USA (USA) vs. Colombia (COL) women - Pool C #6909897

The American coach listens to the national anthem ahead of the team's debut in Łódź

Reigning Olympic champions the United States were in full control in their opening match at the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament against Colombia on Saturday, in Łódź, but head coach Karch Kiraly is confident his team can show more in the remaining eight days of competition in Poland.

The Americans gave the first step towards one of the two spots at the Paris Olympics that are in play on Pool C with a 3-0 (25-12, 25-12, 25-13) victory over the Colombians and will now focus on improving for their next encounters.

  • Watch all the matches of the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament on VBTV.

The Olympic champions headed to Łódź without their two main setters, Jordyn Poulter and Micha Hancock, who are both injured, and saw Lauren Carlini and Ashley Evans command the team on the court against the South Americans.

“I think our mindset is to try to play better every point that we play,” the coach told Volleyball World. “We’ve been playing some different lineups throughout this year in the Volleyball Nations League and the NORCECA Championship and we’re looking to find the best rhythm and teamwork as possible. We were off to a nice start.”

USA (USA) vs. Colombia (COL) women - Pool C #6909920

Evans was called up to replace the injured Hancock

The Americans had good showings in both tournaments, finishing fourth at the VNL and second at the NORCECA Championship, but according to Kiraly, the fact that they lost two close matches at the end of both events indicates there’s still room for improvement for the Olympic champions and he hopes to see some of it over the next few days in Łódź.

“Probably the most important lesson we learned from these tournaments is that we can still be better,” the Olympic champion reflected. “We lost a really close match to Poland for the bronze medal in VNL and another close one to a very good Dominican team in the NORCECA Championship. We always have more to improve and more work to do.”

USA (USA) vs. Colombia (COL) women - Pool C #6909908

Legendary outside hitter Jordan Larson (10) got six points in her first international match since the Tokyo Olympics, in 2021

Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournaments: schedule and results

The Olympic champions will, indeed, probably need better performances in order to continue winning at the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament and secure a spot in Paris as they will face some of the top teams in the world, such as Italy (fourth in the FIVB World Rankings), Poland (seventh), Germany (12th) and Thailand (14th), over the next eight days of competition.

“When we play other great teams in the world, we’re excited for the opportunity because that’s why we do this thing,”, Kiraly remarked. “The most fun in volleyball is to have really close, competitive matches, where both teams are uncomfortable and are tested. That’s how we learn about ourselves and that’s how we grow and improve. We’re grateful for opportunities like that and we’ll get a lot of them in this tournament.”

Against Colombia, middle blocker Dana Rettke was the leading American scorer with 11 points (seven kills, three blocks, one ace), followed by opposite Jordan Thompson, who tallied ten (seven kills, three aces).

On Sunday, the USA will get back on the court to play Thailand at 14:30 local time (12:30 UTC). In their opening match, on Saturday, the Thais fell to Germany 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-20). Hosts Poland had a strong debut, downing Slovenia 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-22), while Italy ended the day with another sweep, defeating Korea 3-0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-17).

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Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournaments
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