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Women’s World Cup: USA stay solid in second place

USA celebrate an important tie-break triumph against Russia
Osaka, Japan, September 27, 2019 – USA firmed their grip on a podium finish at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup after taking the tie-break on Russia 3-2 (24-26, 25-22, 25-22, 17-25, 15-8) on Friday evening. 

The victory places the Americans in second place with an 8-1 card, and two points ahead of Russia in the rankings. China remain in control of the top spot with an unblemished 9-0 record.

The main event at Site B’s Edion Arena started with neither team taking a definitive lead. USA and their resident scorers Andrea Drews and Kelsey Robinson were matched by Russia’s Nataliya Goncharova and Irina Voronkova. Backcourt defence spelled the difference for the European side at the end of the first set. 

USA then served aggressively which found Russia’s passing unit in disarray. The Americans likewise found good rhythm in their block formation. Russia coach Sergio Busato signalled for his substitute players, who performed well in some runs. 

USA setter Jordyn Poulter put together a well-run offence and provided the right decisions for almost any scenario that the Russians presented. High hitting accuracy from Robinson (27 Points) and Drews (23 points), and captain Jordan Larson’s all-around game contributed to the American victory.

Russian middle Irina Koroleva, who performed well during the match, gaining points in crucial moments, identified consistency as one of the main issues in her team's loss. 

“I think we didn’t have full concentration in all of those important moments in the match, which is why we lost today,” said Koroleva. 

Another thrilling tie-break saw hosts Japan overcome current world champions Serbia 3-2 (21-25, 21-25, 25-20, 25-20, 15-6) to the delight of the sold-out crowd in Site A’s Maruzen Intec Arena.

Earlier in the day, China strengthened their claim to retain the World Cup title, after picking up their ninth straight win in the competition. The reigning champions defeated the Netherlands 3-1 (25-19, 25-16, 21-25, 25-19).

China captain Zhu Ting scored 22 points, and retained the top spot in the best attackers table, posting a success rate of 55.74%. Dutch opposite Lonneke Sloetjes scored 24 points in her team's loss.

China captain Zhu Ting stays at the top of the Best Attackers list

"China so far have shown that they are a really, really good team. I’m happy that we won a set against them and it’s a shame that we couldn’t keep up with their level, but I have to be honest that they are the better team,” Sloetjes said. 

The Netherlands is only the second team to deal a set loss to China, after Brazil’s five-setter on September 22. 

In the first match in Site A, Brayelin Martinez led the charge with 26 points to help the Dominican Republic defeat Argentina 3-0 (25-16, 25-23, 27-25). 

In other matches in Site B, Brazil settled into the fourth spot after a straight-sets defeat of Cameroon 3-0 (25-11, 25-17, 25-18).

Korea improved to a 5-4 card after defeating Kenya 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-21). Coach Stefano Lavarini identified serve and reception as key in Friday’s win. 

The competition is completed on Saturday and Sunday at Osaka’s Maruzen Intec Arena and Edion Arena. The winners will be announced and awarded on Sunday, September 29, following the last matches of the single round-robin format tournament.

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