Cuiabá, Brazil, July 20, 2017 – In a thrilling four-set match, USA upset the Netherlands 3-1 (25-15, 23-25, 28-26, 25-21).
With 23 points, USA’s Michelle Bartsch-Hackley was the main contributor of the game.
USA dominated the first set with consistent serve and an effective defense system. The Olympic bronze medallists kept their rhythm and opened with six points of advantage by the second technical time-out (16-10). After another ace by USA, the coach of team Netherlands, Jamie Morrison, asked for a time-out (19-11). But the North-Americans did not stop the good performance and finished the set at 25-15.
The Netherlands came to the second set with better service and opened with a good advantage (1-4). The USA hardened their game to come back by the first technical time-out (8-7). The Europeans were trying to enhance the side-out, and after a long rally, Anne Buijs killed it to score (15-13). Even with the Dutch improvement, team USA kept a comfortable advantage and with a free ball on the net, Dixon scored to make it 20-16. The Netherlands got back on the right track as Celeste Plak killed another attack and the scoreboard got close at 20-19. The turning point came after Anne Buijs with the help of the block scored (21-22). But team USA got back ahead after a great rally in which Bartsch-Hackley put the ball down (23-22). Nevertheless, the Netherlands came back again and the set finished after a net fault by Team USA (23-25).
In the third set the thrill did not stop. Team USA started with a good service but the Dutch players equalized with their defensive system and counter-strikes. Thanks to Laura Dijkema’s block the score board was tied at 7-7. After the technical time-out, the North-Americans did not miss their opportunities and opened a three points advantage (11-8). But the joy did not last, as Team Netherlands scored five points in a row (11-13). With a little help from the net, Maret Balkenstein scored with service and broaden the advantage for the Europeans (13-16). After the technical time-out, the USA scored five times in a row to come back in the game (18-16). The set ended after a Yvon Belien attack on the net and Team USA won (28-26).
The fourth set started with the Netherlands at full throttle (1-5). The Europeans kept going and their opponents were in trouble in reception. With a spike by Balkenstein the scored reached (3-8). With the sharp attacks by Yvon Belien and Anne Buijs the Netherlands did not let the North-Americans get close, and with a block by Nika Daalderop they had a five points advantage (9-14). Team USA recovered a part of the difference and the score by the second technical time-out was 15-16. Point by point the North-Americans managed to comeback and then took the lead (18-17). With a solid performance afterwards, Team USA finished the set (25-21).