A pair of Jordans, one a rookie and one an experienced veteran, led the USA women’s national volleyball team to a come-from-behind win over Bulgaria on Saturday in Bossier City, Louisiana.
Jordan Larson, the veteran, and Jordan Thompson, the new kid, had big matches as the USA beat Bulgaria 21-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10 in the second match of the Tokyo Qualification Tournament, 21-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10.
The USA remains in first place in Pool C, the only country in the four-team pool — which also includes Argentina and Kazakhstan — to come through two days of competition without a loss.
On Sunday, the USA plays Argentina to determine which country earns the berth into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The match begins at 1 p.m. Central and will be shown live on NBC.
USA captain Larson had a team-high 23 points, which saw the USA go down 1-2 to a determined Bulgaria team. Current University of Cincinnati opposite Thompson contributed 19 points after coming in off the bench for the second set.
“I got to give Bulgaria a lot of credit,” USA coach Karch Kiraly said. “They played a great game. No. 16 (Elitsa Vasileva) was all we could handle and more. We knew she was good, she had a very strong match. It took awhile for us to get going.
”But Jordan Thompson came in and gave us a lift, and so did Kelsey Robinson. Eventually we started figuring things out. It was pretty rough, and we got pushed to the brink and I loved the response that our team had down 2-1.”
Kiraly started Larson and Kim Hill on the left, Annie Drews at opposite, Tori Dixon and Haleigh Washington in the middle, Lauren Carlini setting, and Megan Courtney as libero.
After losing the first set, however, the coach replaced Drews with Thompson. Then facing a 1-2 deficit heading into the fourth set, Kiraly sent in Kelsey Robinson for Hill.
“We brought Kelsey in for a little bit of energy,” Kiraly said. “It seemed like things were getting a little flat at the end of the third set. Kim Hill was playing very strong volleyball, but we needed a little bit of spark. It doesn’t always happen, but Kelsey was able to do that.”
“Jordan Thompson, she is still in college, but she has some guts,” Larson added. “I am really proud of her. Kelsey was steady and did her job.”
By the end of the five-set match, the USA women had accumulated a 15-6 advantage in blocks, led by Washington with four, and an 8-4 lead in aces, with Larson, Hill, and Carlini each supplying two points from behind the service line.