American women in must-win situation at FIVB finals

Stanford grad Foluke Akinradewo on the attack. Photo courtesy of FIVB.

The world's No. 1 ranked women's volleyball team China handed No. 2 Team USA its first loss of the FIVB Women's World Championship on Wednesday, 25-17, 26-24, 25-18, in Osaka, Japan.

All of a sudden, the Americans route to the Final Six is in peril, with the U.S. needing to beat undefeated Italy on the final day of round two Thursday to secure a spot in the final. Italy beat Russia to qualify for the third round.

Stanford grad Foluke Akinradewo recorded seven kills for the Americans.

Outside hitter Jordan Larson led with 14 points via 12 kills, one block and one ace. Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, who started the final two sets, had eight kills and an ace for nine points.

"We knew it was going to be a difficult match," Larson said. "Obviously we respect China very much. They played very well today. I think we also competed very hard today. I am really proud our team for fighting through some tough moments."

Opposite Karsta Lowe, who started the final set after being the double-sub opposite in the first two sets, provided nine kills on 15 swings in the match.

The U.S. converted 39 percent of its attacks into points with a .254 hitting efficiency (46-16-118). China converted 50 percent of its attacks into points with a .439 hitting efficiency (49-6-98).

China out-blocked Team USA 9-3 for the match and held a slim 3-2 margin in aces. The Chinese also had a 49-46 edge in kills, along with a 47-43 advantage in digs.

Zhu Ting led the Chinese with 19 points on 17 kills via 32 attacks, one block and one ace. Gong Xiangyu added 14 points in the victory.

In its last meeting with China in the World Championship, Team USA defeated China in four sets in the 2014 gold-medal match. Overall, the U.S. had won six of its previous eight meetings with China in world-level matches (FIVB or Olympic Games).

— Palo Alto Online Sports/USA Volleyball

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