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MBH turns up the power as USA sweep China aside

 
Jiangmen, China, June 7, 2018 - Michelle Bartsch-Hackley came up huge with 18 points but the talk will be all about the United States' all-round game after a 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-20) victory over China that has officially spelt out their intentions for this inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

The wing spiker led the way with 16 spikes among her tally - and continues to be the leading American player - but she found ample support from the likes of middle blocker Tetori Dixon and wing spiker Jordan Larson (11 points each).

There were moments when the US were put under pressure by the host nation but they were fleeting as the reigning world champions marched on towards the VNL finals. That the visitors came back from 15-20 down in the third set before sealing the deal spoke volumes about their form. Every move has worked for the Americans since a shock 3-2 loss to Turkey back on May 16 seemed to fine-tune their focus.

China in the meantime had star and captain Zhu Ting adding to her collection of points - and highlight reel moves - with a team-leading 14. They would also be pleased with the continued form of wing spiker Liu Xiaotong, who chimed in with 11 points. But the Rio Olympic gold medal winners are yet to fully find a consistent flow of form as coach Lang Ping plays around with her team sheet. 

The US had been in superb form coming into the clash, winning nine on end and only losing one set in the process - to Brazil the night before in their 3-1 victory.

Coach Karch Kiraly has been able to rotate his talent-laden squad with abandon during that run - even at one point giving captain Larson a night off - but it has not hampered the world champion's progress through the rounds. The barnstorming Bartsch-Hackley has been at the forefront of their charge and such was the case again on Thursday.

The Americans finished their trip to Jiangmen 3-0 - and 11-1 overall - and they'll take some beating from now on in, as they head to Santa Fe, Argentina, for the next round of matches, against Serbia, South Korea and the host nation.

The Chinese head off on 6-6, comfortable of course in the knowledge they have already qualified for the Nanjing finals as host nation and with one more round of matches to go to fine-tune their rotation, and their game plan. They'll face hosts Germany in Stuttgart from June 12, as well as the Netherlands and one of the tournament surprise packets Turkey.


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