Drews hits 23 as USA get off to ideal start in VNL finals with win over Poland

Team USA got off to a perfect start in the final round of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League as they defeated Poland 3-1 with Andrea Drews impressing once more with 23 points.

Aiming to defend their title from last year, Karch Kiraly’s side got off to a slow start in Nangjing, China – just like they did in their round-robin encounter against the Poles – as they they fell 25-21 in the opening set.

However, the Americans soon found their rhythm in the second and third set, with Purdue University alumnus Drews and former Husker Kelsey Robinson finding clear space on the court with ease to comfortably win the sets 25-16 and 25-15, respectively.

The fourth set begun in similar fashion to the previous two as Haleigh Washington starred at the nets – registering seven blocks in total – to ensure a healthy 10-3 lead but Poland showed tremendous spirit to fight back to earn a set point at 24-23.

But it was not to be as an ace and a super spike out wide from Robinson sealed victory for USA on the opening day of finals week at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Center.

Up next for the Stars and Stripes is Brazil on Thursday (July 4), as they look to avenge their round-robin defeat to the Green and Yellows from week three.

Lewie’s view

Coach, commentator and Freeball podcast host Lewie Lett gives us his match analysis:

The start did not go quite to plan but they will certainly take the win. The USA are used to the big occasion and their culture is a lot more prestigious than Poland’s, too. You could see this in sets two and three, as they were pretty much flawless. As a result, it will be all smiles for coach Kiraly as this exciting USA side continue to build with the mix of youth and experience.

Poland have performed well to be here and it’s a sign that the women’s sport is growing after the men have dominated Polish Volleyball for a long time. The opposite Malwina Smarzek and outside hitter Magdalena Stysiak will be the catalyst for the team for a long time to come but they need to grow into their shells first.