United States Drop Five-Setter to Top-Ranked Türkiye

ARLINGTON, Texas, June 2, 2024.- United States gave itself chances to win, but in the end, it suffered a five-set loss (21-25, 25-20, 25-21, 12-25, 15-12) to the world’s top-ranked team Türkiye in a Volleyball Nations League preliminary match on Sunday at College Park Center.

United States (4-4) split their first eight matches in VNL action and is in eighth place. Eight teams, including host Thailand, will advance to the Final Round. The U.S. will return to play on June 10 at 11:30 p.m. PT against France (1-7) to begin the third and final week of preliminary play in Fukuoka, Japan. Türkiye (6-2) finished the first two rounds in fifth place.

 Seven players scored at least five points for the U.S., whose depth was the key in a dominating fourth set and taking the lead late in the fifth.

Opposite Jordan Thompson recorded team-highs of 13 kills and 16 points, while recording three blocks and seven digs. Jordan Larson finished with 14 points on the outside with 12 kills and two service aces, shared match-high honors with seven successful receptions, and added nine digs.

 Libero Justine Wong-Orantes finished with a team-high 14 digs and setter Jordyn Poulter added 11.

 “We run really deep. We have people who can come off the bench and change games for us,” Poulter said. “This entire VNL, we are looking to get better, and I think tonight we got better. It wasn’t the result we wanted, but we got better. We are going to use the next five days before we leave for Japan to see how much better we can get in our gym.”

 Middle blocker Dana Rettke was the other U.S. player who scored in double digits with 13 points on 10 kills and three blocks. Outside Kathryn Plummer totaled eight points and middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu led all players with five blocks, adding a pair of kills.

In a remarkably close match, both on the court and statistically, the teams tied with 61 kills. The U.S. held a 14-11 advantage in blocks, while Türkiye had one more ace (4-3). The U.S. scored on 25 of Türkiye’s errors and committed 22.

 “Our team battled incredible fiercely,” U.S. Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “That was a real positive to take from this. Even when it was rough, we figured out how to push and get to a generally better spot until right at the end of the match.”

 Melissa Vargas of Türkiye showed why she is one of the best players in the world with 27 points on 23 kills, two blocks, and two aces. She also totaled double digits in digs with 10.