Kara Bajema, the outside hitter featured here on Tuesday, had 18 kills, a block, an ace and five digs Wednesday night as the USA women swept Belgium to open the third round of Volleyball Nations League. 

Bajema hit .536 as the USA (8-1) not only won 25-16, 25-21, 25-19 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, but pulled into a first-place tie with previously unbeaten Japan (Here’s a link to a video of Bajema’s hitting highlights versus Belgium).

Earlier in Calgary, the Netherlands (2-7) stunned Japan (8-1), despite 31 kills from Sarina Koga, in five. 

Annie Drews had 12 kills, two blocks, an ace and five digs. Kelsey Robinson had 11 kills, a block and 12 digs. Dana Rettke had four kills, a block, an ace and two digs. Tori Dixon had four kills, five digs and a block. 

Setter Jordyn Poulter, making her 2022 VNL debut, had three kills, three blocks and three digs and her team hit .392. Justine Wong-Orantes had five digs.

Britt Herbots led Belgium with 16 kills, a block, an ace and five digs.

The USA is back in action again Thursday in the Seven Chiefs Sportplex when it plays Serbia (6-3). Also in Calgary, Turkey plays the Netherlands and Germany faces Belgium. In matches in Sofia, Bulgaria, Thailand plays the Dominican Republic, Poland plays China and Korea plays Brazil.

On Wednesday in Bulgaria, Thailand swept Korea and Italy beat Poland in four behind 26 kills, two blocks, six digs and an ace from Paola Egonu.

In the Netherlands’ 23-25, 25-20, 24-26, 25-21, 15-10 win over Japan, the Dutch overcame Koga with a 16-2 blocks advantage and four players with 12 or more kills, 19 by Anne Buijs. In the fourth match of the first round, Japan swept the USA, which has won five in a row since.

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The USA’s Jordyn Poulter gets out of the way as her teammates look on against Belgium/Volleyball World photo

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