Two matches played, two come-from-behind victories for the USA women at the Volleyball Nations League in Antalya, Türkiye.
Two days after winning the last two sets against Serbia to open the tournament, the USA beat Italy on Friday 25-16, 14-25, 22-25, 25-20, 15-9.
A couple of VNL first-timer outsides led on offense. Former USC great Khalia Lanier, who had a big match against Serbia, did it again, this time with 13 kills, two blocks and an ace. One of BYU’s best, Roni Jones-Perry, made her VNL debut and had 14 kills, 11 digs and a block.
Dana Rettke, the Wisconsin great who played VNL last summer, had 11 kills, two blocks and an ace. And the veteran of the team, Purdue great and left-handed opposite Annie Drews, had 12 kills and 10 digs. The USA also got a spark from another VNL newbie, middle Asjia O’Neal, who still has a year at Texas. She had seven kills, three blocks and an ace.
Morgan Hentz, the three-time NCAA champion for Stanford, had 17 digs. Olympic setter Micha Hancock, the lefty from Penn State who plays professionally in Italy against many of Friday’s opponents, had 11 digs, an ace and a block.
Italy got 49 of its 60 kills from three players as Sylvia Nwakalor had 17 kills, 16 digs and three aces, Loveth Omuri had 16 kills and an ace, and Myriam Sylla had 16 kills. Sara Panetoni had 19 digs.
The USA turns around and plays Korea on Saturday and host Türkiye to wrap up the first leg of the tournament. The women head home to Anaheim and are off until June 13, when they play Croatia in Brasilia, Brazil.
The USA men open VNL play June 7 in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, when they play they Netherlands.
CHINA 3, GERMANY 0: China got 14 kills from Li Yinying its 25-19, 25-20, 25-victory. Xinyue Yuan had seven kills and four blocks, and Yuanyuan Wang had 11 kills. Hanna Orthmann continued to lead Germany, this time with 15 kills, two blocks and two aces of her team’s five aces. China had no aces.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 3, NETHERLANDS 2: The DR, led again by its one-two punch of Brayelin Martinez and Gaila Gonzalez, won 25-18, 22-25, 25-18, 21-15, 15-11. Martinez had 22 kills and three blocks and Gonzalez had 17 kills and three blocks. Elles Dambrink had 22 kills and two blocks for the winless Netherlands.
JAPAN 3, CROATIA 0: Sarina Nashida led a balance attack with 13 kills, two blocks and three aces as Japan won 25-17, 25-19, 25-20. Kotona Hayashi had 11 kills and a block and Arisa Inoue had nine kills. Winless Croatia’s Dijana Karatovic had nine kills.
POLAND 3, THAILAND 0: Thailand, which opened with two victories, got overwhelmed by 3-0 Poland 25-20, 25-16, 25-15. Poland held a 10-5 blocks advantage and had six aces while Thailand had none. Magdalena Stysiak had nine kills for Poland and Martyna Lukasik and Magdelena Jurczyk had seven each.
CANADA 3, KOREA 0: Former Pitt standout Layne Van Buskirk had 13 kills and five block as Canada rolled to a 25-17, 25-16, 25-18 victory. Alexa Gray, who played at BYU had nine kills, a block, nine digs and an ace and Hilary Howe had six kills, two blocks and an ace. Korea’s Ki Miyoun had eight kills and Jeongah Park seven.
Through Friday, Poland has three victories, while the USA, Türkiye, Japan, Germany, China and the Dominican Republic have two each.