U.S. Junior Women's Volleyball team beats China, 3-1, advances to FIVB semifinals
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The U.S. Women's Junior National Team reached the semifinals of the FIVB Women's Junior World Championship by serving China its first loss, 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21), of the tournament on Tuesday in the final round of pool play in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
The U.S. Junior Women will face defending world champion Brazil, the winner of Pool B and the lone undefeated team in the tournament, in the semifinals on Thursday (July 26) at 6 a.m. CDT. The United States' victory over China knotted the two teams, both 4-1, in a tie for first place. The FIVB's tie-breaker protocol determined that China would remain in first place based on the points won/lost ratio for both teams. The Americans trailed China in the calculations by .007.
The U.S. attacked China from the outside as Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Kimmee Roleder (Pasadena, Calif.) carried nearly 50 percent of the offensive load. With added defensive and serving efforts, the duo collected over half of Team USA's total points. Klineman recorded 26 kills on 53 attempts, five blocks and two service aces. Roleder scored on 18 of 36 swings, adding two blocks for a 20-point performance in the four-game match.
"We owe our win to captain Alexandra Klineman," said U.S. Head Coach Andy Banachowski. "She played exceptionally well." Joining in the team effort were setters/opposites Taylor Carico (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.), middle blockers Zoe Garrett (Laguna Beach, Calif.) and Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.), and libero Tara Mueller (Scottsdale, Ariz.).
Gibbemeyer and Garrett added 11 and seven points, respectively, each tallying six kills. Gibbemeyer also had three blocks and two aces as Garrett added a single block. The U.S. out-blocked China 12-10. Murphy, one of the youngest players on the team, again played two vital roles in either directing the offense or adding a heavy left-handed swing to the U.S. artillery; her six kills, one block and two aces polished off the win.
The first two sets of the match were even through the end, both swinging 25-22 in favor of Team USA. After exchanging points up to 13-all in the third set, China led from the halfway point, fighting to stay in the match. A 25-23 decision extended the contest to a fourth game in which the Americans sealed the victory, 25-21, locking up a trip to the semifinals on July 26.
"We trained hard in preparation for the tough match against China. We take on Brazil next," Banachowski said. "They are a strong team and we just hope that we can match them competitively. We have not seen them play, but I hope that my girls will do their best."