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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 19, 2007) –Both teams were looking for a victory to advance to the World Grand Prix Finals Aug. 22-26 in Ningbo, China. The winner would secure a spot in the six-team field, while the loser would most likely be out of the tournament unless several other situations occurred.
The U.S. committed 11 errors in the first set as Netherlands worked an early 9-4 lead into a 25-18 victory. Netherlands built a 4-0 lead early in the second set, only to see the U.S. catch up at 5-all. Nonetheless, Netherlands captured a close 25-23 victory that stayed close the rest of the way. On the brink of elimination from the tournament, the U.S. bolted to a 10-2 advantage in the third set and won by 14, 25-11. Team USA enjoyed a 13-10 lead in the fourth set, but Netherlands came back to take a 14-13 advantage. With the U.S. leading 16-15 at the technical timeout, Netherlands rattled off a 5-1 scoring spurt en route to closing the match at 25-20.
The U.S., playing arguably the toughest World Grand Prix schedule of the 12-team field, finished the World Grand Prix preliminary round with a 5-4 record. The Americans tallied two victories over Cuba, a win over the world’s top-ranked team in Russia, a victory against Poland and a win against Kazakhstan. The U.S. lost twice to defending Olympic champion China and Russia, along with Sunday’s loss to Netherlands. All three teams to defeat the U.S. at the World Grand Prix have advanced to the Finals round.
“We couldn't find our rhythm in the first two sets, then we were better in the third and the first part of the fourth sets,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach ‘Jenny’ Lang Ping said. “We made too many errors at the end of the match to pull out the win. It was very valuable experience for our younger players and we will take some positives from these tough matches and work to get better.”
Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) tallied a team-high 19 points all on kills, while Katie Wilkins (Lakeside, Calif.) chipped in 17 points with 10 kills, five blocks and two aces. Both Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) and Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.) reached 10 points on eight kills, one block and one ace. Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) added seven points on six kills and a block. Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu) tallied 56 assists to go with one kill and five digs. Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) tallied six digs and 16 excellent service receptions on 27 attempts, all team highs.
“This was a disappointing loss for us, but the positive thing is that this is the most consistent we have been at this high level of play,” Davis said. “We did a lot of good things. We just need to correct our mistakes in the future.”
Netherlands benefited from 30 Team USA errors, 12 of which were on service errors, to offset a 52-43 differential in kills and 4-3 margin in aces. Netherlands, which had just six service errors in the four-set victory, held a 10-8 lead in blocks. The U.S. tallied a 25-14 advantage in digs.
Lang Ping started Ah Mow-Santos at setter, Scott-Arruda and Bown at middle blocker, Glass and Wilkins at outside hitter, and Haneef-Park at opposite. Davis is the designated libero for the Group I portion of the World Grand Prix schedule. Candace Lee (Eugene, Ore.) was subbed into the match in all the sets.
Manon Flier sparked Netherlands with 20 pointsvia 16 kills, two aces and two blocks. Ingrid Visser contributed eight kills and two blocks in the victory. Cha Saelens provided the Dutch seven kills, one block and one ace for nine points.
“It was a crucial match for both teams, because the winner will be qualified to play for the Final in Ningbo,” Netherlands Head Coach Avital Selinger said. “I think our team started well, and we had a tough match last evening. I knew it would a match where we’ll have some trouble. We did well in the first two sets. Only after the second set, we encountered some problems, and the USA took advantage of it. In the fourth set, we regained our rhythm. It is a tremendous match and we won the match. We are happy.”
The Netherlands opened an early 3-1 lead in the first set, then increased the margin to three at 6-3. Netherlands scored three unanswered points to assume a 9-4 lead. Wilkins scored two blocks as part of a 3-1 run to close to within four at 14-10. Haneef-Park canned a kill, then Wilkins followed with an ace to cut the deficit to three at 15-12. Netherlands increased its advantage to six points at 20-14 on a 3-0 scoring run. Team USA answered with a Bown block and point off a Netherlands error to close to within four at 20-16. Netherlands responded with four consecutive points to net an eight-point cushion at 24-16. The U.S. saved two set points on kills from Haneef-Park and Wilkins to put the score at 24-18, but could not get any closer. Wilkins posted six points in the opening set.
Netherlands built an early 4-0 lead to start the second set. Wilkins turned in a kill and Bown followed with an ace to move the U.S. to within two at 5-3. Back-to-back Haneef-Park kills tied the set at 5-all. Netherlands regained a two-point edge at 9-7, but Scott-Arruda collected a kill and Netherlands followed with an error to knot the score at 9-all. Netherlands responded quickly with consecutive points to rebuild its two-point edge at 11-9. A Glass kill and Netherlands error tied the score at 12-all, and Team USA netted its first lead of the set and match at 13-12 on a Netherlands error. The lead was short-lived as Netherlands returned to the leader spot at 15-14. Netherlands took a two-point lead at 19-17, but Team USA comes back to tie the score at 20-all forcing a Netherlands timeout. The U.S. took a 22-21 lead, but the Netherlands scored the final three points of the set after trailing 23-22. Haneef-Park tallied six points in the period to lead the Americans.
Bown collected a kill to start the third set and Glass scored an ace to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead. Haneef-Park and Bown added a kills at 4-0. Wilkins put up a block for the fifth U.S. point to start the third set. Netherlands scored two straight points once it got on the scoreboard to close to within three at 5-2. Wilkins contributed a kill and block to send Team USA to a 7-2 advantage, then Haneef-Park downed a kill to put the U.S. in front 8-2 at the technical timeout. The U.S. scored its fourth and fifth straight points out of the break on two Netherlands errors for a 10-2 lead. Netherlands answered with back-to-back points to close to six, 10-4. A kill and ace from Wilkins around a Haneef-Park kill placed the U.S. in front 14-5. Team USA established a 10-point advantage at 18-8 after a Haneef-Park kill and Netherlands error. Bown scored a third straight U.S. point on a kill, and Wilkins followed with a block at 20-8. Team USA reached set point 24-11 on kills from Scott-Arruda and Wilkins, followed by a Netherlands error. The U.S. closed out the set 25-11 on the first chance on a setter kill from Ah Mow-Santos. Wilkins scored seven points in the third set, including three blocks and an ace.
The U.S. picked up a two-point lead early in the fourth set after a Bown kill and Netherlands error at 4-2. A Glass kill followed a Netherlands error to put Team USA in front 6-3. Netherlands tied the set at 9-all on three unanswered points. Haneef-Park responded with two kills to put the U.S. back in the lead at 11-9. Team USA built a three-point cushion at 13-10 on a Wilkins kill and Netherlands error. Netherlands came back with four consecutive points to take the lead at 14-13. The U.S. went into the second technical timeout leading 16-15 after kills from Wilkins and Glass. Netherlands answered with three points out of the break for an 18-16 lead. Netherlands established a five-point lead at match point 24-19 via three unanswered points. After the U.S. saved on match point, Netherlands ended the match at 25-20.
Team Journal by Fred Wendelboe