block to advantage, recording a 21-7 edge in that category against Thailand. The Americans also held a 51-46 edge in kills. Thailand held a slim 48-44 margin in digs, as well as an 8-5 advantage in kills.