TOKYO – The U.S. Women’s National Team assured itself the chance to play for a medal with a 3-0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-19) quarterfinal sweep of the Dominican Republic at the Olympic Games on Wednesday in Tokyo.
In Friday’s semifinals, the U.S. Women (5-1) will play the winner of the quarterfinal match between Italy and Serbia. The semifinals are scheduled for 9 p.m. Aug. 5 and 5 a.m. Aug. 6 PT.
The U.S. Women’s serve-and-pass game was firing on all cylinders as the team led in kills (48-32), blocks (8-5) and aces (6-0).
“We knew from the get-go we were ready. We felt that in the locker room,” libero Justin Wong Orantes said. “Our service pressure helped relieve the pressure off of our blocking defense. We just had a game plan and we executed it really well.”
The U.S. Women know the Dominican Republic very well as the two teams both play in the NORCECA zone. Prior to the break for the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Women’s last match together was a loss to the Dominican Republic in the final of the NORCECA Championship in October 2019.
The U.S. Women came back to beat the Dominican in the first match of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
“They are a fiery, scrappy team,” Wong Orantes said of the Dominican Republic. “Hats off to them for playing lights out. They were going after balls like no other.”
Focused on the importance of the match, the U.S. Women also fought for every ball. Wong Orantes was credited with 13 digs and 10 successful receptions. Outside hitter Jordan Larson led in digs with 15 and outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley led in successful receptions with 13.
Making her first Olympic start in place of Jordyn Poulter, who was injured during the United States’ pool play match against Italy, setter Micha Hancock set the team to a .402 hitting efficiency and also scored three points on a kill, block and ace.
The connection between Hancock and opposite Annie Drews, who became a starter after an injury to Jordan Thompson, was obvious as Drews led all scorers with 21 points on 21 kills (.528 hitting efficiency).
Kiraly said the U.S. game plan was to serve the right people.
“We wanted to get their service reception well off the net,” he said. “So their setter was scrambling and couldn’t set their middles.”
ICYMI The U.S. Women’s National Team is moving on to the semifinals at #Tokyo2020 after sweeping the Dominican Republic in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.— USA Volleyball (@usavolleyball) August 4, 2021
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Middle blocker Haleigh Washington scored 10 points on seven kills (.462), two blocks and one ace.
Larson and middle Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson each scored seven points. Larson scored on five kills, one block and one ace. Akinradewo scored on two kills, a team-high three blocks and two aces.
Serving specialist Kim Hill added one point with an ace.
- After the match, Kiraly said the members of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Women’s National Team, who didn’t get to compete due to the U.S. boycott of the Games, had been supporting the current team. “They’ve been sending us video messages. I get goosebumps just thinking about it,” Kiraly said. “We’ve been sending messages back to them. That group, was really the start of USA Volleyball being a powerful program.”
- Opposite Jordan Thompson and setter Jordyn Poulter both dressed for the match. Kiraly said both players were “available if needed.”
Source: USA Volleyball