2022 Women’s Cricket World Cup Final to feature England vs. Australia

2022 Women's Cricket World Cup: England vs. South Africa
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Defending champion England will face six-time champion Australia in the final of the Women’s Cricket World Cup after beating South Africa by 137 runs Thursday in the tournament’s second semifinal at Christchurch.

Australia beat the West Indies by 157 runs in the first of the semifinals Wednesday.

England began the tournament with three straight losses but sealed its place in back-to-back finals with a massive form reversal which culminated Thursday in its fifth consecutive victory.

Opener Danni Wyatt made a career-best 129 from 125 balls as England posted 293-8 after being asked by South Africa to bat first.

Anya Shrubsole claimed the critical wicket of opener Laura Wolvaardt for a duck in the second over South Africa’s reply and Sophie Ecclestone took 6-36 — the best figures of the tournament — as England bowled out the South Africans for 156 in 38 overs.

Wolvaardt had been the leading batter at the tournament with scores of 41, 75, 77, 67, 90, 3 and 80, for 433 runs at 61.8, prior to the semifinals. Her early loss was a massive blow to South Africa’s hopes of reaching its first World Cup final.

South Africa came into the tournament ranked second in the world behind Australia and played to that ranking. Its only loss in the eight-team round-robin was to Australia, which is unbeaten ahead of Sunday’s final.

England, after its early losses to Australia, the West Indies and South Africa, steadily improved and, playing knockout cricket through its last five matches, fully turned the corner with wins over host New Zealand and India which clinched its semifinal spot.

Still, it was the underdog when the semifinals began and Wyatt upended expectations with an extraordinary innings which unfolded with the assistance of the South Africa fielders who dropped her five times, at 22, 36, 77, 116 and 118. Wyatt wasn’t used as an opener at the start of the tournament but was forced into that role and came into her own at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

South Africa’s bowlers either were too full or too short and Wyatt reveled in the opportunities the errant length and width provided. She hit powerfully through the offside forward of point and rifled short balls to the boundary behind square.

“My plan was to capitalize on any width and run well between the wickets, just play my game,” Wyatt said. “There have been a few good catches taken off me in the tournament. It was nice to have a few dropped today.”

England lost opener Tammy Beaumont in the fourth over but Wyatt held together the innings and built partnerships whenever possible. The best produced 116 runs for the fifth wicket with Sophie Dunkley, who made 60 from 72 balls.

Wyatt finally was out in the 45th over but England’s total was made more substantial by Sophie Ecclestone, who hit 24 runs from 11 balls before falling to the last ball of the innings.

Shrubsole then knocked off the top of the South Africa innings when she dismissed Wolvaardt and Lizelle Lee within the first four overs.

Ecclestone then produced an outstanding performance to ensure South Africa had no chance of recovering, living up to her billing as the No. 1-ranked bowler in women’s one-day internationals.

“Sophie has been brilliant for us,” England captain Heather Knight said. “That’s her first five-for in international cricket and I thought she bowled outstandingly. She and Charlie Dean were really good on a wicket which had a little bit in it for them.”

Knight said England would start as long shots again in the final against Australia on Sunday.

“I think we’re going in as underdogs for sure but it’s a fresh slate isn’t it?” she said. “It’s a fresh slate on the morning of the game and what a story will be written for us if we can do it.”

Crystal Dunn returns to USWNT roster five months after giving birth

Nigeria v USWNT
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Crystal Dunn was named to the USWNT roster for two upcoming friendlies against England and Spain, marking her first official selection since giving birth to son Marcel in May.

Dunn made her NWSL return with the Portland Thorns earlier this month and also trained with the U.S. team as a non-rostered player ahead of friendlies vs. Nigeria.

In addition to Dunn, the 24-player roster features a veteran core of Alyssa Naeher, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Mallory Pugh, and Megan Rapinoe.

Alex Morgan was not named to the USWNT roster due to a knee injury. While U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski did not provide details of the injury, he noted that “if this was a World Cup final, Alex was going to be on this trip and was going to play, no question.”

Other roster highlights include 17-year-old Alyssa Thompson, who becomes the first player born in 2004 to receive a USWNT call-up. Thomas, a high senior, plays club soccer for the U-17 Total Futbol Academy boys’ team.

“We are very excited for her, very excited about her potential and qualities and looking forward to seeing how she will turn out in our environment,” Andonovski said of Thompson. “This camp is not make it or break it. It’s a first experience for her, it’s just something that she shouldn’t even worry about.”

