USA off to a flyer in VNL opener with Belgium

A youthful United States line-up made quick work of Belgium in the opening game of the 2019 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League in Bulgaria with Annie Drews among the star performers.

The defending champions, led by Madi Kingdon Rishel and without star names Jordan Larson, Michelle Barstch-Hackley, Lauren Carlini, Karsta Lowe and Kim Hill due to the extended European season, were sternly tested in the opening set.

It reached 23-23 before the video challenge system ruled in the Americans’ favour and they closed it out 25-23 with a spike by Purdue University graduate Drews, who picked up seven kills in the opener and 18 points overall.

It was straight-forward in the second for Karch Kiraly’s side with just eight points conceded as they really built up a head of steam, at one stage reeling off 12 points in a row. Come the third though, Belgium dug deep and this sensational dig (below) by Ilka van der Vyver helped earn them an early point.

It ultimately wasn’t to be for Belgium, one of the competition’s challenger teams, who saw the third just slip away at the end 25-22, giving the States the perfect start to Pool 2 of the preliminary round.

Don’t miss the FIVB VNL 2019!

Watch all 260 games of the best men & womens international volleyball online - LIVE & on-demand!

Don’t miss the FIVB VNL 2019!

Watch all 260 games of the best men & womens international volleyball online - LIVE & on-demand!

Lewie’s view

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

“Coach Karch Kiraly will be very happy to get started with a victory, especially missing so many vital players. Although he will be focusing on the process of building a team for the future, like any coach he wants results right now! The USA has such a depth of players at college level that it’s great he has been able to give court time and experience to so many. It only bodes well for the future. Exposure is key for these young players to develop.”

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