The USA women had already clinched its spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
But the Americans were not done and put a punctuation point a tremendous 2019 with a silver medal in the FIVB World Cup that wrapped up Sunday in Osaka, Japan.
They beat Korea 25-21, 25-16, 16-25, 25-22 to cap a tournament run that saw them go 10-1 in a round-robin competition that started with five matches in Hamamatsu, Japan, continued with them going 2-1 in Sapporo (losing to eventual gold-medalist China) and then going 3-0 the past three days, beating Russia in five, sweeping Cameroon, and then topping Korea.
China finished 11-0, losing just three sets in the tournament, while Russia, which got bronze, went 8-3.
The USA last won silver in 2011 and took bronze in 2003, 2007, and 2015, the only country to medal in five consecutive World Cups.
“We have a lot to be proud of,” USA coach Karch Kiraly told USA volleyball. “We played a great tournament. All 14 of our players made really important and critical contributions to that. We had one disappointing loss to China – they are playing a very good tournament. But we have a lot to be excited about. We look forward to coming back here in way less than a year for the 2020 Olympics.”
The USA women clinched their Tokyo 2020 Olympic berth in the Olympic qualifying tournament August 4, allowing them to begin preparations in earnest.
“We need to keep getting better in our receive-set-attack game when the other team is serving,” Kiraly said. “That is a big part of who we are and to continue to improve our service pressure. We are doing well at those things, but we need to get even better to get stronger.”
The USA won gold in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League and Pan American Cup.
“I think this summer has been really exciting for our team with new and younger faces getting an opportunity to play at a high level,” said USA outside hitter Kelsey Robinson , who has had a strong season. “I think we have a lot of potential and room for growth. We have NORCECA to go back to and I think we can be a great team come 2020.
“We had the World Championship here last year and the World Cup this year and going into the Olympics [being here] is only going to help us with what to expect and to perform at the highest level.”
The World Cup roster included setters Lauren Carlini and Jordyn Poulter; liberos Justine Wong-Orantes and Megan Courtney; middles Tori Dixon, Chiaka Ogbogu, Hannah Tapp and Haleigh Washington; outsides Jordan Larson, Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Kelsey Robinson; and the opposites were Annie Drews and Karsta Lowe.