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USA win tough battle with Russia to stay undefeated

 
Omaha, USA, July 24, 2015 – In a battle of the remaining undefeated teams, United States held firm with a 26-24, 19-25, 25-16, 25-22 victory over Russia on Friday evening to stay undefeated in the FIVB World Grand Prix Finals being held in Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

Karsta Lowe paced the USA with 22 points and Kimberly Hill added 15 points. Nataliya Goncharova sparked Russia with 29 points, followed by 11 points from Ekaterina Lyubushkina’s and Alexandra Pasynkova. Russia out-blocked the USA 9-7, while the American held a 8-5 service ace margin.

USA will challenge two-time defending champion Brazil (2-1) on Saturday at 17:10, while Russia will take on China (1-2) at 20:10.

The Americans extended their first-set advantage to 18-14 with kills from Foluke Akinradewo and Lowe. Goncharova scored three consecutive kills to square the set at 20-all, then Russia went ahead 21-20 on a USA attack error. However, Murphy and Hill answered with kills and Dixon slapped an overpass for a point to yield an American 23-21 advantage. Hill scored a block for a fourth straight American point to give USA set point 24-21. Russia saved all three set points as Ekaterina Orlova put up a block to level the set at 24-all. Hill and Lowe slammed back-to-back points to give the USA set one 26-24.

Russia picked up an early 4-1 lead in the second set after a Goncharova kill, then increased the advantage to 7-3. Goncharova blocked Hill at 10-5 prompting USA to call timeout. Russia continued the momentum as Ekaterina Lyubushkina and Yana Shcherban connected on kills to place the gap a 15-7 lead. USA cut the deficit to 15-10 with a Larson-Burbach kill and Russia rotation error. Alexandra Pasynkova took advantage of an errant pass with a kill to push Russia back to a seven-point cushion at 17-10. Team USA used a 4-1 run to slice the deficit to 18-14. Murphy hit a cross-court winner and Russia hit wide to put USA within three at 19-16, but Russia stopped the momentum and went on to win 25-19.

USA gained a 5-1 lead in the third set with three kills from Lowe in the run. Lyubushkina served an ace and Goncharova smashed a kill to narrow Russia’s deficit to 7-6. Shcherban scored on a busted play to level the score at 9-all. Lowe highlighted a 6-0 run with three kills to go with a Kreklow ace to put USA up 15-9. Akinradewo and Hill hit back-to-back attacks for a seven-point lead at 21-14. Team USA cruised into the 25-16 victory.

Hill put USA up 4-1 with a kill and two aces along with a Lowe kill early in the fourth set. Lyubushkina served an ace and Pasynkova hit a winner to square the set at 6-all, then went ahead 7-6 on an American attack error. Russia upped their lead to 9-7 on another USA error, but the two-point cushion was short-lived with an Akinradewo kill and Russia error at 9-all. The USA went in front 12-10 on kills from Lowe and Dixon around a Russia attack error. Russia took the lead back at 14-12 with a 4-0 run as Goncharova put up a block and kill to cap the run. After trailing 20-17, Murphy slammed a kill and Kreklow served an ace to pull USA to within 20-19. USA squared the set at 22-all on a Dixon kill and Russia attack error, then Lowe crushed a kill off the block to give Americans a 23-22 lead. Larson-Burbach blocked a Russia attack to put the USA at match point 24-22, which was promptly won by Dixon on ace to cap a 4-0 run by the Americans.

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