Nanjing, China, July 3, 2019 - The 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League Women's Finals started on Wednesday with a victory for last year's winners the United States 3-1 (21-25, 25-16, 25-15, 26-24) against Poland, one of two teams with Italy participating in the Finals for the first time this year.
Annie Drews led the scoring for the North Americans with 25 points, with Kelsey Robinson (19), Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (13) and Haleigh Washington (11) also scoring in double digits. Twenty-two points were scored by Poland's leading scorer, Malwina Smarzek.
USA ended their run in the Preliminary Round with 12 wins from 15 matches and a second place in the overall ranking. Poland completed the round robin with nine wins, one more than their closest rivals to qualify for the Finals, Belgium and the Dominican Republic. USA play their next match on Friday against Brazil while Poland take on the South Americans tomorrow.
USA-Poland Match Centre
United States - Poland (July 3, 2019)
· United States and Poland will meet for the 21st time in world level major competitions. USA won 11 of the previous 20 encounters (W11-L9).
· United States have won 11 of their last 12 matches against Poland at world level, with the only exception in that run a 3-1 defeat in the 2010 World Grand Prix preliminary round.
· USA and Poland will clash for the third time in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. United States won both previous encounters, both by a 3-1 scoreline.
· On 15 May 2018, United States beat Poland 3-1 in Lincoln in what was both sides' first ever VNL match. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley scored a match-high 25 points on her VNL debut.
· Earlier this VNL season, USA came from behind to beat Poland 3-1 in the preliminary round in Jiangmen on 12 June. Andrea Drews scored 21 points, more than any other player on the field.
· United States won the inaugural edition of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in 2018, defeating Turkey in five sets in the final in Nanjing on 1 July 2018. Kimberly Hill won 20 points for USA, at least two more than any of her teammates.
· Unites States won 12 matches in this year's VNL preliminary round (W12-L3), the joint-most along with China (W12-L3). USA entered the 2018 final round after winning 13 of their 15 preliminary round fixtures (W13-L2).
· Last year, USA kicked off the VNL final round with a five-set victory over Turkey. Karch Kiraly's side came from two sets down to beat the Turks 3-2 at the Olympic Sports Centre in Nanjing on 27 June 2018.
· United States have won 18 FIVB Volleyball Nations League matches in straight sets, more than any other team (China next on 16).
· United States have won three of their last four VNL matches in straight sets, with the only exception in that run a five-set victory over Netherlands on 19 June.
· Andrea Drews scored 158 points for USA in this year's VNL preliminary round, at least 32 more than any of her teammates (Chiaka Ogbogu 126).
· With 136 spikes from 294 attempts (46.26%), Drews was among the best attackers in the 2019 VNL preliminary round.
· Poland qualified for the final six of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League after finishing the preliminary round in sixth place. They won nine and lost six of their 15 preliminary round fixtures.
· Last year, Poland missed out on a final round spot after an eight-place finish in the preliminary round (W8-L7).
· Poland have yet to win a world level major competition. Their best result came at the 1952 World Championship where they finished runners-up to Soviet Union.
· Poland won just two of their last six VNL matches. Only Serbia (W0-L6) suffered more defeats in the last two weeks of this year's VNL preliminary round than Poland (W2-L4).
· Malwina Smarzek scored 365 points in this year's VNL preliminary round, at least 107 more than any other player. With 258 points, Dominican Republic's Brayelin Elizabeth Martinez finished in second place in the top scorers list.
· Smarzek's 365 points in the 2019 VNL are four more than her total number of points in the 2018 VNL preliminary round, when she finished as overall top scorer on 361 points.
· Smarzek has scored at least 30 points in nine different VNL matches. No other player reached the 30-goal mark on more than three occasions. Smarzek bagged an all-time VNL high 41 points in Poland's 3-1 win over Bulgaria in Apeldoorn on 28 May.
· Smarzek scored the most points for Poland in 12 of their 15 preliminary round matches in this year's VNL. Magdalena Stysiak was the team's leading scorer in the other three games, against Belgium (3-1 win on 5 June), Turkey (3-2 loss on 13 June) and Korea (3-1 loss on 20 June).