FIVB - Volleyball World Grand Prix

MATCH INFO

USA end Czech Republic's run for Grand Prix Finals


USA's Lauren Gibbemeyer celebrates a point with her team

Sendai, Japan, August 16, 2013 – USA defeated the Czech Republic on Friday in a three-set sweep (25-20, 25-20, 25-23), ending the Czech women’s chances of moving on to the 2013 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Finals in Japan.

It was the first time the two teams had met in the World Grand Prix. In other competitions, the USA have now have a five-game winning streak over the Czechs.

The win gives USA a 6-1 record in this year’s tournament with 17 points, while the Czech Republic falls to 2-5 with six points, making the top six out of reach.

Kristin Lynn Hildebrand was the top scorer for the USA with 15 points. Aneta Havlickova also scored 15 for the Czech Republic. USA had the advantage in blocks 13-8, but the Czechs led in service aces 4-2. The Czechs made 19 errors to the Americans’ 15.

The Americans opened the match with a three-point spurt before the Czechs got into a rhythm and took seven of the next eight points, including two good kills by Aneta Havlickova. The Czechs led by a point at the first technical timeout, but the Americans pulled even at 11 and, aided by successive blocks, were three points ahead at the second TTO.

While neither side was at the top of its game, errors were creeping into the Czech game and coach Carlo Parisi called timeouts at 14-18 and 15-21. A good hit by Nicole Fawcett earned the Americans six set points but coach Karch Kiraly called his players off court when they dropped the next three points. He needn’t have worried – a poor strike by Kristyna Pastulova on the next play handed the first set to the USA 25-20.

There wasn’t more than a point between the two teams through to 10-10 in the second set when American captain Kristin Lynn Hildebrand came up with a good spike and block on Havlickova, who also spiked long, giving USA a 13-10 lead and prompting Parisi to call a timeout. Fawcett followed up with a block on Michaela Mlejnkova and a good kill of her own to stretch the Americans’ lead to five points at 15-10. The Czechs never got closer than two points and an ace – left by the Czechs – gave USA a 21-15 lead and Parisi called his players off court again. Hildebrand spiked her team to setpoint at 24-19 and after a point by Havlickova, a hit by Lauren Gibbemeyer put USA 2-0 up.

Hildebrand started to rip some shots at the start of the third set and scored four points with kills as the Americans took a two-point lead at the first TTO. But successive defensive mix-ups allowed the Czechs to go 12-11 up and Kiraly called a timeout. Tamari Miyashiro fluffed the next service reception and the Czechs held a two-point advantage at the second TTO. USA pulled the scores even at 18-18 but a spike by Michaela Monzoni and a block by Sarka Kubinova on Kimberly Hill put the Czechs two points up at 20-18  and Kiraly called a timeout.

Two good shots by Hill and a wide kill by Tereza Vanzurova gave the Americans a one-point lead and prompted Parisi to haul his players off. Christa Harmotto then came up with a huge block on Havlickova to give the Americans a two-point lead at 22-20 before the Czechs drew level again. A long shot by Vanzurova brought up matchpoint at 24-22 and, after a good spike by Ivana Pichotova, the same player then sent a serve long to finish off the match

As it stands now, The United States are one of three countries in the top-six who reached the Finals last year, alongside Brazil and China. Turkey, Thailand and Cuba completed the field last year.

The 2013 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Finals will be held in Sapporo, Japan from August 28 to September 1. Japan has hosted the World Grand Prix Finals four times in the past with Sapporo being a fifth host city after Tokyo in 2009, Yokohama in 2008, Sendai in 2005 and Kobe in 1997.

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