The U.S. women's national volleyball team, ranked No. 1 in the world by the FIVB, converted 58.8 percent of its attacks and totaled 13 blocks in blanking Peru, 25-17, 25-15, 25-12, on Wednesday in Matsumoto, Japan, to improve to 3-1 in the FIVB World Cup.
Team USA faces winless Algeria on Thursday to conclude the first stage of the World Cup in Matsumoto. After two off days, the Americans resume play in Okayama against Kenya, Argentina and Cuba.
"We are trying to get better every day in this tournament and in terms of service pressure, we did that today," U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said. "Our start was not so strong, but we finished much stronger. I liked our team effort and liked the fact that we got better at the service line."
With Stanford grad Foluke Akinradewo getting the day off, Tori Dixon paced the U.S. with 14 points, including nine kills on 11 attacks with one error to go with four blocks and an ace. Nicole Fawcett added 12 points via eight kills on 16 swings, two blocks and two aces.
"I think we played really well as a team," Dixon said. "We've been working on improving our game. I think we're getting better as a team and we proved that today. It was a good team effort. As a middle, you need a good pass and a good setter to give you the ball, so I think whenever a middle gets an MVP, it's a true test of what the team did and I think we did really well all together."
Natalie Hagglund, playing in her first-ever FIVB competition, got the start at libero and provided six excellent receptions on as many attempts to go with six digs. Robinson led the American back-row defense with eight digs to go with seven excellent receptions on 11 chances. Easy added seven excellent receptions on 20 chances.
"It felt great," Hagglund said. "This is like my dream come true being able to play with these kinds of players and play against players who are incredible. I am really happy to be here and working my hardest to get better and make my teammates better."
Team USA held a 13-3 margin in blocks and managed a slim 5-3 margin in aces. The American defense held Peru to a 25.6 kill percent and a .023 hitting efficiency (22-2-86).
The U.S. national team and Brazil switched up their lineups for the USA Volleyball Cup on Tuesday and the South Americans came out ahead, 25-17, 25-22, 25-22, at Jenny Craig Pavilion on the University of San Diego campus.
There are two more matches in the series, on Wednesday at the Galen Center in Los Angeles and Saturday at the Bren Center in Irvine.
U.S. head coach John Speraw gave his backups a chance to play against a team primarily made up of Brazil's backups.
"They've been training really well during the course of this preparation period for the World Cup," Speraw said. "I didn't think they performed as well as they have recently. We're going to need those guys to get through the World Cup so it's another good learning opportunity for them."
Stanford grad Kawika Shoji got the start at setter and Murphy Troy at opposite. Thomas Jaeschke and Paul Lotman started on the outsides while David Smith and Russell Holmes were in the middle. Dustin Watten was the libero.
"Brazil played really, really well. Their opposite, Renan, had a really good match," Shoji said. "We have a lot to improve on. We can really clean up our touches here and there. If you don't do that in these matches, the best team in the world will make you pay."