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Sports

Olympic volleyball: JCA grad Murphy helps USA win Group B

The Illinois contingent, including Joliet Catholic Academy graduate Kelly Murphy, showed well Sunday as the United States women’s volleyball team finished as the Group B champion in the Summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro, rallying to beat China, 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-19).

The USA finished group play, 5-0, and is in an ideal position heading into Tuesday’s quarterfinals.

Murphy and Wheaton St. Francis graduate Kelsey Robinson both had big kills, especially in the sets the Americans won. Murphy also served an important ace.

“I thought Kelly turned in another solid all-around performance,” JCA coach Christine Scheibe said. “Her serve during Game 2 got Team USA its first real lead and they never looked back from there. I was impressed with how she bounced back with getting blocked against a bigger China team. She came back strong right after, finding angles and tooling the block. Her back-row attacks continue to be a pretty formidable weapon.”

Scheibe noted the USA has struggled serving, “but I thought Kelly helped calm them down. Her ace in Game 4 was big, and she played incredible defense throughout the match. Besides the libero, she was probably their best defender.”

Meanwhile, Scheibe called Robinson a “difference maker in the match. To come off the bench and have such a high hitting percentage was outstanding. I felt she gave the U.S. the spark they needed after Kim Hill struggled. Jordan Larson was incredible as well, and with Kelsey getting on fire, it really made the attack unstoppable.”

In Team USA’s 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20) victory Friday over Italy, Robinson had eight kills, 17 attacks and a block kill. Murphy chipped in five kills, two block kills and two digs.

“I was impressed with Kelly’s service run in Game 3 to get Team USA back within reach (of Italy),” Scheibe said. “I also thought she did have several good swings, but they were struggling to get her the ball in good spots.”

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