The USWNT also includes a handful of players who have made their USWNT breakthrough this season — thanks in part to both strong NWSL play and injuries to more veteran players. That list includes the likes of Naomi Girma (7 caps), Taylor Kornieck (5 caps), Hailie Mace (5 caps), Sam Coffey (1 cap), and Savannah DeMelo (0 caps).

Andonovski on Thursday called Coffey, a midfielder for the Portland Thorns, a candidate for NWSL MVP.

USWNT Roster for October 2022 Friendlies vs. England and Spain

Goalkeepers (3):

  • Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit)
  • Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage)
  • Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)


  • Alana Cook (OL Reign)
  • Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Sofia Huerta (OL Reign)
  • Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current)
  • Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)

Midfielders (8):

  • Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA)
  • Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Rose Lavelle (OL Reign)
  • Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
  • Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit)
  • Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Forwards (6):

  • Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit)
  • Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars)
  • Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)
  • Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)
  • Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Justine Wong-Orantes’ atypical path to becoming one of the best liberos in the world

Justine Wong-Orantes hits the ball in the women's semi-final volleyball match between USA and Serbia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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It’s been 20 years since the same nation held both the Olympic and world volleyball titles at the same time, but libero Justine Wong-Orantes is looking to help lead Team USA accomplish that very feat at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships in the Netherlands and Poland. Competition began on Friday and the U.S. is currently 2-0 after group play wins against Kazakhstan and Canada.

“We’re trying to win, for sure,” Wong-Orantes told On Her Turf. “I think, especially with the new turn of the program and the new year of the quad, we just have a really nice blend of veterans and also newcomers on the team.”

The 14-woman roster for Team USA, which is ranked No. 1 in the world and won its first Olympic title last summer, features six players from that gold-medal-winning team. And while Wong-Orantes is among the 2021 U.S. Olympic team veterans, she’s still a relative newcomer to international play.

The Southern California native enjoyed a notable junior career – she was 12 when she became the youngest female to ever earn an AAA rating in beach volleyball – and was a standout collegian at Nebraska, where she was a member of the 2015 NCAA championship team. But Wong-Orantes followed a different path upon graduation, initially choosing not to go overseas to play professionally.

While she was first selected for the U.S. national team in 2016 and played a handful of international tournaments in the following years, it wasn’t until she started playing professionally in Germany in 2019 that she saw the potential to elevate her position on the roster. In particular, the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics gave her an additional year of overseas experience, which she calls “a blessing in disguise.”

“I just felt like I was still in that developmental stage,” she said. “And a whole year postponement allowed me to go overseas and really get all the touches, all the repetitions, and just kind of expose myself to international volleyball another year. So I was, in hindsight, pretty thankful for that COVID season because I got an extra year under my belt, and I think that just gave me a ton of confidence.”

Ahead of the Olympics, Wong-Orantes earned “best libero” honors at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball National League in Rimini, Italy, which helped secure her spot on the Olympic roster. In Tokyo, she followed up with another standout performance and was named best libero of the Olympic tournament.

As to how the Wong-Orantes transformed into one of the world’s top liberos, she points to her background as a beach volleyball player. She began competing at age 8, and her first partner was Sara Hughes, a star on the AVP Pro Tour who also won two NCAA titles with USC.

“I think having that background and just the court awareness that beach volleyball forces you to have allowed me to really have a good read on the game,” said Wong-Orantes. “I think that’s what makes a great libero is just reading and always being reactive towards the ball.”

Wong-Orantes also credits the assistance of mental coach Sue Enquist, a former UCLA softball coach and U.S. national team coach, who now helps teams work on their culture and relationships. Enquist began working with the U.S. volleyball team during the pandemic and has continued in her role ever since.

“We just worked on a lot of stuff within ourselves, within our program, how to communicate with each other off the court, and I think that honestly propelled us into such a high, high level with how we worked with each other, and then that transferred onto the court,” explained Wong-Orantes, who noted the team has Enquist on speed dial while at the World Championship. “I really commend Sue. I just really give a lot of praise to her because I think our culture was never bad, but I think [she] just transformed into a different level.”

2022-09-26 - FIVB Volleyball Womens World Championship 2022 - Day 4
ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS – Justine Wong-Orantes (far right) poses for a photo with her U.S. teammates after defeating Canada at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on September 26, 2022. (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Wong-Orantes said she and her U.S. teammates are on their toes for the world championships, which features twice as many teams (24) as the Olympics and a “more grueling” format.

“It’s going to be a long tournament, and I think we’re really going to need all 14 of us that are here. I’m pretty certain that, at any given moment, someone’s going to be called on and someone’s going to need to step up in big moments.”