Ruse, Bulgaria, May 21, 2019 – It took a little bit of concentration to seal the first set, but USA got off to a cracking start in the 2019 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League as they began the defence of last year’s title with a solid and convincing 3-0 (25-23, 25-8, 25-22) win over Belgium at Ruse.

USA’s early lead in the first set quickly evarporated as Belgium brought the score level – but it still took the Americans only one set ball to bring it home, after a huge diving dig by libero Megan Courtney followed by a spike from the right by opposite Andrea Drews for the last point.

There was none of that in the remainder of match, though, as Belgium’s receiving failed to cope with USA’s serving. At 25-8, the second set tied the lowest-scoring record in the VNL, set last year in the Netherlands v Argentina match (third set in the 3-1 win of the Dutch).

It was all just a bit more balanced in the third set at Ruse, but the gap between the two sides was still evident, despite the fact that coach Karch Kiraly has brought on some fresh faces to the USA squad, giving several of his more established players the chance to rest after a gruelling club season that wrapped up just three days ago.

Belgium came to within a point towards the end, but a serve by Madison Kingdon at match point created havoc on the other side and allowed Sarah Wilhite to stuff a free ball on the net and bring the whole operation to a close.

Drews was top scorer of the game with 19 points, including five of USA’s six aces and a 61% (14/23) attacking efficiency. Grobelna, with 12 points, was the only Belgian to score in double digits.

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