Happy Americans after beating Japan/Volleyball World photo

We have a lot to catch up on with our USA women’s and men’s Olympic teams after a few-days hiatus to move the VolleyballMag editorial offices from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Swampscott, Massachusetts. 

So … greetings from New England, where this area is all fired up over the possibility of another Boston Celtics NBA championship.

Since our last report on Friday, the USA women have lost to Italy — but get another crack at the Italians later this week — and beat Japan to finish seventh and claim a spot in the Volleyball Nations League finals in Bangkok, Thailand.

And the 12-team women’s Olympic field is set.

USA men back in action

First the USA men, who are in Manila, Philippines, for the third round of the men’s competition. They stand in 12th place at 3-5, the same record as Serbia and Germany, and a game back on Canada, Cuba and Argentina. Only the top eight teams advance to the finals.

The USA men open play on Wednesday against Iran. They’ve been off since losing to Canada on June 8.

Also in Manila on Tuesday there is Netherlands vs. Brazil and Canada vs. Japan. In Ljubljana, Slovenia, Bulgaria play Türkiye and Slovenia plays Argentina.

In subsequent matches, the USA men play Brazil, Germany and Japan, so clearly the opportunity to get into the top eight is there.

USA women advance

The USA women lost to Italy 25-17, 19-25, 25-15, 25-21 on Saturday but then secured their spot in the last round with a 25-15, 25-18, 26-24 victory over Japan.

Jordan Thompson passes against Japan/Volleyball World photo

Brazil was the only team to go unbeaten in the three rounds, finishing 12-0. Italy and Poland were 10-2, and China was fourth at 9-3.

Japan finished fifth at 8-4, just ahead of Türkiye, also 8-4. The USA was one of three teams at 7-5, followed by the Netherlands and Canada. 

The Dominican Republic, Serbia, Germany and Thailand all went 3-9, and France, Korea and Bulgaria finished 2-10.

Against Italy, the USA’s first VNL finals foe on Friday in Bangkok, the Americans couldn’t contain Paola Egonu, who had 21 kills, a block and an ace. 

Annie Drews, one of 10 Americans to see the court, led the USA with 13 kills, Jordan Thompson had 11 and a block, and Kelsey Cook had six kills and an ace. Haleigh Washington added three kills, three blocks and an ace. Chiaka Ogbogu had seven kills, Avery Skinner six, and Jordan Larson five and a block. Dana Rettke added two kills, a block and the team’s other ace.

Faced with a must-win against Japan, playing at home in Fukuoka and before a crowd estimated at 7,600, Drews came up big again. Drews, who played for JT Marvelous in Japan, had 13 kills with only one error in 28 attacks. 

Skinner had 11 kills and two blocks and other outside, Larson, had 10 kills, a block and an ace. 

Anna Hall, getting a start at middle, had nine kills and two blocks, and the other middle, Washington, had four kills and two blocks. Lauren Carlini set but Micha Hancock had two aces. Libero Justine Wong-Orantes had 20 digs.

Women’s Olympics field set

The USA women qualified for the Paris Olympics last year but five spots were still up for grabs heading into Volleyball Nations League.

The field is now set with Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, France, Italy, Japan, Kenya, the Netherlands, Poland, Serbia and Türkiye.

Read all about the field and how each got their respective bids here.

Anna Hall attacks against Japan/Volleyball World photo


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