Aug. 20 - USA vs. Netherlands, 12pm EST
By Jim Stone
In the match for the Olympic bronze medal, USA will take on Netherlands, the world's 11th-ranked team. When the two teams met in pool play, USA came back from being down two sets to one to win the match in 5 sets. Final scores were 18-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, and 15-8. The bronze medal match can be expected to be another battle between two of the best teams in the country.
A scouting report for Netherlands is below.
14 Laura Dijkema – setter (height: 6-0; age: 26)
10 Lonneke Sloetjes – opposite (6-4; 25)
6 Maret Balkestein-Grothues – left-side hitter (5-11; 27)
11 Anne Buijs – left-side hitter (6-3; 24)
5 Robin de Kruijf – middle blocker (6-4; 25)
7 Quinta Steenbergen – middle blocker (6-2; 31)
1 Kirsten Knip – libero (5-9; 23)
- Run a 5-1 offense with setter Laura Dijkema (#4). She rarely attacks.
- Good serving team. Every server has some form of a jump float serve, no topspin servers. Lots of low, flat serves with good velocity.
- Outside hitter and team captain #6 Maret Balkestein-Grothues was injured near the end of the pool play match versus USA. In their last two matches, she has been slowly working her way back onto the court as a back row sub. In set 4 versus China, she stayed in and rotated into the front row for the first time since the injury. She had been one of their most reliable and consistent passers in serve receive before her injury.
- Outside Hitter #4 Celeste Plak was used sparingly in Sets 1, 2 and 3 in the match versus China as a front row attacking sub. However, she was given additional playing time in Set 4 and was very effective attacking the high cross court seam and consistently terminated her opportunities. Based on her performance & effectiveness to end the match, she could possibly see more time on the court in the match versus the USA.
- Left-side attackers hit at antennae. Middles mostly hit 31s and slides, high backsets and pipes to opposite Lonneke Sloetjes (#10).
- Sloetjes (#10) and Anne Buijs (#11) are the primary attackers.
The two primary play sets in their semi-final match versus China was the (Go/4)(1)(Red/5) combination which was run 11 out of the 20 plays in this rotation. The (Go/4)(Slide)(2) was executed 6 times while the (Go/4)(3)(Red/5) was used 3 times. Opposite #10 Sloetjes received 15 of the 27 total sets in this rotation and middle blocker #3 Belien received 7 of the sets.
Two play sets were used in Rotation 2. The (Go/4)(1)(Red/5) was used 11 times and the (Go/4)(3)(Red/5) was used 4 times. The set distribution was fairly even with OH #8 Pietersen and OH #4 Plak each receiving 7 sets and OPP Sloetjes getting 5 sets in this rotation.
The playsets used in Rotation 3 were:
(Go/4)(1)(Red/5) used 8 times;
(Go/4)(3)(Red/5) used 3 times;
(Go/4)(Back 1)(Red/5) used 4 times;
(Go/4)(Slide)(2) used once.
OH Pietersen received the majority of the sets in serve receive and opposite Slotjes received the majority of the sets in transition.
The only play set in this rotation was the (Go/4)(Slide) executed 11 times. Opposite Sloetjes is the back row option hitting the pipe set. Setter #14 Dijkema attacks sparingly but does look for her opportunities to surprise.
Play set (Go/4)(Slide)(Dump)(Pipe) was utilized in 14 of the 15 plays executed in Rotation 5. OPP Sloetjes ran the pipe set in serve receive and the D set in transition opportunities.
The two play sets used in this rotation were the (Go/4)(Slide)(Pipe) used 6 times and the (Go/4)(1)(D) used 2 times. Outside hitter #11 Buijs received 8 of the 20 total sets and opposite back row attacker Sloetjes received 7 of the 20 total sets in rotation 6.
- Mostly block line vs. the left-side attack, dig cross-court and seam. As a team, they defend well and give good effort.
- Good blocking team, with the exception of the setter. Tall blockers who penetrate the net well. Middle blockers are especially good when they can get to the outside.
- Dijkema (#14) and Balkestein-Grothues (#6) are small blockers who may be exploited.
- Sloetjes (#10) is their best attacker. She hits at both antennae and out of the back-row (pipes and Ds) and can effectively hit to all parts of the court.
- Left-side attacker Buijs (#11) likes to hit mostly cross court.
- MB Quinta Steenbergen (#7) hits a high percentage as blockers focus on Sloetjes (#10)
- Balkestein-Grothues (#6) is weak offensively and will be a liability when Netherlands is out of system.
How they will win
- Serve well, get the opponent out of system and allow their middle blockers to get to the outside to set up a good block.
- Sloetjes (#10) scores a lot of points.
- One of their strengths is that they are solid in all aspects with no significant weakness. Netherlands is capable of matching up physically with most teams. On a given night, they can defeat any team.
How they will lose
- Depend too much on Sloetjes (#10). They need one more consistent point-scorer.
- Pass poorly and offense gravitates to the left-side attackers.
- Serve doesn’t force opponents out of system.
How to defeat Netherlands
- Mentally prepare for a challenging match. This team is capable of playing with the top teams.
- Defend Sloetjes (#10) as a priority. For Netherlands to win, she has to score about 50% of their points.
- Pass well to hold middle blockers, and make sure all attackers are involved in the offense.
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