The United States women’s team began their World Grand Prix journey with a 3-0 start, earning eight of the nine points available for them to earn. To start their week, Team USA took down Russia in a five-set match, followed by two three-set sweeps over Italy and reigning Olympic champions, China.
With their success after the first weekend of the tournament, there are players that are beginning to emerge as the team’s go-to, superstar players. One of these players is Kelly Murphy who ranks sixth overall in the Best Scorers category with 47 points after week one. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley is also a dominant factor for the team with 37 points. Both Murphy and Bartsch-Hackley have been around the international circuit for a while now, balancing out an extremely youthful Team USA roster.
Murphy has stepped up for the United States, having the most effective attack at 55.56% on 40 kills, nine errors and 72 attempts. Additionally, Murphy ranks eighth in blocking efficiency, having seven blocks with 10 errors on 27 attempts for 0.64 blocks per set.
In the team’s first match against Russia, Murphy put down 19 points for the American’s in the five-set match. 15 of the points were off kills, while the remaining four were blocks. Against Italy, Murphy put down nine points, all on kills. Concluding the first week, Murphy threw down another 19 points with 16 kills and three blocks.
Murphy competed with Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, helping the team to the bronze medal finish. At the 2016 Games, Murphy played a consistent role for the team with 76 points on 65 kills, eight blocks and three aces.
Bartsch-Hackley finishes the week ranked 10th overall in attack efficiency with 28 kills, nine errors on 72 attempts for a 38.89% average. Her serving efficiency ranks third with an average of 0.45 aces per set, having five aces with one error on 47 attempts.
On serve receive, Barsch-Hackley ranks third overall with an 88.68% passing efficiency on the serve with 50 excellent passes and three errors on 53 attempts.
Against Russia, Bartsch-Hackley contributed 17 points in the winning effort with 13 kills and four aced serves. In the following match against Italy, she put down another 10 points, with seven kills, two blocks and one ace. Bartsch-Hackley wrapped up the week with 10 points in the match against China, with eight kills and two blocks.
Other Players Contributing Big For Team USA
Lauren Gibbemeyer has been a presence at the net for the United States with seven blocks and an average of 0.64 blocks per set. Overall, Gibbemeyer has 24 points to her name, with 14 kills and three aces on top of her blocking. Tori Dixon has proved herself effective for Team USA in the first week, with 23 points on 14 kills, five blocks and four aces. Also holding their own on the court is Madison Kingdon with 30 points overall on 24 kills, four blocks and two aces.
Libero Amanda Benson has been a strong presence on serve receive, having 51 excellent passes with five errors on 56 attempts for an 82.14% passing efficiency. Justine Wong-Orantes has 24 excellent passes with two errors on 26 attempts when she stepped out onto the court for the Americans.
Team USA will take on Turkey, Italy and China in week two. The squad has already played Italy and China, sweeping both teams in week one, but will have to watch out for vengeful teams looking for revenge. Consistent play from Murphy and Bartsch-Hackley will keep the U.S. alive in the tournament.