MILAN (AP) — Kimberly Hill led the United States to its first major women’s volleyball title, scoring 20 points in a 3-1 victory over China on Sunday in the world championships.
Hill had the final kill, and captain Christa Dietzen added 15 points in the Americans’ 27-25, 25-20, 16-25, 26-24 victory before 12,600 fans at the Mediolanum Forum.
“We came here to make history and we made it,” said U.S. coach Karch Kiraly, a three-time Olympic champion. “It was a tough battle, but we made it.”
The U.S. women had never won the world championships, World Cup or Olympics. The Americans finished second in the world championships in 1967 and 2002.
“It’s the first time for the USA and we made it,” said Dietzen, the Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania, player who had knee surgery in December. “We represented present and future volleyball programs, but most importantly we did it together.”
The 6-foot-4 Hill, from Portland, Oregon, was selected the tournament’s most valuable player and best spiker. She was 19 of 31 with only one fault and had 13 digs and 25 excellent receptions on 39 attempts.
“I feel ecstatic and happy and just cannot believe it is real,” Hill said. “The award was a surprise and I still cannot believe it either, it is just amazing. Tonight it is everything. Eating, drinking and we are just going to celebrate being together.”
Alisha Glass of Leland, Michigan, was honored as the best setter. She had 36 running sets, 53 still sets and four faults.
“I can’t find the words,” Glass said. “I am incredibly proud of this team, of the USA Volleyball organization, everybody that played a part. It was such a team win. We did something that’s never been done. This is only the beginning. We’re going to get better and better.”
Zeng Chunlei led China with 20 points.
“I would like to congratulate Lang Ping and her team,” Kiraly said. “They played a marvelous tournament. After we got a 2-0 lead we knew China would never give up. It was a battle to the end and they have some great young players, as do we.
“I hope that we will be playing against each other in the future. It is just good for the sport to have teams with such history performing at a high level.”
In Saturday’s semifinals, the U.S. stunned top-ranked Olympic champion Brazil 3-0.
Brazil beat Italy 25-15, 25-13, 22-25, 22-25, 15-7 in the bronze-medal match.