While many teams with spots in the Final 6 secured, or almost secured, have left their star players home to rest (Serbia, we’re looking at you), the #1-ranked Americans have maintained the same roster for the 5th and final week of the preliminary round of the 2018 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League.
This is a roster that hasn’t lost a match in almost a month, having won 10-straight matches and 30 of their last 31 sets at the tournament.
While they have the same roster for the 4th-straight week, USA Volleyball points out that head coach Karch Kiraly has used 9 different starting lineups in the team’s first 12 matches, with setter Carli Lloyd being the only constant.
The team now heads to Santa Fe, Argentina with a top-of-the-table, equivalent to the #2 seed behind Final 6 hosts China, well within reach. the Americans’ 11-1 record through 4 weeks puts them 1 game up on Brazil in the wins column, and 6 points clear. That means that any combination of U.S. wins and Brazilian losses that adds up to 2 clinches the #1 spot for the Americans.
2 wins shouldn’t be a tough task for the Americans in a pool with winless Argentina, a Serbian “B” team, and an eliminated South Korean team with pride, but little else, to play for.
The team has been led in scoring by Michelle Bartsch-Hackley in 7 of their 12 matches so far, and she currently leads the team with 144 points scored (an average of 12/match). Jordan Larson ranks 2nd with 119 points and Kim Hill 3rd with 108 points. Team USA’s starting setter, Carli Lloyd, leads all players in the tournament with 16.55 running-sets-per-set, meaning that Americans are getting more opportunities against 1 or 0 blockers than the rest of the tournament.
As we laid out yesterday, floor defense for the American women has also improved since moving outside hitter Kelsey Robinson to libero: her first time playing libero for the USA internationally.
The Americans rank in the middle-of-the-pack in blocks (7th out of 16 teams), but are getting great production from Lauren Gibbemeyer – who has amassed 22 stuff blocks in just 21 sets played a rate of 1.05/set. Presuming the Americans settle into their top roster in the Final 6 (although, results don’t indicate that’s a requirement for them), she should become a force in the final stages of the tournament.
Team USA’s Week 5 Roster
- Setters (2): Micha Hancock (Edmond, Oklahoma), Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, California)
- Opposites (2): Annie Drews (Elkhart, Indiana), Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Illinois)
- Outside Hitters (4): Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (Champaign, Illinois), Kim Hill (Portland, Oregon), Jordan Larson (Hooper, Nebraska), Sarah Wilhite (Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
- Middles (4): Rachael Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio), Foluke Akinradewo (Fort Lauderdale, Florida), Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minnesota), Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minnesota)
- Liberos (2): Kelsey Robinson (Manhattan Beach, California), Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, California)
Team USA’s Results + Week 5 Schedule
May 15: USA def. Poland 28-26, 25-22, 22-25, 25-15 (at Lincoln, Nebraska)
May 16: USA lost to Turkey 28-26, 25-19, 20-25, 24-26, 16-14 (at Lincoln, Nebraska)
May 17: USA def. Italy 25-21, 25-18, 25-21 (at Lincoln, Nebraska)
May 22: USA def. Japan 25-20, 25-16, 25-23 (at Toyota, Japan)
May 23: USA def. Netherlands 25-19, 25-21, 25-23 (at Toyota, Japan)
May 24: USA def. Belgium 25-11, 25-17, 25-18 (at Toyota, Japan)
May 29: USA def. Germany 25-18, 25-17, 25-17 (at Bangkok, Thailand)
May 30: USA def. Dominican Republic 25-20, 25-23, 25-21 (at Bangkok, Thailand)
May 31: USA def. Thailand 25-10, 25-22, 25-16 (at Bangkok, Thailand)
June 5: USA def. Russia 25-14, 25-18, 25-18 (at Jiangmen, China)
June 6: USA def. Brazil 25-23, 26-28, 25-21, 25-18 (at Jiangmen, China)
June 7: USA def. China 25-20, 25-22, 25-20 (at Jiangmen, China)
June 12: USA vs. Serbia, 4:40 p.m. ET (at Santa Fe, Argentina)
June 13: USA vs. Korea, 4:40 p.m. ET (at Santa Fe, Argentina)
June 14: USA vs. Argentina, 7:40 p.m. ET (at Santa Fe, Argentina)