Thursday, July 16, 2015

National Team | USA now 7-0 in volleyball World Grand Prix with close win over Japan

Olympic vets Dietzen and Akinradewo make impact on return
  • USA def. Japan 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 26-24)

USA libero Tama Miyashiro (center) leads a cheer during a 3-0 World Grand Prix win over Japan in Hong Kong

USA, welcoming four veteran players for the World Grand Prix third round in Hong Kong, rallied to sweep highly-ranked Japan, 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 26-24). USA—now 7-0 in pool play and ranked #1 in the world—will face Thailand Friday morning (3:30AM Pacific Time). Japan, ranked fourth in world, is now 3-4 in pool play, but is still in contention to be among the six teams to qualify for the Finals next week in Omaha.

USA Middle blocker Christa (Harmotto) Dietzen, playing her first major tournament match of the summer, recorded 8 kills and 3 blocks. Her fellow middle Foluke Akinradewo—also playing her first match of the current World Grand Prix—had 8 kills and one block. Two other third round additions were also in the starting lineup: opposite Kelly Murphy contributed 10 kills and a block, while outside hitter Jordan Larson-Burbach had 3 kills and 2 blocks.

USA middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo (16) exchanges high-fives with setter Molly Kreklow

USA’s biggest numbers came from outside hitter Kim Hill. She had 9 kills and a jaw-dropping 6 service aces against one of the best defensive teams in the world. 4 of those aces came during a crucial third set comeback. Libero Kayla Banwarth had another good match, contributing 9 digs.

Molly Kreklow and Courtney Thompson once again shared setting duties, with Thompson entering each set as part of a double-substitution with Karsta Lowe.

USA, China and Brazil are all 7-0 in pool play, and all have qualified for next week’s Finals. Contenders for the final three spots include Italy, Russia, Japan, Thailand and Germany

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