USA women sweep Serbia, advance to VNL semifinals

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The USA celebrates a point against Serbia/FIVB photo

The USA women, who entered the Volleyball Nations League Final Six with just two losses during their first 15 matches, have avenged them them both.

A day after beating Turkey, the Americans put a punctuation point on their presence in Nanjing, China, with a 29-27, 25-22, 25-19 over Serbia to improve to 15-2 in 2018 and will play China in Saturday’s semifinals. That match is at 7:45 a.m. Eastern and can be seen on FloVolleyball.tv.

That’s because later Friday, Brazil blasted China 25-20, 25-22, 25-22. Brazil will play Turkey in the other semifinal.

Michelle Bartsch-Hackley continued to lead the USA on offense, this time with 14 kills and two aces. Kelly Murphy added eight kills and a block and Foluke Akinradewo had five kills and four blocks.

Serbia’s Tijana Boskovic had 25 kills and two blocks.

“We love playing against the great teams in the world,” USA coach Karch Kiraly said. “Serbia is certainly one of those great teams that we have a great deal of respect for, for the players, their coaches and their program.

“Whether we win or lose, we learn a lot because the two teams push each other and make things difficult. This was a good learning moment, and we are very happy to advance to tomorrow’s semifinals.”

Early in the VNL the USA lost to Turkey in Lincoln, Nebraska, but made up for it with a five-set comeback win on Wednesday. And the Americans lost to Serbia in four sets just two weeks ago in Argentina.

“I think we were really patient, which (Wednesday) we were not patient very much,” Bartsch-Hackley said. “I think we learned a lot. We seem to learn a lot from Turkey every time we play them. We learned a lot from that match and we improved.”

The USA beat both China and Brazil in the VNL.

“Every team is good here, and I think we proved that yesterday being down 0-2 and coming back,” Bartsch-Hackley said. “I think it is more fun for us to just keep going at them really hard when we are up. I think we play a lot more free when that happens.”

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