The world's top-ranked U.S. women's senior national volleyball team, playing in front of a sellout crowd in Long Beach, netted a 25-16, 25-23, 25-21 victory over No. 5 Japan on Saturday in Long Beach in a battle of Olympic-qualified teams. The USA trains in nearby Anaheim, located just 30 minutes away from Long Beach.
Team USA, now 4-1 overall with 12 points and in fourth place in the World Grand Prix standings, concludes the Pool E weekend by playing No. 10 Turkey on Sunday.
"We love playing Japan," U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said. "They are one of the legendary programs in all of international volleyball, especially on the women's side. They fight with such heart and never give up. We know we have to work really hard to earn every point, and that is good for us to work our tails off in the long rallies."
The USA had balanced scoring with Stanford grad Foluke Akinradewo scoring a team-best 14 points with 12 kills on 17 attacks, one ace and one block. Kim Hill added 13 points on 11 kills via 23 swings and two blocks. Jordan Larson tallied 11 points with 10 kills on 21 attacks and a block. Rachael Adams
contributed 10 points on six kills via 14 swings, two blocks and two aces.
"I think we made conscious decisions tonight to get a couple strong goals, and we did a really job of sticking to those and accomplishing them." Hill said. "It is always fun to play this Japan team that plays great defense. We are focusing on our side of the net a lot, so that is what we are trying to get better at. Each team has little quirks and different nuances, and that helps us prepare for a little of everything."
Karsta Lowe charted nine points with eight kills on 15 swings and a block. Kelly Murphy totaled five points as the opposite in the double-sub all three sets. Alisha Glass rounded out the scoring with one block and one ace.
Kayla Banwarth totaled 11 digs and 11 excellent receptions on 12 chances. Lowe provide 10 digs, while Hill was credited with 10 excellent receptions on 17 chances to go with seven digs. Larson had a team-high 21 excellent receptions on 26 attempts and five digs.
The Americans converted 51 percent of their attacks as part of a .430 hitting efficiency (51-8-100) as Glass had 28 running sets on 67 set attempts. Team USA maintained a 9-2 block advantage. Both teams had four aces. The U.S. defense limited Japan to a 32.4 kill percent and .185 hitting efficiency.
"There were so many times that our pins were one-on-one, our middles were one-on-one," U.S. captain Christa Dietzen said. "So Alisha Glass did a great job of distributing the ball evenly. I thought our defense gave us a lot of opportunities to score in transition."
The U.S. drew energy from the fans who packed the Walter Pyramid.
"The crowd was phenomenal thanks to a lot of people, especially Matt Garthoff and the VOL-B-QUE crew," Kiraly said. "Our players got a chance to say hello to them at the huge volleyball tailgate party. I got a chance to say hello to them, and it was such a great day for volleyball."
The USA has won 21 of its 27 World Grand Prix matches with Japan including the last 11 meetings. The Asian side has not won a World Grand Prix meeting since 2005.