Victory over China was our best match of the VNL, says Kiraly 

Team USA’s superb straight-sets victory over Olympic champions China in their backyard was “by far our best and cleanest match of the tournament”, according to head coach Karch Kiraly.

Despite beginning the week with defeat to Turkey, Kiraly’s side bounced back to seal wins over Poland and China to put them in a strong position to reach the final round next month.

“Our team put together a really nice effort,” said the three-time Olympic gold medallist. “Our coaches put together a great scouting plan and our players executed it.

“It was by far our best and cleanest match of the tournament, even though we have had lots of good things happen in this tournament and some disappointing things also. This is a nice way to end the China leg of Volleyball Nations League.”

Former Cougar libero Mary Lake was singled out by Kiraly in his post-match comments, telling she can be “proud” of her contributions in China.

“Mary Lake filled in for Megan Courtney really well this week,” Kiraly said. “Mary has a lot to be proud of as Megan is working through some health issues.”

Kiraly also highlighted the superb grunt work by setter Lauren Carlini, providing her team-mates with a 56-kill percentage, which was capitalised on by Kelsey Robinson, Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Andrea Drews. 

“Carlini really pushed the speed of our offense,” Kiraly said. “We got all three of our pin hitters, Kelsey, Bartschy and Annie – got them some great daylight. 

“The middles – Chiaka [Ogbogu] and Haleigh [Washington] – also did a really nice job of executing the game plan right down to the last point of the game where we really concentrated our blocking attention on one of the world’s best players, Zhu Ting, and ended the match with a stuff block on her,” Kiraly said.