USA improve to 11-1 in VNL
JIANGMEN, China, June 7, 2018 - Michelle Bartsch-Hackley came up
huge with 18 points but the talk will be all about the United
States' all-round game after a 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-20) victory
over China that has officially spelt out their intentions for
this inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
The wing spiker led the way with 16 spikes among her tally - and
continues to be the leading American player - but she found
ample support from the likes of middle blocker Tetori Dixon and
wing spiker Jordan Larson (11 points each).
There were moments when the US were put under pressure by the
host nation but they were fleeting as the reigning world
champions marched on towards the VNL finals. That the visitors
came back from 15-20 down in the third set before sealing the
deal spoke volumes about their form. Every move has worked for
the Americans since a shock 3-2 loss to Turkey back on May 16
seemed to fine-tune their focus.
China in the meantime had star and captain Zhu Ting adding to
her collection of points - and highlight reel moves - with a
team-leading 14. They would also be pleased with the continued
form of wing spiker Liu Xiaotong, who chimed in with 11 points.
But the Rio Olympic gold medal winners are yet to fully find a
consistent flow of form as coach Lang Ping plays around with her
The US had been in superb form coming into the clash, winning
nine on end and only losing one set in the process - to Brazil
the night before in their 3-1 victory.
Coach Karch Kiraly has been able to rotate his talent-laden
squad with abandon during that run - even at one point giving
captain Larson a night off - but it has not hampered the world
champion's progress through the rounds. The barnstorming
Bartsch-Hackley has been at the forefront of their charge and
such was the case again on Thursday.
The Americans finished their trip to Jiangmen 3-0 - and 11-1
overall - and they'll take some beating from now on in, as they
head to Santa Fe, Argentina, for the next round of matches,
against Serbia, South Korea and the host nation.
The Chinese head off on 6-6, comfortable of course in the
knowledge they have already qualified for the Nanjing finals as
host nation and with one more round of matches to go to
fine-tune their rotation, and their game plan. They'll face
hosts Germany in Stuttgart from June 12, as well as The
Netherlands and one of the tournament surprise packets Turkey.