Friday, July 17, 2015

National Team | USA defeats Thailand, remains undefeated

Lowe and Miyashiro excel in World Grand Prix; Vansant leads way in Pan Am Games
  • USA def. Thailand 3-1 (25-21, 25-18, 23-25, 25-16) [World Grand Prix]
  • USA def. Peru 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-14) [Pan Am Games]

USA libero Tama Miyashiro had 12 digs in a 3-1 victory against Thailand
Karsta Lowe slammed 21 kills and Tama Miyashiro tallied 12 digs as USA defeated Thailand 3-1 (25-21, 25-18, 23-25, 25-16) in Hong Kong. Saturday morning (Pacific Time), USA and China—teams with identical 8-0 records—will wrap up the 2015 World Grand Prix preliminary rounds. Both teams, plus 8-0 Brazil, have already qualified to be among the six finalists next week in Omaha, Nebraska.

USA trailed 21-17 late in the first set, but an out-of-bounds save by substitute setter Courtney Thompson and a flying dig by Miyashiro kept Thailand from running away. Outside hitter Kim Hill—as she did in the previous night’s final match against Japan—stepped to the service line and turned the set around, serving the final 7 points of the set, including 2 aces.

The second set was all Lowe, as she fired bombs from the right side, particularly down the line. Even when USA was out of system, Lowe was able to connect without getting much of an approach. Late in the set, Miyashiro had another pair of acrobatic digs, including a perfect pancake.

“We scouted Thailand a bunch and so we had a pretty good idea where the hitters like to hit,” Miyashiro said. “So if I can get set up before they are actually setting the hitters, I put myself in a really good position to dig a lot of balls. It is fun to play defense against an offense like that. It really tests your patience and eye work.”

The third set featured long rallies, most of the longest won by Thailand. The Thais were rarely fooled by outside hitter Kelsey Robinson’s tips, and Thailand’s middles consistently tooled the USA block. At set point, Robinson served long.

USA rolled through the final set, as serving improved and the Americans kept the rallies shorter. Tori Dixon and Lauren Gibbemeyer alternated at middle the entire match. Both are trying to earn the third Olympic roster spot behind current leaders Foluke Akinradewo and Christa Dietzen, but neither turned in a spectacular performance against the shorter Thai team.

Setter Courtney Thompson and the USA bench react to one of several disputed calls in USA's 3-1 win over Thailand

In Toronto, Krista Vansant had seven kills and two aces to pace USA’s Pan Am Games team to an opening-round sweep of overmatched Peru. Jenna Hagglund saw brief action in sets 1 and 3. USA faces Puerto Rico Saturday evening in Toronto.

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