Team USA remains in contention at World Grand Prix


Stanford grad Foluke Akinradewo scored 25 points on 14 kills, nine blocks and a pair of service aces to help rally the U.S. women's senior national volleyball team past host Thailand, 25-19, 19-25, 20-25, 25-12, 15-10, in the second to last FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary round match in Bangkok, Thailand.

Jordan Larson-Burbach added 13 kills and four blocks while Kelly Murphy had 14 kills for the Americans, who maintain a sliver of hope at reaching the Final Round.

The U.S. is in a sixth-place tie with Italy and Germany entering Sunday's preliminary finale against the Dominican Republic. The top four teams from the group advance to the finals.

Italy plays Turkey, which is a point ahead of the U.S., and Germany meets Russia, which is also a point ahead. Another key match is Korea's contest against Serbia, which is also ahead of the Americans.

The United States finished sixth in last year's competition after winning the title the previous year. Unless they get some help, the Americans are in danger of not being able to defend their sixth-place finish.

Akinradewo matched Thailand's block output by herself, giving the U.S. an overall 19-9 advantage. The Americans also had an edge in kills, 62-52 margin kills.

While the U.S. committed 23 errors, the Americans limited Thailand to a 32.7 kill percent and .258 hitting efficiency.

Stanford grads Cassidy Lichtman and Alix Klineman also saw action in the match, with Lichtman being used as a sub in all but the third set, while Klineman was a sub in the third set.

Men's volleyball

Stanford grad Brad Lawson flexed his muscles to the tune of 13 kills but the U.S. men's senior national team dropped a 24-26, 26-24, 25-27, 25-20, 15-9 decision to visiting Iran in a USAV Cup match Friday at Viejas Arena at San Diego State.

The teams play a final match on Saturday at the Bren Center at UC Irvine. The U.S., ranked No. 4 in the world, won the first two meetings.

The USAV Cup matches are helping both teams prepare for the FIVB World Championship between Aug. 30-Sept. 21 in Poland.

"Obviously I hate to lose. But I felt like I played well and we played well as a team," U.S. outside hitter Garrett Muagututia said. "We just had some minor communication errors and execution errors."

The U.S. led in kills, 65-59, and each side recorded 11 blocks and six aces. Iran took advantage of 25 serving errors.

"So far we've had three different teams in three matches," U.S. coach John Speraw said. "That's what I was hoping for from this experience. I think we've demonstrated some nice depth. I wish we didn't make so many errors from the service line. We had far too many service errors. We have to become more skilled."

American setter Kawika Shoji, a Stanford grad, scored six points on two kills, two blocks and two aces.

Women's water polo

Stanford junior Maggie Steffens scored four goals to help the United States women's senior national team down China, 11-4, in the semfinal of the FINA World Cup on Saturday at the Ugra State University Sports Complex in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

The Americans will defend their title against Australia, which down European champion Spain, 8-2, in the other semifinal.

The U.S. and Aussies are playing for the fifth time this season and have a long history in championship games. The Americans beat Australia for the World Cup title four years ago.

Team USA raced to a 7-0 lead at halftime before China rallied to pull within 9-3, the closest it would get.

The American defense extended its scoreless streak to six quarters before the Chinese scored in the third period.

"We played excellent on both sides of the ball in the first half but became a little complacent in the second half," U.S. coach Adam Krikorian said. "We look forward to playing in the final."

— Palo Alto Online Sports/USA Water Polo/USA volleyball

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