Sports

U.S. women beat the Dutch in FIVB Grand Prix volleyball match

 

The world No. 1 ranked U.S. women's senior national volleyball team used a balanced offense to defeat Olympic Games-qualified Netherlands, 25-17, 19-25, 25-17, 25-20, during the FIVB World Grand Prix Pool H preliminary round on Saturday afternoon in Hong Kong.

Stanford grad Foluke Akinradewo was one of five players to score in double figures and the Americans recorded a 14-5 block advantage to down the Dutch.

"Something we have been focusing on so far this training block is our block defense," Akinradewo said. "We have a really great serving team, and we had a lot of opportunities to get them out of system."

Team USA, with a 7-1 record and 21 points, concludes the nine-match preliminary phase of the World Grand Prix against second-ranked China on Sunday.

China, the only undefeated team in the World Grand Prix, beat Team USA on June 12 in Ningbo, China, on the third day of this year's World Grand Prix.

The U.S. and China clinched their spots into the FIVB World Grand Prix Final 6 following Friday night victories in Hong Kong.

The Finals, which will be the top five teams in the 12-team Group 1 plus host Thailand, take place July 6-10 in Bangkok. The World Grand Prix is the premier annual international women's volleyball tournament.

Team USA went up 16-9 in the opening set and withstood a Netherlands mini-run that closed the gap to 16-13. As the Americans scored nine of the final 13 points of the set for a 25-17 victory.

Netherlands jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the second set with a 6-1 scoring run and never let the Americans closer than two points the rest of the way for a 25-19 victory.

Team USA used an early 4-0 run to take a 6-4 lead in the third set and used six blocks in the frame to win 25-17.

The U.S. captured a back-and-fourth final set in which Netherlands committed nine errors.

Outside hitter Jordan Larson paced the American offense with 10 kills on 22 attacks and just one error to go with three blocks and two aces for 15 points. Middle Christa Dietzen contributed 13 points with nine kills on 13 errorless swings and four blocks. Outside hitter Kim Hill turned in 13 points with 10 kills on 25 swings, two aces and a block.

"I thought the Netherlands pushed us in a lot of areas of the game," Dietzen said. "They are coached very well. We were excited for the opportunity to compete against them because obviously our team will hopefully see them in the Finals of World Grand Prix, as well as the Olympic Games. I think it is always important to compete against strong teams, and I thought the Netherlands is one of them. They are very young. We learned a lot from this match, and now we prepare for China tomorrow."

Opposite Nicole Fawcett collected 11 points on eight kills via 27 attacks and three aces. Akinradewo had 11 points with six kills on 10 attacks and just error, four blocks and one ace. Karsta Lowe playing as the opposite in the double-sub, charted five kills on 10 errorless attacks. Setter Alisha Glass rounded out the scoring with two blocks.

Entering the match, the Netherlands had won three of its four most recent World Grand Prix matches with Team USA. However, the Americans defeated the Dutch in the most recent overall meeting at the 2014 FIVB World Championship.

Team USA has won 22 of its last 24 World Grand Prix matches with both losses coming at the hands of Sunday's opponent, China. Also, both losses have occurred in China – last year in Hong Kong to end the preliminary round and earlier this year on June 12 in Ningbo.

"We always want to win the next point, and we don't have complete control over the scoreboard," U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said. "We will give our best effort. Right now we are taking a few minutes to reflect on the match against the Netherlands and what we learned and put that information to use against China. We had a wonderful time competing against China two weeks and are excited for another opportunity."

Men's volleyball

Matt Anderson recorded 18 points and William Reid Priddy 15 to help the U.S. Olympic team beat Australia, 20-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-20, on Saturday in Rome in a FIVB World League match.

— USA volleyball

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