The USA’s Morgan Hentz, right, and Danielle Cuttino converge 6-3-23 Volleyball World photo

The USA women improved to 3-0 with a 25-16, 27-25, 25-11 sweep of Korea on Saturday in Volleyball Nations League play in Antayla, Türkiye.

The USA concludes first-week play on Sunday when it faces the home team. Türkiye is also 3-0 after sweeping Italy later Saturday.

Against Korea, VNL newcomers again led the Americans. Former Purdue standout Danielle Cuttino had 11 kills, five blocks and two aces. Avery Skinner, who played at Kentucky and Baylor, had 12 kills, a block, four digs and an ace, and former BYU standout Roni Jones-Perry had six kills, 10 digs and two blocks. Ashley Evans, another Purdue product, got her first VNL action and had a kill, six digs, two blocks and two aces. Libero Morgan Hentz had 10 digs.

The USA’s Avery Skinner goes over the Korea block/Volleyball World photo

The USA ralled from being down seven points in the second set, still trailing 23-21 before rallying again. The Americans had a 5-1 blocks advantage in the second set.

“That’s not the way to get set victories here,” USA coach Karch Kiraly said with a smile as he talked to’s Emily Ehman, the reporter, after the second set. “We were sloppy and they were surprising us on things we knew would happen in the scouting report. Luckily we cleaned it up at the end, but we can’t wait that long. That’s too good of a team.”

Said his counterpart, Cesar Hernandez Gonzalez, in English in that same intermission: “Volleyball is like this. You have to fight to the end.”

Gonzalez speaks English and uses a translator to talk to his own team. 

The third set was obviously easier for the USA, which for the match had just one more kill than Korea (37-36) but had a 5-0 advantage in aces and had 15 blocks compared to Korea’s three.

“This team and the group of girls we have here is incredible,” Cuttino told Ehman after the match. The encouragement and the confidence they instill in me, it helps me play at a higher level.”

Cuttino and Evans were Boilermakers together. Annie Drews, the Olympian who got to rest Saturday, also played at Purdue.

“Same with Annie, too, it just helps to have familiarity with someone from back home,” said Cuttino, who played this past season for Queenseis in Japan. She previously played pro in Italy for Casalmaggiore and in Brazil for Minas.

Not only did Drews get to sit, so did the other two members of the 14-player roster who won Olympic gold in Toyko, setter Micha Hancock and libero Justine Wong-Orantes.

Last-place Korea, which dropped to 0-3, got nine kills and two blocks from Seungju Pyo.

Sunday’s slate also shows Croatia vs. Brazil, German vs. Bulgaria, Japan vs. China, Thailand vs. Korea and Canada vs. Serbia.

After Sunday, the women are off until June 13 until half the field, including the USA, goes to Brasilia, Brazil, while the others head to Hong Kong.

The men begin play Tuesday and the USA is in action Wednesday in Ottawa, Canada, when the Americans play the Netherlands.

BRAZIL 3, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 1: Brazil won 27-25, 20-25, 25-21, 27-25 as five players had nine or more kills, 15 by Ana Cristina de Souza, who also had a block. Julia Bergmann, the former Georgia Tech star, had 11 kills and two blocks as Brazil improved to 2-1. Th DR, which dropped to 2-2, got 18 kills, three blocks and an ace from Gaila Gonzales. Brayelin Martinez had 12 kills and three blocks.

CHINA 3, NETHERLANDS 1: Li Yingying had 20 kills, three blocks, five digs and four aces and China is 3-0 after its 27-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-20 win. Yuanyuan Wang ha 11 kills, four blocks and an ace, and Yunle Wang had 13 kills and a block. Xiangyu Gong had 14 digs and Linyu Diao had 13. The Dutch, who dropped to 1-3, got 17 kills, 12 digs and four aces from Nova Marring and 14 kills from Jolien Knollema, who had two blocks, nine digs and an ace.

JAPAN 3, BULGARIA 0: Japan improved to 3-0 with its 25-20, 25-17, 25-19 victory as Bulgaria dropped to 0-3. Airsa Inoue had 13 kills, Sarina Nishida 11 and Kotona Hayashi 10.

POLAND 3, SERBIA 0: Poland finished its first round 4-0 after a 25-18, 25-22, 30-28 sweep of Serbia (0-3). Magdalena Stysiak led with 17 kills and three blocks. Agnieszka Korneluk added six kills and seven blocks, and Martyna Lukasik had 10 kills, seven digs and an ace. Serbia’s Aleksandra Uzelac and Ana Bjelica had nine kills each.

TÜRKIYE 3, ITALY 0: Türkiye won 25-19, 26-24, 25-19 to drop Italy to 1-3. Melissa Vargas continued to lead the home team, this time with 20 kills and two blocks. Kubra Akman had three kills and five blocks and Zehra Gunes had four kills and four blocks. Italy’s Sylvia Nwakalor had 15 kills and two blocks and Alice Degradi had 11 kills and two blocks.

Brazil’s Ana Cristina attacks against the Dominican Republic/Volleyball World photo

Check out VNL match times and TV listingsAll VNL matches can be watched on VolleyballWorld.TV.  Use the promo code VOLLEYBALLMAG for a discount on monthly or annual subscriptions. 


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