In what was certainly their most exciting match so far in Volleyball Nations League, Kara Bajema had 24 kills, Annie Drews 20 and Kelsey Robinson 19 as the USA women pulled out a 25-22, 18-25, 27-25, 23-25, 18-16 victory Saturday over Türkiye.
The win in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, left the Americans 10-1 as they clinched a spot in the quarterfinals that begin July 13 in Ankara, Türkiye. The USA wraps up the third round of the VNL on Sunday against Germany.
Entering the last day, the USA and Brazil are tied for first at 10-1. The USA beat Brazil in Bossier City in the first round. Italy is third at 9-2, followed by suddenly slumping Japan and Serbia, tied at 8-3. China and Türkiye are a game back.
In Sofia, Bulgaria, on Sunday, China plays Korea, Thailand plays Italy and Poland plays Bulgaria.
Also in Calgary, Belgium plays Japan and the Netherlands play Canada.
Against Türkiye, the USA was outblocked 12-5 but held a 9-2 advantage on service aces. That included two aces by Bajema, who continued to lead on offense when she’s in the lineup. Bajema, who hit .361, also had 10 digs.
Haleigh Washington had 10 kills and an ace and Hannah Tapp had two kills, five digs and four blocks, including a stuff to end the match.
Setter Jordyn Poulter had an ace and three digs. Libero Justine Wong-Orantes had 17 digs.
“It was huge,” Bajema said in the VolleyballWorld.tv post-match interview. “This is our first fifth-setter of 2022. I thought we put forth a lot of effort. We were down for a majority of the fifth, the majority of the third. It was a great comeback. I loved it.”
The USA was down 24-21 in the third set before rallying.
“It definitely wasn’t a pretty match, but we got it done,” Drews told USA Volleyball. “I thought our passers did a really nice job tonight, and as a group, we did a good job putting our foot on the gas when we needed to.
“Playing Türkiye is always a fun match-up, and going five sets is always good for us to experience and learn from. I think we have a lot to be excited about, but equally as much to learn from and get better at.”
Ebrar Karkurt led Türkiye with 24 kills and three blocks. Zehra Gunes had 14 kills and five blocks, and Saliha Sahin had 15 kills, a block and an ace.
While the women finish, after a day off, the men start their third round of VNL. The USA men play Germany on Tuesday in Osaka, Japan. France and Poland lead the men’s standings at 7-1 and the USA is tied with Italy and Japan at 6-2. Brazil and the Netherlands are a game back.