USA banks on balanced attack to beat China and march to FIVB World Grand Prix semis
The Americans towered over the Chinese squad to power its way to the semifinals.

BANGKOK – Defending champion USA grinded out a win over a tough China team, 25-21, 26-24, 25-22, to march into the semifinals of the FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Grand Prix at Huamark Indoor Stadium on Friday.

The Americans got through to the next round thanks to its balanced attack, led by Karsta Lowe who had 12 points, while skipper Christa Harmotto Deitzen, Rachel Adams, Michelle Bartsch each chipped in 10 markers.

USA bested Netherlands in a five-set thriller in their opener to improve its record 2-0 in Group B.

“I think we’re just playing well as a team and doing the basics really well like passing, setting and hitting our offense because that’s what we work on everyday. So it’s nice to see that we’re able to utilize it in our matches,” said USA libero Natalie Hagglund.

USA coach Karch Kiraly said that utilizing both of his liberos Hagglund and Kayla Banwarth was a good idea. Yet he stressed that they need to work on their game some more coming into the semifinals.

The Americans will face the winner of the match between Thailand and Russia in the crossover semifinals.

“Our goal is to learn from every situation we play in and every situation is different. And we’re also looking to grow and improve each day,” said Kiraly. “We did a pretty nice job of attacking the correct areas from the service line but we can always get better at that, though we did a pretty nice job at blocking.”

“And we learned some things, we played with the different liberos, tonight we played two liberos, so we had some learning to do there so we’ll definitely look to improve for tomorrow whoever we play in the semifinals,” he added.

Chunlei Zeng finished with 14 points for China, while Yanhan Liu added 12 and Xiaotong Liu contributed 10. The Chinese, who were winless in the group stage (0-2), will play the loser between Thailand and Russia for the classification.

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Meanwhile, Netherlands, who also defeated China on Thursday, will advance to the semis and will face Brazil.

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