BOSSIER CITY, Louisiana — It’s always special when the USA plays Brazil in volleyball, but Saturday night it was a mismatch as the American cruised to a 25-21, 25-20, 25-18 victory.
It left the USA women 3-0 in the Volleyball Nations League as they prepared to finish the first stage with a Sunday-afternoon match against Japan, which is also 3-0.
It was their first meeting since the USA also swept Brazil in the gold-medal match in last summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
Jordan Thompson, injured for that match, led with 15 kills, a block and three aces.
Ali Frantti had 11 kills, 11 digs and two blocks. Sarah Wilhite Parsons had nine kills, five digs and three blocks and Dana Rettke had five kills, three blocks, a dig and an ace. Louisville product Anna Stevenson made her first start as the other middle and had six kills, a dig and two blocks.
Lauren Carlini had a kill, two aces, 13 assists and 12 digs. Her team hit .255. Libero Morgan Hentz had 17 digs.
“Our coaches had a great scouting report for us. We had a great plan,” Wilhite Parsons said. “We didn’t know exactly who was going to be on the court (for Brazil). But I think we prepared well against each hitter and executed well.”
Serving tough was a key.
“We know Brazil’s a very good passing team and the only way to create trouble is to hit the serve really flat, it barely crosses the net, maybe it’s even going down, and to hit space around passers,” USA coach Karch Kiraly said. “Our servers did an excellent job tonight and that made our job a lot easier because there we some phases of the game we weren’t very good in, but serving that was a really strong performance.”
Brazil, which hit just .125, headed home 3-1 after beating Germany in four, sweeping Poland and beating the Dominican Republic in four. Brazil gets to play in its home country next as the host team in Brasilia. It faces Turkey on June 16 and then plays the Netherlands, Italy and Serbia.
Against the USA, Ana Cristina de Souza had seven kills and Priscila Moreira and Julia Bergmann had six each. Bergman, the Georgia Tech star, had a block and seven digs. Ana Da Silva had five blocks and three kills.
“I think there were some things that each team did well. I think it was an inconsistent game,” Kiraly said. “There would be some good plays and then some not so good plays. That’s to be expected with some younger players and with how early we are in VNL. We are only in the first stage, week one, so I’m sure both teams have things we know we have to work on and get better, but it’s always an honor and a pleasure to share a court with the legendary Brazilian women’s national team program.
“Brazil has great, great volleyball and we love it every time we get to compete and we always learn about ourselves.”
The three matches so far have given Kiraly a chance to play everyone on the 14-woman roster except for setter Jenna Gray. The newcomers include Hentz, Brionne Butler, Kara Bajema, Frantti and Kendall White. Tori Dixon played the first two matches.
“We’re excited to blend the experience we have with the younger players,” Kiraly said. “Everybody has responded really well. It can be a little intimidating to play at the FIVB level for the first time but they have some really calming influences around them, like Lauren Carlini, both our Olympic opposites, Jordan Thompson and Annie Drews, Tori Dixon and plenty of other people. The blend seems to be working all right so far.”
The USA-Brazil highlights video is below.
Also in the VNL
Earlier Saturday in the Brookshire Grocery Arena, Poland swept Korea and Japan beat the Dominican in four. Japan opened the tournament with a sweep of Korea and then beat German in five.
Play opens Sunday with Poland vs. Germany and after USA-Japan, Korea plays Canada.
In Ankara, Turkey, on Saturday, Belgium beat Thailand in five, China defeated Italy in four, and Turkey swept Bulgaria.
Sunday, the Netherlands plays Serbia, China plays Thailand and Turkey plays Belgium.
USA U21 National Team
Twenty players have been training at nearby Centenary College in Shreveport under head coach Dan Fisher of Pittsburgh and assistants Heather Olmstead of BYU and Jon Newman-Gonchar of New Mexico. Saturday they announced the 12 who will play in the U21 Pan American Cup that begins Tuesday in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
The group includes Nebraska libero Lexi Rodriguez, who was the captain of the U20 USA team that placed fifth in 2021 on the FIVB World Championships. Rodriguez was a DS on the Nebraska team that lost in five in the NCAA championship match to Wisconsin.
Also on the squad is Creighton’s Norah Sis, the outside hitter who was the VolleyballMag.com national freshman of the year in 2021.
The USA opens pool play against Costa Rica and then plays Canada and Argentina.