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Captain Larson leads from the front as USA hand Dutch first loss of VNL

 
Toyota, Japan, May 23, 2018 - Jordan Larson provided a sublime demonstration of her immense skill and inspiring leadership as she spearheaded the United States to a hugely impressive 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-23) romp against the Netherlands in the inaugural women's FIVB Volleyball Nations League on Wednesday.

The American captain dominated the highly-anticipated Pool 5 clash against the previously undefeated Dutch as she racked up a game-high 18 points, including 14 spikes from 37 attempts, as well as two blocks.

Larson's fellow outside hitter Kimberley Hill was also in irresistible form, scoring the first point in each of the three sets, giving her world no. 2 ranked team the vital early lead, as she finished with 12 kills.

The Dutch had been the only unbeaten team in the new competition, winning all three of their matches in Russia last week, then saving a match point before beating Belgium in a five-set thriller in Toyota on Tuesday, but found the Americans too strong on the night.

The Dutch captain Maret Balkestein-Grothues was the driving force for her team, finishing with 14 points, while opposite spiker Lonneke Sloetjes was the next best with 12.

The US had won their last eight matches at world level major tournaments against the Netherlands dating back to 2009 and immediately signalled their intentions to make it nine on the trot.

With Lauren Gibbemeyer missing the match and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley playing only as a substitute after the pair played the starring roles in USA's 3-0 win over Japan on Tuesday, Kelly Murphy (10), Foluke Akinradewo (8) and Tetori Dixon (6) filled the void with a combined tally of 24 points.

USA raced out to a 10-5 lead and sealed the opening set after just 22 minutes with a cleverly disguised dink from Larson after she combined with American setter Carli Lloyd, who played a key role in her team's victory.

The Dutch, who got six points each from the athletic trio of Anne Buijs, Yvon Belien and Nicole Kool, played better the longer the match went but were unable to close out a set.

The Netherlands led 15-14 in the second before the Americans went on a run of five points to regain control, then the Dutch rallied back from 19-12 to 19-19 before Akinradewo sealed the USA's win with a devastating block.

The USA's next match is against Belgium on Thursday while the Netherlands faces the pool hosts Japan.

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