The USA women’s run through the Volleyball Nations League came to an abrupt halt Wednesday when they lost in five sets to Serbia. 

The USA went down 0-2, rallied to force a fifth, but lost 29-27, 25-23, 20-25, 20-25, 15-13 in the quarterfinals in Ankara, Türkye.

The three-time defending VNL champions ended 11-2. They started 3-0, got swept by Japan, but then won eight in a row over the second and third rounds. That included a sweep of Serbia two weeks ago in Calgary.

Serbia will play Brazil in the semifinals.

In the first quarterfinal Wednesday, Brazil beat Japan 29-27, 28-26, 20-25, 25-14. On Thursday, Italy was to play China and Türkye faced Thailand. The semifinals are Saturday and the the medal matches on Sunday.

Then next Wednesday in Bologna, Italy, the men’s quarterfinals get underway. The USA men play Brazil.

Kelsey Robinson, the veteran outside hitter, led the USA with 17 kills, 14 digs and four blocks against Serbia. The other outside, Ali Frantti, had 14 kills, two blocks and eight digs.

Annie Drews, left, and Chiaka Ogbogu block Serbia’s Bojana Milenkovic as Jordyn Poulter looks on/Volleyball World photo

Middle Chiaka Ogbogu had six kills, six blocks and two digs. The other middle, Haleigh Washington, had three kills, three blocks, an ace and a dig. Opposite Annie Drews came in and had 10 kills, a block and eight digs, and the other opposite, starter Jordan Thompson, had nine kills, two blocks and a dig. 

Kathryn Plummer, who played the first two sets, had five kills, a block and six digs. Setter Jordyn Poulter had a kills, two blocks and two aces. Libero Justine Wong-Orantes had 10 digs. 

The USA held a 21-14 blocking advantage. Serbia had six aces to the USA’s three.

Serbia’s Sara Lozo led her team with 15 kills, four blocks and three aces. Ana Bjelica had 17 kills and three blocks and Maja Aleksic had 12 kills and two blocks. Teodora Pusic had 15 digs and Drca and Lozo had 11 each. Brazil improved to 9-4.

“We are always prepared to go five, because we never lose five,” Bjelica said. ” It’s incredible. We expected to give our maximum and play a good game, but to beat USA, the best team in the world at the moment, is really difficult.”

The next major competition for the USA women is the FIVB Women’s World Championship that starts September 23 in the Netherlands. The USA plays Kazakhstan on September 24.

Serbia celebrates beating the USA/Volleyball World photo

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