Saturday, July 25, 2015

National Team | A double sweep as USA wins two titles, both 3-0 over Brazil

Thompson, Miyashiro part of World Grand Prix championship in Omaha; Vansant, Hagglund win Pan Am Games gold in Toronto
  • USA def. Brazil 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-21) [World Grand Prix Finals]
  • USA def. Brazil 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 28-26) [Pan Am Games Gold Medal Match]

USA players celebrate a point in a 3-0 sweep of Brazil to win the 2015 World Grand Prix championship

USA won two titles in two countries Saturday, in both cases earning 3-0 sweeps against rival Brazil.

In Omaha, setters Molly Kreklow and Courtney Thompson spread the offense about as evenly as possible in a 3-0 win over the Brazilians (25-16, 25-22, 25-21). With the win, USA (4-0) clinched the 2015 World Grand Prix championship, even as they have one match remaining, Sunday morning against China (broadcast live at 10AM Pacific on NBC.)

Thompson and Kreklow kept Brazilian defenders off-balance by securing a combined 16 kills from outside hitters Kim Hill (10) and Kelsey Robinson (6), 15 combined kills from middle blockers Foluke Akinradewo (8) and Christa Dietzen (7) and 14 combined kills from opposites Karsta Lowe (9) and Kelly Murphy (5).

USA middle blocker had 7 kills and 7 blocks in a 3-0 sweep of Brazil

“We knew it was important to serve tough,” said US head coach Karch Kiraly, who credited Dietzen and Akinradewo with helping organize the American defense each time Brazil struggled to pass. Dietzen has 7 terminations blocks in the match, while fellow middle Akinradewo had 6 soft blocks.

“Brazil plays a very similar style as we do,” said Dietzen. “As blockers, we see attacks like those in our own gym.”

In Toronto, an American roster without a single Olympic veteran faced a Brazilian team that included several Olympic champions. One of those Brazilian veterans, outside hitter Fe Garay, showed an ability to dominate the match, serving aces and attacking with power from both the front and back row.

Each time Brazil surged ahead, the American scrambled back, thanks to exceptional defense by libero Natalie Hagglund (17 digs) and an offensive explosion by opposite Nicole Fawcett (19 kills). Outside hitter Krista Vansant struggled at times, especially with her passing, but contributed 10 kills. Jenna Hagglund, entering on the double-sub, led several big runs late in each set.

In the third set, Vansant excelled late at the service line, putting USA in a position to turn away three Brazilian set points. In the end, it was another 3-0 sweep for USA (25-22, 25-21, 28-26.), and Pan Am gold around their necks.

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