Friday, July 10, 2015

National Team | Vansant, Lowe help USA sweep Russia

Two recent Pac-12 stars play big roles in fourth consecutive World Grand Prix win
  • USA def. Russia 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-19)

USA team captain Courtney Thompson (3) digs a ball during USA's 3-0 World Grand Prix win over Russiz

Last autumn, Washington’s Krista Vansant and UCLA’s Karsta Lowe were wrapping up stellar college careers. Today, the two recent grads helped key a big international win as USA defeated Russia 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-19) in Kaliningrad, Russia in a second-round match of the 2015 World Grand Prix. USA is now 4-0 in pool play, and will face Turkey Saturday morning.

Vansant finished with 7 kills and 3 errors on 21 attempts. The first set was her best, getting both the first and last American kill of the set. She seemed to tighten as the match wore on, committing hitting and service errors before serving the match’s final point for the victory. Even so, Vansant passed well throughout, allowing setters Courtney Thompson and Molly Kreklow to keep the American offense clicking.

Russia’s passers, by comparison, sent setter Ekaterina Kosianenko scrambling, forcing Russian hitters to take a high number of out-of-system attacks. USA out-hit Russia 27% to 6%.

“Russia has a great volleyball program and it is always fun to play someone in their own country,” said Thompson, the USA team captain. “We will continue to play well here. The best part of our game is serving and passes. We want to be tested and pushed, and play with strong teams.”

USA setter Courtney Thompson (3) points toward teammates Krista Vansant (24) and Lauren Gibbemeyer (center)

Lowe, who finished with 9 kills and 4 errors on 19 attempts, was the best of a balanced American offense. Many of the left-handed opposite’s attacks came from the back row, appearing to flummox the Russian defense.

The World Grand Prix is a month-long tournament played in venues around the world. The top six teams will qualify for the Finals, to be held in Omaha, Nebraska at the end of July—the first time the tournament Finals have ever been in the USA.

USA players celebrate the final point in a 3-0 World Grand Prix win against Russia

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