American women lose opener of FIVB Grand Champions Cup

Stanford grad Foluke Akinradewo pounds a ball through a block. Photo courtesy of FIVB.

The U.S. women’s national volleyball team, ranked No. 2 in the world, lost to 2016 Olympic Games champion China 18-25, 25-18, 25-14, 25-17 on Tuesday, the opening day of the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

The WGCC is a six-team, round robin event held in the first year of each Olympic quadrennial. Team USA faces No. 10 Korea on Wednesday in Tokyo. Following an off-day to travel to Nagoya, the Americans face No. 5 Russia on Friday.

Middle Rachael Adams scored 13 points with 12 kills on 14 swings and a block. Stanford grad Foluke Akinradewo added 12 points with 10 kills on 19 attacks, one block and one ace. Outside hitter Jordan Larson contributed 10 kills on 28 attacks and an ace for 11 points.

The U.S. benefited from two 4-0 runs in the opening set to stake leads of 14-9 and 23-17 en route to winning 25-18.

China answered in the second set by jumping to a 17-9 advantage and went on to win 25-18.

China scored 14 of the last 19 points of the third set to win 25-14.

China used a 5-1 run to move into the fourth set’s second technical timeout up 16-11 and went on to win 25-17.

Opposite Annie Drews, making her first FIVB-tournament start, had nine kills on 25 attacks in playing the first three sets.

Outside hitter Kim Hill recorded six kills and two aces for eight points in starting the first three sets.

Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, who started the fourth set, tallied two kills and an ace for three points.

Setter Carli Lloyd charted two blocks, but missed most of the third set due to injury.

Lauren Carlini, a sub in all four sets, recorded a block. Opposite Aiyana Whitney rounded out the scoring with a kill in starting the fourth set.

Libero Megan Courtney had a U.S.-best eight digs to go with six excellent receptions on 11 chances. Hill was credited with 15 excellent receptions on 31 chances. Larson turned in nine excellent receptions on 27 opportunities to go with seven digs.

Lloyd was credited with 25 running sets on 81 total set attempts while Carlini added eight running sets on 19 total set attempts.

The setting pair led the Americans to a 41.3 kill percent and .240 hitting efficiency (50-21-121).

In contrast, the Chinese converted 47.9 percent of their attacks and limited their hitting errors to nine as part of a .402 hitting efficiency (56-9-117).

China’s height created offensive woes for the U.S. at times resulting in a 13-5 block advantage. The Chinese also held a 7-5 edge in aces to go with a 56-50 kill margin.

China’s Zhu Ting led all scorers with 21 points with 16 kills on 28 attacks, four blocks and an ace. Zhang Changning added 18 points that included 13 kills, four blocks and an ace for the Chinese.

The U.S. started Hill and Larson at outside hitter, Adams and Akinradewo at middle, Drews at opposite and Lloyd at setter. Courtney was the libero for the match.

During the FIVB World Grand Prix, the U.S. and China split a pair of matches with the Americans winning the first match 3-0 before the Chinese came back to win 3-2 the following week.

— USA Volleyball

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