Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

U.S. Women Finish 4th at VNL Finals in Arlington

The U.S. Women’s National Team concluded their journey in the 2023 Volleyball Nations League (VNL) with a fourth-place finish, falling to Poland in a thrilling match on Sunday. The final score was 3-2 (25-15, 16-25, 25-19, 18-25, 17-15), and the match took place at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas.

The U.S. Women, who are the defending Olympic champions, had an impressive record in the VNL, finishing with 11 wins and 4 losses. Their next challenge will be the NORCECA Continental Championship, which is scheduled to take place from August 28 to September 3 in Canada.

Challenging Moments in the Match

After a grueling semifinal against Türkiye, which narrowly missed a fifth set, the U.S. Women faced difficulty in the first set against Poland. However, Head Coach Karch Kiraly made strategic lineup changes in the second set, which sparked a revival in the team’s performance. Despite their efforts, the U.S. Women couldn’t maintain their momentum, leading Kiraly to make further adjustments and involve every player on the court at some point during the match.

The fifth set was intense, with the U.S. Women trailing 9-6 before coming back to tie the score at 11-11. They even held match point at 14-13 and 15-14 but were unable to convert. Despite the bitter disappointment, Kiraly expressed pride in the team’s efforts and emphasized the need to learn and improve from this experience, especially with upcoming tournaments like the Olympic qualifier and next year’s competitions.

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Statistical Breakdown

In terms of statistics, Poland outperformed the U.S. Women in kills (63-50) and aces (7-5). However, the U.S. Women excelled in blocks (14-11) and took advantage of Poland’s errors to score 30 points. The team committed 20 errors of their own.

Setter Lauren Carlini made her first appearance in the final round, starting sets 2-5 and contributing three points through two kills and a block. Carlini expressed the team’s commitment to improving execution during crucial moments.

Outside hitter Avery Skinner, a Texas native and former Baylor player, stood out as the top scorer for the U.S. Women with 18 points, featuring 15 kills and three blocks. She also recorded five digs.

Impressive Performances

Other notable performances included opposite Annie Drews, who contributed 10 points through nine kills and one block, and libero Justine Wong-Orantes, who led the team with 12 digs and displayed excellent reception skills.

Middle blockers Chiaka Ogbogu and Asjia O’Neal, both Texas natives and former University of Texas players, showcased their versatility with identical score lines, each contributing nine points through four kills, four blocks, and one ace. They both started sets 2-5.

The team’s starting libero, Justine Wong-Orantes, demonstrated consistency with her defensive skills, leading the team in digs and earning credit for two successful receptions.

Summary

In conclusion, the U.S. Women’s National Team finished in fourth place in the 2023 Volleyball Nations League after an exhilarating match against Poland. Despite the disappointment of not securing a medal, the team showcased their resilience and determination throughout the tournament. The upcoming NORCECA Continental Championship and future competitions will provide further opportunities for the team to learn, grow, and strive for success.

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