China knocks off USA women in VNL, American play Turkey in the semifinals


VNL USA volleyball 6/20/2021-Kim Hill
Kim Hill reaches in front of Michelle Bartsch Hackley and digs against China/FIVB photo

China not only beat the USA women Sunday in the last match of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League regular schedule, it swept the Americans 25-10, 25-20, 25-17 to deal them their first loss after 14 victories to open the tournament.

The VNL, the last major International competition before the Tokyo Olympics begin next month, now heads to Thursday’s semifinals when the USA plays Turkey and Brazil plays Japan. The championship and third-place matches are Friday.

Even with the defeat, the USA — which beat Poland on Friday and Russia on Saturday — finished atop the standings at 14-1. 

Brazil, which beat Turkey in four sets in the last match Sunday, finished second with Japan at 12-3. Japan swept Serbia, while Turkey was 11-4.

Earlier in the VNL, the Americans beat Turkey in four on June 14, beat Brazil in four on May 27, and swept Japan on June 13.

In the USA’s 29-27, 29-27, 25-14 win over Poland, Jordan Thompson and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley led with 14 kills each. Thompson hit .433 after having one error in 30 attacks and had three blocks and six digs, while Bartsch-Hackley hit .333 and had two blocks, 10 digs, and an ace.

Kim Hill added eight kills, nine digs, and five blocks, and Foluke Akinradewo had five.

Tori Dixon, who is one of the USA Olympic alternates, had three kills, three blocks, and two digs. 

Micha Hancock had a block, four aces and eight digs. Justine Wong-Orantes had 17 digs.

Click here for USA-Poland highlights.

With an almost entirely different lineup, the Americans then came away with a 25-21, 25-27, 25-23, 25-15 victory over Russia.

Jordan Larson led with 15 kills, 12 digs, and four aces and Annie Drews and Haleigh Washington — who had four blocks — had 13 apiece. Drews had three aces, seven digs, and a block.

Kelsey Robinson had 11 kills, two aces, 10 digs, and three blocks.

Chiaka Ogbogu had seven kills with no errors in eight attacks and had two blocks and two aces. Hill, who played libero, had 11 digs. Jordyn Poulter had 39 assists.

Click here for USA-Russia highlights.

China, which finished fifth in the standings at 10-5, overpowered the USA 25-10, 25-20, 25-17.

“It’s a really disappointing loss,” Akinradewo admitted. “China had their A-team there, they are a very strong team. I think it’s always good for us to be pushed, it’s always good to face some difficulties, I’m hoping that we can reflect on this and we will come stronger next time. A lot of lessons to be learnt from this game, but the biggest is focusing on our side.”

Four Chinese players had 12 or more kills, 16 by Zhu Ting.

Drews and Robinson had nine kills for the USA, while Akinradewo and Bartsch-Hackely seven each. Drews had two blocks, 

Hancock, who had the only ace, had three digs and eight assists. Hill, in the libero jersey again, had seven digs and Robinson five.

Hannah Tapp, another alternate, played and had one unsuccessful attack.

Click here for USA-China highlights.



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