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USA women sweep DR; men ready for Volleyball Nations League opener

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The USA after sweeping the Dominican Republic/Volleyball World photo

The USA women finished the first round of Volleyball Nations League with a sweep of the Dominican Republic.

Now it’s the men’s turn.

A USA team of reserves — the Olympians and coach John Speraw are staying home — is going to Antalya, Türkiye, and opens play Wednesday against Poland. The rest of the men’s field gets going Tuesday. In Antalya, Bulgaria plays France and Türkiye faces Canada, and in Rio de Janeiro, where the women just wrapped up, Argentina plays Japan and Cuba plays Brazil.

Wednesday before the USA match, the Netherlands plays Slovenia and in Rio, Germany plays Italy and Iran plays Serbia.

The USA women grinded to a 25-23, 25-20, 25-18 victory Sunday over the Dominicans as Avery Skinner had 18 kills and 10 digs. The other outside, Jordan Larson, had nine kills, hit .350, and had two aces to go with 13 digs. Sarah Parsons, who had an ace and a solo block, and Chiaka Ogbogu had seven kills each. Ogobogu had five solo blocks. 

Setter Jordyn Poulter had 11 digs and two kills.

The USA, which opened with a four-set win over Thailand, lost in four to both China and Brazil.

Certainly a very mixed week with a couple of disappointing losses to China and then to Brazil,” USA coach Karch Kiraly said. “We really struggled to generate the kind of offense we would like to and aspire to accomplish in zone 2 and zone 1, overhead, behind the setter, front row and back row. 

“So there remains plenty of work to be done on that front.”

Most of the 14 players in Rio got court time and, for that matter, Kiraly used one lineup against Thailand and then almost a completely different one against China.

The team is headed back to the training gym in Anaheim. 

“We’ve had a number of people arrive in the gym in the last seven working days or so, people like Haleigh Washington and Khalia Lanier and Kathryn Plummer and Kelsey Cook from Imoco Conegliano, the best team on the planet, and Dana Rettke, too. So you would expect to see some different faces for week two in Texas.”

The second round of VNL is at UT Arlington, the site of last year’s finals. The USA plays Canada — Canada’s a hot team right now,” Kiraly said — on May 28, has two days off, and then plays Bulgaria, Poland and Türkiye.

“We’ll only have a couple of days to practice this week where we can integrate those people. It will come fast and furious and we’ve got our work cut out for us, but I’m excited that we will have everybody who is with our program together Wednesday for the first time for a team meeting and a practice.”

Kiraly said the Serbians will be in Anaheim and they will scrimmage the Americans on Friday and then they’ll head to Arlington on Sunday. 

The 12-player, one-alternate USA men’s Olympics roster is staying back in Anaheim for the first round, Speraw said (Click here for our story about the USA roster).

“We can get some experience for some players who haven’t many opportunities to compete in VNL, but the roster has some experience in Jake Hanes, Josh Tuaniga and Kyle Dagostino.

“This is an important week for us in terms of recovery and preparation for the guys on the Olympic team,” Speraw said. “And also for these young players to go get wins in VNL to ensure that we qualify for the VNL finals.

“This summer’s VNL is going to require a complete and total team effort from the entire 30-man VNL roster.”

Speraw said that Andy Reed is going to serve as the head coach in Türkiye while Speraw stays with the Olympians.

Anna Hall gets a hand on the ball as Justine Wong-Orantes and Avery Skinner look on/Volleyball World photo

The post USA women sweep DR; men ready for Volleyball Nations League opener appeared first on Volleyballmag.com.


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