‘Huge contributions’ won us the VNL, says coach Kiraly

USA head Karch Kiraly says the “huge contributions” from everybody involved helped his team fight back from 2-0 down to defeat “one of the great teams in the world” in five sets and win the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

Kiraly, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, honored each squad member who has been involved in the campaign, which culminated in Sunday’s dramatic victory over Brazil.

“I am most proud of how hard my players played since the very first match in Ruse, Bulgaria, down to the match tonight when we were down 2-0,” said Kiraly.

“It would be easy to give up hope but they did not. We didn’t play with the same players for each week. We had a whole group of 22 to 23 players and they all made great contributions. We are grateful and happy about all these contributions.”

At the beginning of the third set, with USA’s hopes of back-to-back titles slipping away, Kiraly brought on his experienced captain, Jordan Larson – which proved to be an excellent call.

Larson makes the difference

The Nebraskan native made the difference with her passing game providing a platform to build on, as well as adding eight kills, often in pivotal clutch moments.

“Jordan Larson came in and gave us a great lift, as did Tori Dixon. It was a total team win, 14-person plus here, all the other people in our program including the 14 battling in Peru [at the Pan American Games],” continued Kiraly.

“We have so much to be proud of. We got better as the match went along as we improved our blocking lineups and had a nice passing lineup in there with Lauren Carlini doing a really nice job of running our offense and distributing.”

Annie Drews, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, was also highlighted by the USA coach after top scoring in the final with 33 points.

“Wow, Annie! I don’t know how many points she had, but she was huge – everyone was huge.”