Italy bolted to an 8-3 lead in the first set and never allowed the U.S. back into the hunt with a 25-17 victory. The second set looked much the same as Italy grabbed a 9-3 lead, but Team USA came back to win 28-26 sparked by the emergence of Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) off the bench to score five points. The U.S. came back from an 8-4 deficit in the third set to tie the set at 10-all, but Italy used nine American errors in the set and a 7-2 run to close out the frame for a 25-19 victory. Italy rallied from a 17-14 deficit in the fourth set by scoring 11 of the final 13 points for a 25-19 victory.
“I think Italy played a great game, especially in defense and blocking,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach ‘Jenny’ Lang Ping. “I think we have so many unforced errors and that is a big area we need to improve, but also we are happy to give this opportunity to young players. I think the young players played well, especially No. 19 Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.). I think she has a lot of potential. We need to be patient and keep her working. She is still a student, with one year to graduate from Stanford. She is a very smart student and has not had enough training with the national team.”
In other World Grand Prix matches played later today, Brazil (4-0) defeated Cuba (3-1) 25-14, 25-15, 25-20 in the battle of undefeated teams. Japan (1-2) hosts China (0-3) at 6 p.m. Japan Time. Brazil is in first place all by itself, followed by second-place Cuba. Italy (2-2) moves into third place. Japan (1-2) can move into a tie for third and ahead of the USA (1-3) with a victory tonight, while China (0-3) is currently in last place.
The World Grand Prix Final Round is a round-robin format with each team playing five matches in five days. Team concludes the Final Round on July 13 against Olympic Games host China at 11:30 a.m. (8:30 p.m. MT on July 12). Team USA dropped its Final Round opener on July 9 to Brazil 25-19, 25-19, 25-23, followed by a 26-28, 25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 15-11 victory over Japan on July 10. The U.S. led Cuba 2-0 in sets on July 11 before losing in five sets 22-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-21, 15-11.