USA players take a selfie during the VNL awarding ceremony in July
Lausanne, Switzerland, September 25, 2018 – Reigning title-holders USA took off to the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Japan with 14 players, announced by coach Karch Kiraly a couple of days before departure.
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To defend their title, the Americans will rely on the services of setters Carli Lloyd and Micha Hancock, opposites Karsta Lowe and Kelly Murphy, outside hitters Jordan Larson, Kimberly Hill, Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Sarah Wilhite, middle blockers Foluke Akinradewo, Lauren Gibbemeyer, Rachael Adams and Tetori Dixon, and liberos Kelsey Robinson and Megan Courtney.
Half of the 14 American athletes to compete in Japan were also on Kiraly’s roster four years ago, when the North American squad won gold at the 2014 World Championship in Italy. As many as eight players on the current team have Olympic experience.
The United States will start off their campaign in Kobe, where they will compete against Azerbaijan, Korea, Russia, Thailand and Trinidad & Tobago in the first-round battles of Pool C. The World Championship commences on September 29 and runs through October 20, when the final match in Yokohama will determine the new title-holders.
Earlier this season, USA won gold at the inaugural Volleyball Nations League. 11 of the players who achieved that success at the finals in China, have also made the squad for Japan. USA also won gold at the 2018 Pan American Cup. In mid-August, Kiraly’s team won all four friendly matches against powerhouse Brazil away. Their impressive record puts USA at the top of the favourites list ahead of Japan 2018, but their coach plays down the importance of this status.
“We’ve had some good results. Lots of players and staff have made important contributions, but ultimately those things don’t give us even one extra point at the World Championship,” Karch Kiraly said. “We are not defending anything. We won the last World Championship, and that was nice, but that’s ancient history, and that result has no bearing on this year’s tournament. Now we are on the new and fresh process - along with many other strong teams that have high hopes - of attempting to win a totally separate tournament, the 2018 World Championship. We’re going to have to go out and fight our hardest, every single play, to earn 25 points before the other team does.”