Wednesday, 22 May 2024

U.S. Women Show Grit in World Grand Prix Finals Opener against Serbia

The U.S. Women’s National Team started their campaign in the FIVB World Grand Prix Finals with a thrilling match against Serbia. Battling until the fifth set, they narrowly lost 25-22, 25-17, 23-25, 18-25, 15-11 in Nanjing, China.

The Americans, one of the six teams in the Final Six, will face Italy in their final pool match on Thursday. A win by a 3-0 or 3-1 margin over Italy will secure their spot in the semifinals on Saturday. Fans can catch the action live on the Olympic Channel.

In an impressive comeback, Team USA rallied from a two-set deficit and a 14-7 deficit in the third set. They won the third set 25-23 with a remarkable 18-9 run. The Americans then cruised through the fourth set to force a tiebreaker. However, Serbia’s 5-1 run in the fifth set proved to be the deciding factor as they emerged victorious.

It is worth noting that this match was the first meeting between the two teams since Serbia’s triumph over the Americans in the 2016 Olympic Games semifinals. The U.S. team looked different this time with only two Olympians in the lineup, while Serbia had four Olympic starters and nine Olympians from their silver-medal-winning team.

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Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, who had been rested in the final two preliminary round matches, led the scoring for Team USA with 17 points, including 14 kills and three blocks. Lauren Gibbemeyer contributed 15 points with six blocks and four aces, while Annie Drews made an impact off the bench with 10 kills.

Despite the loss, the U.S. team displayed resilience and fought hard throughout the match. Justine Wong-Orantes showcased her defensive skills with 19 digs, while Carli Lloyd held the team together with 105 total set attempts.

Looking ahead, the U.S. team will aim to regroup and secure a spot in the semifinals with a strong performance against Italy.