Spectacular Hancock leads USA to another dramatic victory

ANTALYA, Türkiye, June 2, 2023.- Led by their talented setter Micha Hancock the Olympic champions the United States topped Italy in the tie-breaker to remain undefeated surviving  their second big test in three days on Friday and continue on a roll in the opening week of the Volleyball Nations League 2023 in Antalya, Türkiye.

Two days after making their debut in this year’s edition of the tournament with a dramatic five-set victory over reigning world champions Serbia, the Americans played another tie-breaker in order to overcome defending VNL champions Italy 3-2 (25-16, 14-25, 22-25, 25-20, 15-9) in Pool 1 at the Antalya Sports Hall.

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Setter and team captain Micha Hancock ran the American offense brilliantly, having all her five starting hitters leave the court with more than ten points. The 30-year-old, left-handed setter also scored a couple of points herself, with a kill and a block.

“It was an all-team effort,” she said. “Everyone was ready to come off the bench. Italy is a great team and a lot of us play club there, so they know us well. It’s always interesting when we play them, so I knew that getting everyone involved would make the match harder for them. My job is pretty easy. All these girls have very long arms, so all I have to do is get the ball up for them. We have a relentless attitude when we’re all together and it’s just fun to see a bunch of young girls doing so well.”

Getting on the end of Hancock’s sets, outside hitters Khalia Lanier (16 points) and Veronica Perry-Jones (15), middle blockers Dana Rettke (14) and Asjia O’Neal (11) and opposite Annie Drews (12) all reached double digits in scoring.

Despite the defeat, Italy had three top scorers in the match in opposite Sylvia Nwakalor, who scored 20 points (17 kills, three blocks), and outside hitters Loveth Omoruyi and Myriam Sylla, who produced 17 and 16, respectively.

The number of errors produced by the Italians proved to be the major difference in the match as the Europeans handed 31 points to the Americans, who generated 22 for their opponents. There was great balance in kills, with Italy leading 60-58, blocks, with nine for each side, and aces, with the Europeans having a 4-3 advantage.

Volleyball Nations League 2023: full schedule and results

On Saturday the United States will face Korea at 17:00 local time (14:00 UTC).

Canada first victory in VNL 2023

ANTALYA, Türkiye, June 2, 2023.- Canada celebrated their first victory in the VNL 2023 with a sweep (25-17, 25-16, 25-18) of Korea in Antalya, Türkiye.

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Volleyball Nations League 2023: full schedule and results

Andrea Mitrovic (11) of Canada spikes

Middle blocker Layne Van Buskirk and outside hitter Alexa Gray led the North American’s victory with 18 and 11 points, respectively – outside hitter Kim Miyoun produced ten points for Korea.

Canada led in attacks (42-35), blocks (11-3) and aces (3-1).

Canada will get back on the court on Sunday against Serbia at 17:00 local time (14:00 UTC).

Dominican Republic wins another thrilling five-setter

NAGOYA, Japan, June 2, 2023.- Dominican Republic produced a 3-2 (25-18, 22-25, 25-18, 21-25, 15-11) victory over the Netherlands, their second at the 2023 Women’s Volleyball Nations League , after edging Bulgaria on Thursday.

Watch Volleyball Nations League 2023 live on VBTV

Volleyball Nations League 2023: full schedule and results

Dominicans left the Dutch still winless in three matches of the competition.

Brayelin Martinez top scorer

Brayelin Martinez was once again the top scorer of the match, contributing 25 points, including three blocks, to the victory, while opposite Gaila Gonzalez added another 22, including three blocks and two aces.

Dominican Republic led 13-9 in blocks and the Netherlands with a slight 62-61 in kills. Both teams scored on six aces.

Dominican Republic will finish their Nagoya campaign on June 3 against Brazil.

Canada fell to Thailand in straight sets

ANTALYA, Türkiye, June 1, 2023.- Canada lost to Thailand in straight sets 3-0 (25-17, 26-24, 25-21)in their second match of the 2023 Women’s Volleyball Nations League in Antalya, Türkiye.

Thailand prevailed on 45-34 advantage in kills and produced 6 aces against one from Canada who controlled in blocks with 11-6 margin.

