USA women thump DR and will play Serbia; Korea, Brazil win; men’s semis on tap

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The Dominican Republic's Bethania de la Cruz takes a swing in Ariake Arena/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Annie Drews had 21 kills and hit .522 as the USA women overpowered the Dominican Republic  25-11, 25-20, 25-19 on Wednesday to move into the Tokyo Olympics volleyball semifinals.

They will play Serbia, which swept Italy, on Friday. Both the USA and Serbia are 5-1 in these Olympics.

“We know each other very well so I hope we are going to have another good match,” Serbia’s Maja Ognjenovic said.

In the other semifinal, Korea, which beat Turkey in five, will play Brazil, which defeated ROC (Russia) in four.

MEN’S SEMIFINALS

Action continues in Ariake Arena on Thursday with the men’s semifinals and all four teams are from Pool B, the one in which the USA finished fifth and out of the running.

Brazil plays ROC and France plays Argentina. 

Brazil and ROC tied for first in Pool B. ROC swept when they met on July 28.

Argentina finished third in Pool B, while France took fourth. Argentina won in five when they met on July 28.

Annie Drews reaches high on the right side/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

WOMEN’S QUARTERFINALS

USA TOPS DR — Drews, the free-swinging lefty in at opposite for the injured Jordan Thompson, got her 21 kills on 36 attacks and hit .527 after having only two errors.

“We stayed disciplined with our game plan,” said Drews, who also had eight digs. “We don’t have one player we depend on. We have 12. We have the mindset that we’re all starters and we each have a job to do.”

That included Micha Hancock, getting the start as Jordyn Poulter remained out with an ankle injury of her own. Hancock had 37 assists, six digs, one of the team’s six aces, and a kill.

Michelle Bartsch-Hackley had 12 kills, a block, and seven digs. Middle Haleigh Washington had seven kills and hit .461 to go with two blocks, an ace, an five digs. Jordan Larson had five kills, a block, an ace, and 15 digs. Foluke Akinradewo had two kills, three blocks, and two aces. 

“The USA is such a strong serving team and we couldn’t control the right side of their attack either,” said the Dominican’s Camil Inmaculada Dominguez Martinez. “We knew what they would do and if you don’t respond quickly they’re going to roll right over you.”

Libero Justine Wong-Orantes had 13 digs and two assists.

“We knew from the get-go we were ready. We felt that in the locker room,” Wong-Orantes said. “Our service pressure helped relieve the pressure off of our blocking defense. We just had a game plan and we executed it really well.”

Both Thompson and Poulter were with the team in uniform and USA coach Karch Kiraly said they were available but were obviously not needed.

“The goal was to force their serve reception well off the net so their setter has to be scrambling around,” Kiraly said. It all started with and came down to our serving. 

“The Dominican Republic is a dangerous team. They pushed Brazil to five sets. They can throw different line-ups at you. We had to adjust to their changes.”

Brayelin Martinez led the DR with 15 kills and a block.

“The USA is a much stronger team with a lot of international experience,” the DR’s Brenda Castillo said. “I think our inexperience showed and we couldn’t keep up. I’m proud of how we got to the quarterfinals, which most people were not expecting.”

Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Marte Frica joust/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

SERBIA SWEEPS ITALY — Serbia, the team that swept the USA in the 2016 semifinals at the Rio Olympics, beat Italy 25-21, 25-14, 25-21. Tijana Boskovic led with 21 kills and hit .300. She also had three blocks, and six digs.

Italy’s Anna Danesi said their strategy was to stop Boskovic, “but we didn’t do that. It wasn’t easy.”

KOREA TOPS TURKEY — Kim Yeon Young had 26 kills as Korea won 17-25, 25-17, 28-26, 18-25, 15-13. 

“On a scale of 0 to 100, we were 5000. The players were so focused. Their will made the difference,” Korea coach Stefano Lavarini said.

“We made it to the semifinals of the London Olympics in 2012 and it’s been nine years, a long time ago,” Korea’s Kim Yeon Koung said. “This means so much for our team and for Korean volleyball.”

Jeongah Park added 15 kills for Korea. 

Meryem Boz had 11 kills for Turkey.

BRAZIL DOWNS ROC —The Brazilians rallied for a 23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-22 victory as Fernanda Rodrigues and Gabriela Braga Guimaraes had 12 kills each and Caroline De Oliveira Saad Gattaz had 11. The Brazilians had 14 blocks, four each by Rosamaria Montibeller and Ana Carolina Da Silva.

Rodrigues on playing Korea: “This semifinal, it’s another kind of tournament. It’s one of those games of your life. We cannot lose.

“They played very well this morning. Korea are going very well. We have to be very careful against them.”

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Haleigh Washington hits against the Dominican Republic/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

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