The USA served notice that it’s on the right path headed into the Olympic year by winning the Volleyball Nations League title Sunday, coming back from a two-set deficit Sunday in Nanjing, China, to beat Brazil 20-25, 22-25, 25-15, 25-21, 15-13.
And with the back-to-back VNL gold-medal victory came a $1 million top prize.
Once again, the leader was Purdue product Annie Drews. The 6-foot-4 opposite from Elkhart, Indiana, finished with a match-high 33 points on 32 kills in 59 attacks and also a block.
“I’m proud of us and how we made a lot of nice changes throughout the match and come up with a win,” Drews said. “Being down 0-2 is really constricting but also it’s now or never. If you’re not swinging and you’re not going out after it like a house on fire, then what have do you have to lose at that point. We all kind of just buckled up and kind of made big swings and it paid off.”
Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson had 13 kills and two aces and Haleigh Washington had eight kills and two blocks. Jordan Larson added eight kills and Jordan Thompson had five.
The Americans, who beat Brazil last week in pool play, got four blocks from setter Lauren Carlini.
According to USA Volleyball:
The comeback concluded in high drama in the fifth set with an unusual ending. Although Brazil earned the first two-point cushion of the tiebreaking fifth set at 3-1, Team USA bounced back to take its first lead of the set at 5-4 with two Robinson kills after a Brazil service error. The Americans extended the advantage to three at 8-5 with a Drews kill, Robinson ace and Larson kill. Brazil closed to one at 10-9. Team USA went up 13-10 with kills from Drews and Haleigh Washington. Brazil saved two match points at 14-13. In a bold move, Kiraly called for a video challenge for net touch during the middle of match point and Team USA won the points as the video clearly showed Brazil touching the net antenna. Otherwise, Brazil would have won the point and tied the set if the video challenge was unsuccessful.
Gabriela Braga Guimaraes and Lorenne Geraldo Teixeira led Brazil with 16 kills each. Guimaraes had two blocks and two aces, and Texeira had three blocks and an ace.
In the match for third place, China beat Turkey 25-23, 25-15, 20-25, 25-21.