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It's a team effort as USA go on record run with win over Russia

 
Jiangmen, China, June 5, 2018 - The United States continued their winning ways on Tuesday night with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-18) victory over Russia that was led by Michelle Bartsch-Hackley's team-leading 16 points but was more a showcase of just how well the Americans play as a unit.

The reigning world champions never really looked troubled by their opponents and improved on an already impressive run of form in this event, led by the likes of wing spiker Bartsch-Hackley, opposite spiker Andrea Drews and wing spiker Kimberly Hill (nine points each).

They spread the points around - and the joy, judging by their celebrations at the final whistle.

For the Russians, the worrying statistic is that they have now failed to take a set off four opponents in the VNL. The positives were a fightback in the third set and the input off the bench of 20-year-old middle blocker Angelina Lazarenko. She added some bite to an effort that was led by wing spiker Kseniia Parubets' 12 points.

Team USA entered the fourth round of the VNL on an incredible streak of seven straight victories in world matches, all coming in straight sets. They wasted no time in making it eight victories in a row - and 24 straight sets.

The Americans tore through the first set in just 23 minutes with Carli Lloyd's precision setting continually putting her team's big guns in the perfect position.

With the VNL finals looming on the horizon now, the fourth round has taken on huge importance as teams vie to make the field of five to join hosts China in Nanjing from June 27 to July 1.

The intrigue in this Pool 14 is the fact that Brazil and the USA had been the standard-setters so far - along with Serbia - while the Chinese have used their position as hosts to dabble with their line-up. It's had mixed results so it remains to be seen how settled coach Lang Ping decides to make things now. Russia, meanwhile, look to be among a bunch of teams looking to sneak through to the finals. So results in Pool 14 could have a massive influence going forward.

For his part US coach Karch Kiraly has been able to dig deep into the reserves of talent at his disposal. Captain Jordan Larson was left on the bench on Tuesday, allowing other players to step up. That's the way it played out again on Tuesday night. Bartsch-Hackley in particular seemed to have already read the Russians' playbook.

So the US now move on to a clash with Brazil on Wednesday night - and they look to be loving the challenge the VNL has presented, with players even breaking out into some spontaneous dance moves on the way to their comprehensive win at the Jiangmen Sports Hall.

For their part the Russians will need to regroup and look to taking some of the vital points against China and Brazil.


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