2017 FIVB WORLD GRAND PRIX – Group 1
Pool B1 of the 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix has concluded with Team USA and China taking down their opponents in tough battles. Team USA fought through a five-setter while China was in a marathon match with Italy.
The Pool is being held in Kunshan, China, with the USA vs Russia match bringing in a crowd of 1,380 while the China vs Italy match racked up a strong crowd of 4,440 to cheer on their home team.
Though both teams won their matches, China remains atop of the group in the matter of points scored. China has three points, stemming off their four-set victory, while Team USA has two points to their total with their match going into five sets. As far as the points scored, the team’s overall record in the tournament will be the ultimate determinant as to whether they would make it to the finals of the tournament, but in the case of a tie, points would be the next factor in the decision.
Pool B1 Standings
USA def. Russia
- 3-2, (22-25, 25-19, 25-27, 25-16, 15-11)
Team USA used strong attacks, blocks and serves to take down the tough Russian squad. In attacks, Team USA put down 55 to Russia’s 42 and 15-9 in serves. Their blocking was fairly even, with Team USA taking the slight edge of 13-12.
The American started off the match with a first set loss to the Russian crew but quickly turned that around in the second set to tie the match at 1-1. In the third set, the two teams traded off points late in the match, allowing for extra points to occur, with the final score going in favor of Russia 27-25. Team USA once again rallied back to easily handle the second set 25-16.
In the fifth set, Team USA used a tremendous 11-2 run to take down Russia after going down 8-3 early. Kelly Murphy of the USA ended the impressive fifth set comeback with a cross-court shot to win 15-11.
Murphy led the Americans to their five-set victory over Russia with 19 points on 15 kills and four blocks. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley added another 17 points for the Americans on 13 kills and four aces while teammate Madison Kingdon put down 15 points on 10 kills, four blocks and one aced serve.
“It is a difficult start to the competition against a team like Russia and tomorrow against Italy. Our rivals are strong and we will do our best,” said USA’s head coach Karch Kiraly.
Russia had a steady output of offense but it was not enough to take down the Americans. Irina Fetisova, Irina Voronkova and Ksenlla Parubets each put down 13 points in the loss.
China def. Italy
- 3-1, (25-20, 20-25, 25-23, 25-20)
In each set of the match, both teams reached 20 points of more, making this a grueling four-set battle. China overcame Italy with strong blocks and serves, despite Italy out-hitting the Chinese side.
China bounced out to a quick 1-0 lead in the match with a 25-20 win over Italy, who in turn returned the favor with a 25-20 second set win to tie the match at 1-1. In the next two sets, China fought tooth and nail for their win over Italy, using strong performances from a number of players.
The team’s captain and Olympic MVP Zhu Ting did not see much playing time in the match against Italy, only stepping out onto the court in the fourth set as a sub, scoring just one point.
Stepping up for China while Ting is not on the court has been Xiangyu Gong with 13 points on nine kills, two blocks and two aces. Xiaotong Liu contributed 12 points while Xinyue Yuan added another 11. Stepping up at the net defensively was Yuanyuan Wang with four blocks on the match.
The Italians had a strong presence on offense in the match with five players contributing double-digit points. Indre Sorokaite led the pack with 14 points on nine kills, two block and three aces while Caterina Bosetti added another 12 points.