2018 FIVB WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE – WEEK 1/POOL 3
- May 15th-17th, 2018
- Power Rankings
- Bob Devaney Sports Center; Lincoln, Nebraska
- Time Zone: GMT – 5 (US Eastern Time -1)
- World Rankings: #2 United States, #7 Italy, #12 Turkey, #22 Poland
United States def. Poland 3-1
- #2 United States defeated #22 Poland 3-1
- United States moved to 1-0 (3 points), Italy moved to 0-1 (0 points)
Relative newcomer Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, who joined the team just prior to the 2016 Olympics, came through for the United States in a big way, notching a match-high 27 points, including 25 kills and two aces, as the Americans staved off a feisty Polish squad in four sets Tuesday night.
Bartsch-Hackley was backed up by hometown hero Jordan Larson, who starred at Nebraska, which is the host site for this weekend’s pool play. Larson turned in 20 points with 16 kills, two blocks and two of the team’s four aces.
Three other Americans posted double-digit point tallies: Kelly Murphy (13), Rachael Adams (12) and Foluke Akinradewo (10). Murphy racked up 13 kills, while Adams put up a team-best five blocks.
The United States led the match in kills (69-57) and blocks (12-8), but were outserved 8-4 in aces.
For Poland, Malwina Smarzek was the top scorer with 23 points (22 kills, 1 block), while Natalia Medrzyk (13) and Martyna Grajber (12) also managed double-digit scoring efforts. Medrzyk downed 11 kills, while Grajber accounted for 10 kills and two aces. Julia Nowicka and Marlena Plesnierowicz also tallied two perfect serves.
It was back and forth in Set 1 as Bartsch-Hackley and Smarzek traded blows, but in the end, Murphy came through with two kills to clinch the 28-26 win. The USA even had to fight off a Polish set-point try in the latter stages.
Set 2 was much of the same. Poland took a 19-18 lead on a stuff by Medrzyk, but Bartsch-Hackley came through in the clutch to give the United States back the lead before Larson notched the final point at 25-22.
The see-saw battle continued late into Set 3 as a 16-15 Polish lead turned into a 21-19 USA advantage with help from a Carli Lloyd ace and another Bartsch-Hackley putaway. Nowicka, Poland’s 19-year old setter, notched two blocks and her team forced a few more miscues to finish on a 6-1 run and clinch the 25-22 win to extend the match.
After a tie at 9-all, the Americans broke away in Set 4, cruising to the 25-15 win to escape with the match victory and three key points in the standings.
Here are the post match reactions:
United States coach Karch Kiraly: “It is the same for every team in this tournament. We have all had very little time to train. So there a number of plays that that becomes apparent on our side of the net, on Poland’s side of the net, Turkey’s side of the net and Italy’s side of the net. So this poses a new challenge for us, one that we are embracing in terms of figuring things out on the fly.”
United States outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley: “(26 points) feels good, but also it is my job. I can’t take too much credit, my team is great.”
United States captain Jordan Larson: “We’ve only been together a few times – 4 or 5 practices that the crew has been together, so I think we are still working out a lot of kinks.”
United States libero Justine Wong-Orantes: “We need early communication (on serve receive) especially in the seams. (We need to) keep improving game by game and I think towards the end of that match we started feel more comfortable.”
Poland coach Nawrocki Jacek: “For us, it was a very good game. We know that we need to eliminate our faults and we also know that the American team can play much better.”
Poland captain Agnieszka Kakolewska: “I am so happy and so proud of our team, because we are so young and we fought against one of the best teams in the world.”