After circling the globe, the United States have made it back to the Western hemisphere, wrapping up the preliminary rounds of the Volleyball Nations League against No. 3 Serbia, which is holding out several starters, South Korea and host Argentina.
Kelsey Robinson (above, red jersey) has been a more consistent libero for the Americans since taking over in week 3, and Kim Hill leads the tournament with a 22.22% reception.
Middle blocker Jovana Stevanovic (#15) will be Serbia’s highest scorer in attendance in week 5 in Santa Fe, Argentina.
The Americans clinched a spot in the Final 6 on Wednesday evening while eating dinner in China.
Italy overpowered Serbia offensively with help from a 28 points effort by young star Paola Egonu in a five-set win on Tuesday, the Italians third straight VNL victory, while the Netherlands took advantage of 20 Dominican Republic miscues in a home sweep.
Mihajlovic underwent testing in Serbia on Saturday before joining the team on Monday in Rotterdam, but won’t play in week 4.
Serbia is the hottest team coming into this group, with wins in last six matches, including a five-setter over Turkey in its last outing. While much of the focus is on Pool 14 this week with World No. 1 China, No. 2 USA, No. 4 Brazil and No. 5 facing off, the results of this pool could be just as important as teams look to block each other out of the race for the Final Six and Serbia, Italy and the Netherlands still very much in the mix.
Irina Voronkova was too hot to handle for Belgium as the Russian star put up 23 points in a four-set win Thursday. Serbia picked up two key points in the VNL standings, rallying for a five-set win over Turkey thanks to a 28-point effort by Tijana Boskovic after trailing 2-1 in the match.
Russia boasted a 22-13 lead in blocks to rally for a 5-set victory over Turkey after falling behind 2-1 in the match. Serbia rode double-digit scoring efforts by Brankica Mihajlovic, Bojana Milenkovic and Stefana Veljkovic to an easy sweep of Belgium to keep pace atop the VNL leaderboard.
Turkey owned the net, both offensively and defensively, in a sweep of Belgium, while Tijana Boskovic delivered 25 points as Serbia topped Russia in every statistical category in another Pool 10 sweep.