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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 20, 2007) -
Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) led Team USA with a match-high 20 points on 13 kills and seven blocks. Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) tallied five kills, three blocks and two aces for 10 points. Ashley Engle's (Yorba Linda, Calif.) nine points came from six kills, two aces and one block. Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) registered seven points on four kills and three blocks. Libero Tara Mueller (Scottsdale, Ariz.) led the defense with 10 digs that the offense converted into first-swing transition kills.
The starting lineup for the United States included setter Taylor Carico (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Engle at setter/opposite, middle blockers Jennifer Doris (Houston, Texas) and Zoe Garrett (Laguna Beach, Calif.), and outside hitters Klineman and Ward. At opposite Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) saw action in all four sets as she played front row for Carico.
Team USA jumped to a 7-6 lead early in the first set in front of 3,800 fans that nearly filled the Mall Convention Center Hall. Riding on the offense of Doris, the U.S. Junior Women extended the lead to 16-11. Germany fought back to 20-20 before the two teams exchanged the next four points, again tying the score at 22-22. The Germans rallied for a 27-25 come-from-behind win to take the opening set.
"I think that we stood a good chance to win the first set, but it just slipped through our fingers,” U.S. Head Coach Andy Banachowski said. “Both teams were nervous since this is the very first match of the tournament. We lost the first set just because we could not make it when we had two set points. Germany improved their tactics fast and came back stronger.”
The second set began much like the first with the U.S. Junior Women storming to an 18-9 advantage. Germany, struggling to find an answer to Team USA’s offense, never saw the lead as the United States sprinted to the finish, tying the match at one game a piece with a 25-14 victory.
Germany refocused between the second and third sets and returned to the court to stun Team USA with a 14-6 opening push. A 10-2 point-run brought the U.S. to within two at 16-14 before the Germans took off again, winning the rocky battle 25-18.
One game away from winning the match, Germany carried the momentum into the fourth set, serving its way to four unanswered points. Germany extended the lead to 13-7 before fairly even play by both sides brought the score to 23-17. The U.S. cut the lead in half, fighting to 21-24, but Germany's Karla Borger ended the game and the match with a kill in the 25-21 decision.
Klineman, Team USA’s captain who sparked her team's play in the second set victory, said nerves played a part in the team’s inconsistent play.
"I don't think our height advantage would be the important factor to win the second set,” she said. “We won the set because we improved our game, especially on the blocking and spiking. We also had a weak point on playing nervously. I hope my team will play more confidently and with more consistency in the next match.”
Pool play continues on Saturday (July 21) as the Americans face Egypt at 2 p.m. (3 a.m. EST). Egypt was swept by host Thailand on Friday (18-25, 23-25, 12-25).
The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team press kit is available at www.usavolleyball.org/highperformance/07wjntpresskit.pdf.
More information about the FIVB U-20 Junior World Championship, including live scores and photos, is available at www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/Junior/women/2007/General/index.asp?sm=12.