Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Olympic Games | USA moves into semifinals with 3-0 win against Japan

Kim Hill and Rachael Adams rebound

Women’s National Team Schedule
  • Aug 06: USA def. Puerto Rico 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-17)
  • Aug 08: USA def. Netherlands 3-2 (18-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 15-8)
  • Aug 10: USA def. Serbia 3-1 (25-17, 21-25, 25-18, 25-19)
  • Aug 12: USA def. Italy 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20)
  • Aug 14: USA def. China 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-19)
  • Aug 16: USA def. Japan 3-1 (25-16, 25-23, 25-22) [Quarterfinals]
  • Aug 18: vs. Serbia [Semifinals]
  • Aug 20 [Medal Finals]

Kim Hill blocks against Erika Araki during USA's 3-0 Olympic quarterfinal win against Japan
-photo by FIVB

If Karch Kiraly has a doghouse, he didn’t bring it to Rio.

USA's Rachael Adams attacks against Japan's Yuki Ishii
-photo by FIVB
On Sunday, the USA coach benched two of his starters—outside hitter Kim Hill and middle blocker Rachael Adams—when each of them struggled in a pool play win over China. But today, both were back with a flourish, as USA defeated Japan 3-0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-22) to advance to Thursday’s Rio Olympics semifinals against Serbia, who defeated Russia 3-0.

Hill and fellow outside hitter Jordan Larson each had 12 kills, followed by Adams with 9. Both were favorite targets of setter Alicia Glass, with Adams getting 16 sets—many on slides—and Hill getting 29 chances. For the match, USA out-hit Japan .412-.243.

The second set demonstrated just how much better USA is than Japan at this stage of the Olympics. The Americans had four service errors and six—six!—net violations, as they allowed Japan to tie the set at 22. Despite the fact that two of those service errors and most of those net calls went against Hill, Kiraly stuck with her. After a timeout, Larson connected on three of USA’s final four points (sandwiched by another net call, this time on Adams), to escape set two 25-23.

Coach Karch Kiraly during a USA timeout.
-photo by FIVB

In the third set, Japan launched a furious rally as its 7-0 run tied the score at 20. After a timeout, Kiraly brought in Karsta Lowe in a straight substitution for Kim Murphy on the right side. Lowe responded immediately with a kill. At 21-21, Hill got a kill, then Lowe an ace, then Hill another kill. Foluke Akinradewo ended the match with slide kill.

With the win, USA moves to the Rio Olympics semifinals.
-photo by FIVB

Japan plays great defense, but could not match the USA’s size or speed, and rarely served all that tough (just 2 aces). Mostly, the Americans were their own worst enemy, something they have a chance to control when they meet Serbia Thursday for a shot at the finals.

  • As always, it is maddening to see the high-priced/high-visibility seats empty at an Olympic event. Big blocks of choice seats—at most Olympic venues, summer and winter, this year and in previous years—reserved for corporate sponsors and dignitaries. Those folks tend not to show up for many events, even as the upper bowl of Maracanãzinho was filled with volleyball fans. Time for the IOC to start pulling tickets from sponsors who don’t bother to come. (Ha! Not holding our breath!)
  • Jordan Larson had her second straight great match. She finished with 12 kills and no hitting errors on 21 swings for a .571 hitting average. She also added two aces and 7 digs, and was USA’s leading passer, with ten receptions scored as “excellent.”
  • Netherlands defeated Korea 3-1 to advance to Holland's first-ever women's indoor volleyball Olympic semifinals. The Dutch will play China, upset winner over host Brazil.

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