Middle blocker Layne Van Buskirk and outside hitter Alexa Gray, both with ten points, were Canada’s leading scorers. Layne’s 10 points came from 6 kills and 4 blocks, while Alexa scored 8 kills, one block and one ace. Emily Maglio added another 9 points (5 kills, 4 blocks).

Team captain Alexa Gray (CAN)

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Volleyball Nations League 2023: full schedule and results

This was Canada’s second loss of the event. They will get back on action on Friday June 2 against Korea.  

Dominicans managed to come back twice in stunning five-set win over Bulgaria

NAGOYA, Japan, June 1, 2023.- The Dominican Republic earned their first 2023 Volleyball Nations League managing to come back twice stunning-five sets 3-2 (22-25, 25-16, 16-25, 25-14, 15-11) over Bulgaria.

Dominicans recovered from falling in the first and third sets with Brayelin Martinez as the best scorer of the game with 25 points to her name, including two kill blocks. Opposite Gaila Gonzalez added another 19 points towards the victory, while Elena Becheva was Bulgaria’s most prolific player with 17 points.

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Volleyball Nations League 2023: full schedule and results

Niverka Marte (7) sets the ball

Dominican Republic held advantages in attacks (78-52) and in blocks (10-5), Bulgaria did better in points from serves (8-4).

Dominican Republic’s third match in Pool 1 is on Friday June 2 against the Netherlands.

Drews and rookies push USA to big win over Serbia

ANTALYA, Türkiye, May 31, 2023.- The Olympic champion opposite had help from newcomers Skinner and Lanier as the Americans defeated the world champions in Antalya, Türkiye.

Helped by a pair of talented new faces, Annie Drews shone the brightest in the duel between the reigning Olympic champions and the defending world champions on the second day of the Volleyball Nations League 2023 and led the United States to a big win over Serbia in Antalya, Türkiye, on Wednesday.

The Pool 1 encounter held at the Antalya Sports Hall ended with a five-set (25-20, 19-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-12) victory for the Americans, who started their push to return to the top of the podium in the VNL with a strong result – they won gold in 2018, 2019 and 2021 before finishing fifth in 2022.

Watch Volleyball Nations League 2023 live on VBTV

One of three Olympic champions selected by head coach Karch Kiraly to lead a young roster in the opening week of the VNL in Antalya, Drews embraced the responsibility and tallied a match-high 25 points in the American win – the 29-year-old opposite had 22 kills, two aces and one block in the duel with the Serbians.

The Americans had several other individual standouts in their big victory over Serbia and among them were 24-year-old rookie outside hitters Avery Skinner and Khalia Lanier, who delivered 19 and 16 points respectively in their first VNL match.

“I think that for us it was just about focusing on our side,” Skinner commented. “We couldn’t control what Serbia was doing and they were playing an amazing match. We just realized what we could do and fought together. We had a lot of players coming in and making so much of a difference. This is really important and will carry us far. Everyone came in very confident and did what they had to do to help us. I think Khalia and I, with this being our first VNL match, we just tried to play with no pressure. We had nothing to lose, so we played really free and that helped us.”

Other key contributors to the American victory were middle blocker Brionne Butler, who dominated the net with eight blocks to go with five kills, setter and captain Micha Hancock, who besides running the team’s offense also scored three points, and libero Justine Wong-Orantes, who did a solid job on the backcourt.

Setter and Captain Micha Hancock perfect pancake

Blocking was a major difference between the teams as the Americans produced 13 stops to eight from the Europeans. The Olympic champions were also better offensively (67 to 61 kills), but the Serbians were slightly more productive from the service line (six aces to five) and got more points from opponent errors (27 to 20).

Serbian captain Ana Bjelica led her team’s offense, producing 19 points with 17 kills and two aces. Outside hitters Bianka Busa (15) and Sara Lozo (12) and middle blocker Maja Aleksic (13) also scored in double digits in the first match of the world champions under the guidance of Italian head coach Giovanni Guidetti.

Serbia had won the three most recent encounters with the Americans, having knocked the Olympic champions out of the VNL 2022 in the quarterfinals and ending their 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship run in the semifinals.

