July 9, 1999
The U.S. women's volleyball team defeated the Czech Republic 3-2 (15-25, 20-25, 25-16, 25-23, 15-3) today at San Jose Obrero, rallying from two games down to win and improve their WUG record to 3-2. The difference in the match was Team USA's play at the net as they recorded 52 block assists, translating into 28 total blocks. Leading the block party was Elisabeth Bachman (Farmington, Minn.) who recorded 16 blocks, her third consecutive match with at least eight blocks. Benishe Dillard (Kent, Wash.) provided a huge spark off the bench, contributing 10 blocks despite playing just the final three games of the match. "The players who came in off the bench really changed the atmosphere of the match," head coach Jim Stone said. "They (Dillard and Kerri Walsh) played more aggressive as opposed to not wanting to make a mistake."
The first two games of the match were filled with mistakes by Stone's club, the majority of which centered around poor passing. The Czech Republic jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first game and Team USA never got closer than two points after that. Game two was a tight battle until the Czechs ran off five straight points to take an 18-13 lead and subsequently lead the match 2-0.
In game three, lineup changes and an intense demeanor began paving the way for a USA victory. Propelled by the play of Walsh (Saratoga, Calif.), who had six blocks in the game, the United States jumped out to an 8-2 lead. Though Czechoslovakia battled back, Dillard would end the game and the Czechs' hopes with a solo block.
Game four was the tightest of the match, with the lead changing hands six times. Trailing 17-16, the red, white and blue used a 3-0 spurt to take the lead for good. A dump by setter Robyn AhMow (Honolulu) provided the final U.S. point and sent the match to a fifth and deciding game.
In the fifth game, Team USA dominated from the start, giving up only three points in the game. Eight of their 15 points in game five came off blocks, including three of the last four. "Down 0-2, we were pretty determined not to let this match slip away," Stone said. "In the fifth game it was more a case of us making a lot of good plays rather than the Czech Republic giving us points. We weren't hurting ourselves, which is something we had done earlier in the tournament."
Team USA's final match of the WUG is tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. against Canada at Galatzo. The teams will be playing for ninth place.