U.S. Women start VNL Week 2 by defeating Croatia

BRASILIA, Brazil, June 13, 2023.- The U.S. Women’s National Team moved to 5-0 in Volleyball Nations League (VNL) preliminary round play with a 3-1 (17-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-15) victory over Croatia in Brasilia, Brazil.

The U.S. Women have Wednesday off before facing Thailand (2-2) on June 15.

Croatia earned its first set win in this year’s VNL in the opening frame. The U.S. Women rallied to take a close second set before rolling to victories in the third and fourth.

“After the first loss, we had to make some adjustments with our blocks and defense systems,” said outside hitter Ali Frantti, who was making her 2023 VNL debut. “We also talked about serving more aggressively. They were very comfortable in serve receive, so it was important to try to get them off the net.”

Frantti and opposite Jordan Thompson, who was also making her VNL debut this season, combined for 29 kills. Frantti led the U.S. team with 15 kills with a .419 hitting percentage, and Thompson registered a .541 hitting efficiency with 14 kills.

Jordan Thompson USA

“It was a surreal moment to step back on the court wearing the USA jersey. It’s something I never take for granted,” Frantti described. “Playing with these women is an absolute dream for me. All of us have the same goal and we all push ourselves to be better. Everyone steps up when they need to and that’s the beauty of a team sport.”

Outside hitter Khalia Lanier contributed 12 kills, while middle blockers Brionne Butler (six) and Asjia O’Neal (three) totaled nine kills without an error in 13 attacks.

The U.S. totaled 14 blocks to Croatia’s six, led by Butler’s five.

The United States will host the 2023 Women’s VNL Final Round on July 12-16 at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, which means the U.S. automatically qualifies.