Volleyball Nations League 2023: full schedule and results

The world and the Olympic champions will both have difficult challenges in their second matches in Antalya with Serbia getting back on the court on Thursday, at 20:00 local time (17:00 UTC), to face Türkiye, and the USA playing again on Friday, at the same time, against reigning VNL champions Italy.

Poland defeated Canada in a five set thriller

ANTALYA, Türkiye, May 30, 2023.- Poland defeated Canada in a five set thriller 3-2 (20-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 15-13) in opening day of the Women’s Volleyball Nations League in Antalya, Türkiye.

Canadian outside hitter Alexa Gray became the first player to break the 30-point mark in the VNL 2023, leaving the court with 37 (36 kills, one block) against the Poles. The Europeans had opposite Magdalena Stysiak, with 20 points (15 kills, one ace, four blocks), and outside hitter Olivia Rozanski, with 17 (15 kills, one block, one ace) as their main scorers.

Canadian outside hitter Alexa Gray became the first player to break the 30-point mark in the VNL 2023

Watch Volleyball Nations League 2023 live on VBTV

Volleyball Nations League 2023: full schedule and results

Canada led 68-63 in attacks and scored on 27 opponent errors while committing 25. Poland controlled 13-10 in blocks and 4-3 in aces.

Canada´s next match in Pool 1 is on June 1st against Thailand who lost to Italy also in five sets.

Dominican Republic falls in four sets to home team

NAGOYA, Japan, May 30, 2023.- Outside hitter Sarina Koga led hosts Japan to a 3-1 (25-23, 25-18, 22-25, 25-15) victory over the Dominican Republic in both teams’ opening Volleyball Nations League 2023 Pool 2 match in Nagoya on Tuesday.

Watch Volleyball Nations League 2023 live on VBTV

Volleyball Nations League 2023: full schedule and results

Brayelin Martinez was Dominican Republic’s best scorer with 16 points and her sister and teammate Jineiry in the middle also raised five kill blocks, the only element at which the Caribbeans slightly outscored their Asian opponents.

Dominican Republic vs Japan VNL 2023 preliminary round

The Dominicans rushed off with an early 8-2 lead but inspired by the home fans and led by their captain Koga, Japan battled back to catch up at 18-18 and then pushed forward to close the first set at 25-23. Further improving their attack and their blocking, the home side completely dominated the second set. Three kill blocks from Irisawa helped them open a wide gap on the way to a 25-18 close, shaped up with a smart shot from Koga for the winning point.

The third set was closely contested, with the lead swinging back and forth. With Yonkaira Peña spearheading the Dominican attack and Brayelin Martinez setting off a momentum with two consecutive aces for 20-18, the girls from the Caribbean stayed cooler and a monster block by Lisvel Eve ended the set at 25-22. Japan regained full control in set four. Five points in a row gave them a 7-2 lead and they never looked back, cruising on to a 25-15 close with sub-in Mizuki Tanaka delivering the match winner.

Dominican Republic will be back in action on Thursday with a game against Bulgaria.

Canada and Brazil will face off in Gatineau ahead of VNL

GATINEAU, Canada, May 4, 2023.- Ahead of the highly anticipated Volleyball Nationals League (VNL) 2023, Canada will host volleyball powerhouse Brazil at the Centre Sportif de Gatineau, which also serves as the men’s training centre.

Under the guidance of Canada’s new head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo, the team will use these “friendly” matches to prepare for Volleyball Nations League the following week in Ottawa.

Both matches in Gatineau, Quebec, will be up-close and action packed, with great opportunities for fans to interact with some of the world’s top volleyball players! Schedule: June 1 @ 7pm; June 2 @ 7pm

Groups of 15 people or more can contact Matheus Braz at mbraz@volleyball.ca for the group discount!

Single tickets are available at Eventbrite.ca

Ottawa is hosting week one of the men’s 2023 Volleyball Nations League tournament – June 6 to 11, 2023 at the Arena at TD Place. The teams include Canada, USA, Argentina, Italy, Cuba, Germany, Netherlands and Brazil. All tickets are on sale at www.tdplace.ca