After a week in Bossier City, Louisiana, it was Japan that came out with the best record after the first round of the Volleyball Nations League.
That’s because Japan put a punctuation point on its time in Brookshire Grocery Arena with a 25-22, 25-20, 25-20 sweep of the USA on Sunday afternoon.
Japan finished the week 4-0, while the USA, Brazil and Poland each went 3-1.
Now they take a break as the men’s side of the VNL gets underway. The USA men are in Brazil and play Slovenia on Tuesday. We’ll have more on the men later Monday.
The USA women head back to Anaheim and then move on to Quezon City in the Philippines where they play Bulgaria on June 15. Subsequent matches are against Poland, China and Thailand. There are 25 players on the USA/VNL roster and 14 came to Bossier City. There will likely be changes as the team moves on to the next leg.
As USA Volleyball noted, Japan led in kills (47-46), blocks (6-5) and aces (4-0) and scored 18 points on American errors.
“Japan played a really nice match and gave us a lot of trouble with their short serves,” USA coach Karch Kiraly told USA Volleyball.
“They put us in really uncomfortable positions, and it took us far too long to adjust. In the meantime, they had a nice passing crew out who controlled our serves. So we didn’t cause nearly the amount of trouble that we like to. They were able to run much more of their offense than we were able to run and implement our offense.”
Annie Drews, who plays professionally in Japan, led the USA with 11 kills and 11 digs. Anna Stevenson had 10 kills, three blocks and six digs. Kara Bajema had 10 kills and five digsd, Madi Kingdon Rishel had seven kills and seven digs, and Sarah Wilhite had six kills and four digs.
Lauren Carlini had 16 digs, 24 assists and a kill. Her team hit .250. Morgan Hentz had 15 digs.
Japan, which earlier beat Korea, Germany the Dominican Republic, got 17 kills each from Sarina Koga and Arisa Inoue. Manami Kojima and Inoue had 16 digs each, Kotona Hayashi had 14, and Koga and Nanami Seki had 10. Seki also had 19 assists.
“I thought they played great,” Drews said of Japan. “They looked like they play together a lot and had a lot of clarity on what they were going to do against us.”
Also in Bossier City on Sunday, Poland beat Germany in fvie and Canada swept Korea.
In matches in Ankara, Turkey, Thaliand upset China in five, Serbia beat the Netherlands in five, and Turkey beat Belgium in four.
Turkey, Serbia and Thailand all went 3-1.