Not being perfect took the pressure off USA, says Ogbogu

Chiaka Ogbogu said that learning not to strive for perfection helped USA bounce back from their poor run of results at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League with a 3-1 victory over Poland in Jiangmen.

The Chinese leg of the competition started poorly for USA when they were beaten 3-0 by VNL leaders Turkey having lost their previous match 3-1 to Brazil and they started slowly against Poland, losing the opening set 25-21.

But the return of Andrea Drews to Karch Kiraly’s starting line-up added poise and precision in attack, and she landed 20 kills on 41 swings to contribute 21 points as the USA took the final three sets 25-23, 25-15, 25-11.

Coming together

Ogbogu, who made 16 points from nine kills on 14 swings, reflected on their pre-match preparations, telling “I think the best thing we did to reset was to just come together and figure out that we didn’t need to be perfect.

“I think you saw in this match that we did a lot of good, and sometimes where it wasn’t so good.

“But just knowing that we can be USA good and our good was good enough helped to relieve some pressures so that some of us could play really free.”

Kiraly started the match with perhaps his strongest team and made no substitutions, deploying Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Kelsey Robinson as his outside hitters, Drews at opposite, Lauren Carlini at setter and Mary Lake at libero.

Ogbogu, who played at middle alongside Tori Dixon, said that her experience of playing for Polish club KPS Chemik Police over the last 12 months gave the game an additional edge for her.

“I know a lot of the players on the Polish side,” she said.

“I played in the Polish League this season. It is fun to play against people I know.”

Expecting a battle

The result left USA with eight wins and three defeats from their 11 VNL matches so far, and they ended the game fourth in the round-robin standings.

Ogbogu looked ahead to Thursday’s game against China, who had an 8-2 record after 10 games played, in the knowledge that the hosts would be backed by a partisan crowd.

“I know tomorrow will be crazy loud and really exciting,” said Ogbogu.

“The biggest thing is just taking it all in and being grateful to be in a place like this, playing in front of their home crowd.

“I am excited for a battle, and also some scrappy defence because I know it will be good on both sides.”