USA’S BARTSCH-HACKLEY UNLEASHES HER INCREDIBLE POWER IN VICTORY OVER JAPAN
Toyota, Japan, May 22, 2018 – Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Kimberley Hill combined for 38 points as the United States turned on the power to beat Pool 5 hosts Japan 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-23) in the inaugural women’s FIVB Volleyball Nations League on Tuesday.
Utilising their height advantage at the net, the two American heavy hitters dominated in attack, with Bartsch-Hackley scoring 21 points and Hill finishing with 17 as Team USA chalked up an 11th consecutive win over Japan, dating back to 2011.
The Americans, ranked No.2 in the world, were even more dominant in defence, outscoring Japan 12-2 in blocking, led by Lauren Gibbemeyer, who was an almost impenetrable presence at the net, collecting a game-high seven blocks.
While the sixth-ranked Japan could not match the USA in defence, they did marginally outpoint them in spikes, with 10 players registering at least one kill.
Yuki Ishii led the way for Japan with 13 spikes from 28 swings while Mami Uchiseto and the left-handed Mari Horikawa had six each.
With the win, the USA improved to 3-1 in the tournament after hosting Pool 3 last week while Japan dropped to 1-3 with the loss after an entertaining match for the crowd at Sky Hall Toyota.
The USA took control of the match right from the outset with Bartsch-Hackley and Hill leading the attack and Gibbemeyer frustrating the Japanese hitters with her extended reach.
Kelly Murphy (7 points) and Rachael Adams (4 points) were also prominent before the Japanese started to find some inroads in the third set with captain Nana Iwasaka (4 points) and Risa Shinnabe (4 points) spotting some holes in the American defence.
Japan led by three points late in the set but the visitors kept chipping away and inched past right at the end to win in straight sets.
Japan’s next match is against Belgium on Wednesday while the USA faces the Netherlands, the only unbeaten team in the competition.
USA coach Karch Kiraly: “We always respect Japan. They show great fighting spirit, and tough and interesting plays. Today our players performed their assignments.”
USA captain Jordan Larson: “We played hard from the start. Japan showed tough defence, serves and pick-ups especially in the third set.”
Japan coach Kumi Nakada: “We are disappointed with our strategy from the start. We need improvement. In the third set, I changed some players because I wanted to change the game flow.”
Japan captain Nana Iwasaka: “I couldn’t play to change the flow of the game today, but we will get back and prepare for tomorrow’s match.”
Japan player Kanami Tashiro: “USA got their game going from the start, so we were not able to show our good performance.”
Japan player Sarina Koga: “Our team could not deal with USA’s strong blocking strategy.”
Japan player Yuki Ishii: “I should have played aggressively in this match. I did not do a lot of spikes from the back.”
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