Aug. 14 - USA vs. China, 4:05 p.m. EST
By Jim Stone
In the final pool match of the tournament, Team USA faces China, the world’s third ranked team. Here’s Jim Stone’s scouting report.
1 Yuan Xinyue – middle blocker (height: 6-6; age: 19)
3 Yang Fangxu – opposite (6-3; 21)
6 Gong Xiangyu – middle/opposite
11 Xu Yunli – middle blocker (6-5; 29)
16 Ding Xia – setter (5-11; 29)
2 Zhu Ting – left-side hitter (6-4; 21)
9 Zhang Changning – left-side hitter (6-4; 20)
15 Lin Li – libero (5-7; 24)
- China is a very good team. They’re taller than the USA team but not as physical.
- China serves tough. At times, they’re error prone, but they’ll score points with their serve.
- China can present multiple lineups, with Gong Xiangyu (#6) playing both middle and right side. From the middle, she hits very quick slides, A’s and 31s, but she has been moved to opposite during this Olympics because of an injury to Yang Fangxu (#3). Taking her place in the middle has been Xu Yunli (#11).
- Zhu Ting (#2) and Zhang Changning (#9) are tall, talented left-sides who hit a wide variety of shots with good velocity. Both will present a formidable block against the right-side attack of USA middle Foluke Akinradewo or opposite Kelly Murphy.
- China can get into trouble with serve-receive but is generally a good passing team.
- This is a fairly young team. Most players are in their early 20s.
- Head coach, Lang Ping, is a proven coach.
- China runs a 5-1 offense with setter Ding Xia (#16), a lefty who is aggressive offensively hitting the second ball.
- The left-side attack is where most of the points are scored. Both Zhu (#2) and Zhang (#9) can win any match by themselves. They hit all the shots with good velocity – crosscourt, line, high hands – and rarely make unforced errors.
- The middle attackers, especially Gong Xiangyu (#6), can hit very quick both in front and behind the setter. But if Gong stays on the right because of the injury to Yang (#3), that weakens their middle attack.
- China rarely sets back row, but Zhu Ting (#2) is certainly capable of being a force from the back row.
- Yuan Xinyue (#1), although 6-6, is very slender, and a significant number of attacks go through her arms. Other players are solid blockers, especially their left-side blockers.
- Back row is solid. All defenders and the libero work hard on defense and are capable.
- Of note: Both Zhu Ting (#2) and Zhang Changning (#9) are tall left-side blockers. Either can impact the success of the USA offense behind the setter.
- China blocks 3 when opponent is out of system. The back-row attack of USA opposite Kelly Murphy will be important to balance the net when the USA is in a front-row setter rotation.
USA vs. China outlook
- Going into the tournament, these are the best teams in the world. It would not be a surprise if the USA wins. It also wouldn’t be a surprise for China to win. It would be a surprise if either team wins easily.
- Both China and the U.S. are solid in all aspects of the game. China might have an edge in left-side attack; USA has an edge in the middle with Akinradewo and the right-side attack with Murphy.
- USA proved against Netherlands that it can be a very good defending team. Libero Kayla Banwarth is a wonderful defensive player.
- USA has a slightly more mature and experienced team, which might be a factor in an Olympic environment.
- Prediction: The match will go 5 sets with the USA coming out with a narrow victory.
1 Alisha Glass – setter (height: 6-0; age 28) – Leland, Michigan; Penn State
2 Kayla Banwarth – libero (5-10; 27) - Dubuque, Iowa; University of Nebraska
3 Courtney Thompson – setter (5-8; 31) – Kent, Washington; University of Washington
5 Rachael Adams – middle blocker (6-2; 26) - Cincinnati, Ohio; University of Texas
6 Carli Lloyd – setter (5-11; 27) – Bonsall, California; University of California-Berkeley
10 Jordan Larson – outside hitter (6-2; 29); Hooper, Nebraska; University of Nebraska
12 Kelly Murphy – opposite (6-2; 26) Wilmington, Illinois; University of Florida
13 Christa Dietzen – middle blocker (6-2; 29) Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania; Penn State
15 Kim Hill – outside hitter (6-4; 26) Portland, Oregon; Pepperdine
16 Foluke Akinradewo – middle blocker (6-3; 29) Plantation, Florida; Stanford
23 Kelsey Robinson – outside hitter (6-2; 24) Bartlett, Illinois; University of Nebraska
25 Karsta Lowe – opposite (6-4; 23) Rancho Santa Fe, California; UCLA