COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 31, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team evened its Pan American Cup record to 1-1 in Pool A with a 25-20, 25-10, 27-25 victory over Costa Rica Saturday afternoon at Mexicali, Mexico.
All 12 American players competed in the match starting at least one set or was the designated libero. All but two players recorded at least one point in the victory.
Costa Rica jumped to a 11-7 lead in the opening set, but the U.S. outscored its opponent 7-3 down the stretch to complete the 25-20 comeback. Team USA never trailed in the second set and scored 17 of the last 22 points for a 25-10 victory. Costa Rica led 16-11 in the third set, but the U.S. used a 6-0 run to get back into the set and eventually won 27-25 after saving three set points.
"Our goal is to improve with every match and to finish among the top four," said Tom Hogan, the U.S. Women's National Team head coach for the Pan American Cup. "After the heartbreaking loss to Dominican Republic last night, I feel satisfied with this victory."
The U.S. continues pool play on Sunday against Argentina at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. The tournament field of 12 teams is broken into two pools of six teams. Pool play consists of five matches in five days. The winner of each pool advances directly to the semifinal round on June 6. The second- and third-place finishers in each pool will have crossover quarterfinal matches on June 5 to determine semifinal opponents for the pool winners.
Team USA started captain Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) at setter, Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) and Kristin Richards (Orem, Utah) at outside hitter, Tracy Stalls (Denver) and Alexis Crimes (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) at middle blocker, Heather Hughes (Fallbrook, Calif.) at opposite and Stacy Sykora (Burleson, Texas) at libero. Lindsey Hunter (Papillion, Neb.) set the team in the third set, while Juliann Faucette (San Diego), Katie Olsovsky (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) and Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich.) also started the final frame at outside hitter, opposite and middle blocker, respectively. Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) started the second set at opposite and was a sub in the first and third sets.
Crimes led the U.S. with 12 points by tallying nine kills on 12 swings to go with two blocks and an ace. Barboza chipped in 10 points, all on kills off 17 errorless attacks. She added a 57 excellent serve reception percent on 23 chances. Stalls produced four kills on eight errorless attacks to go with two blocks for six points. McGinnis was credited with four kills on as many attacks in addition to two blocks. Richards tacked on five kills in just two sets of action. With only one set start, Klineman each managed four points. Paolini recorded three kills on five errorless swings in the third set. Olsovsky tallied a kill and ace in the final set. Faucette rounded out the scoring with a kill. Sykora recorded 17 service receptions without an error and tallying an 88 positive receive percent.
Karen Cope led Costa Rica with 11 points with nine kills and two aces. Verania Willis added five points in the loss, but committed 12 attack errors on 19 swings.
Team USA converted 54 percent of its attacks into kills and held a 44-23 advantage in kills for the match. The U.S. out-blocked Costa Rica 7-1. Costa Rica converted just 38 percent of its attacks into kills and committed 23 hitting errors. However, Costa Rica held advantages at the service line with a 4-2 ace margin and committed just five service errors to Team USA’s 13.
The Pan American Cup will yield four berths into the 2009 World Grand Prix. The top three teams from NORCECA and the top South American team will advance to next year’s annual FIVB tournament.
The United States is ranked fourth in the FIVB world ranking. However, Team USA is using a young team at the Pan American Cup to evaluate individuals for potential Olympic roster spots in 2008, as well for future teams in the next quadrennial beyond the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Costa Rica gained the first two-point cushion of the opening set at 7-5, but McGinnis scored on a setter dump and the U.S. tied the score at 7-all. Costa Rica answered with four unanswered points to take an 11-7 advantage. Barboza collected back-to-back points after a Crimes kill and Costa Rican error to knot the score at 11-all. After Costa Rica pushed its lead to 14-12, McGinnis tallied a block and kill during a 3-0 U.S. run to swing the advantage to the Americans at 15-14. McGinnis added her second block of the set at 18-16. Crimes and Hughes put down kills around a Costa Rican error as part of a 3-0 run giving the U.S. a 21-17 advantage. Costa Rica cut the gap in half at 22-20, only to have Crimes slam a quick attack followed by two Costa Rican errors to end the set at 25-20.
Richards scored all five of her points in the second set, including three early kills to lift the U.S. into an 8-4 advantage at the first technical timeout. Team USA used a 3-0 run with two kills from Crimes and another from Klineman to expand the lead to seven points, 11-5. McGinnis, Barboza, Richards and Crimes all scored point during a 6-1 run that extended the American lead to 17-7. Crimes served an ace during another 3-0 run to set the score at 20-8. Stalls put down two kills and McGinnis the final tally of the second set as a part of a 5-1 spurt ending the frame at 25-10. The U.S. tallied 15 kills on 21 swings in the second set with just two errors. The Americans also added three of their seven blocks in the period.
Costa Rica jumped out to a 15-10 lead in the third set and led 16-11 before the U.S. got back into the match. Hughes started a 6-0 run with a kill, followed by three Costa Rica errors and kills from Barboza and Stalls to give the Americans a 17-16 lead. The advantage was short-lived as Costa Rica scored consecutive points for a 18-17 lead. Stalls and Barboza answered with kills to yield a 19-18 lead to the Americans. Costa Rica regained the momentum with a 5-1 run to take a 23-20 advantage. Olsovsky broke the streak with a kill, followed by a Costa Rica error to close the gap to 23-22. Cope scored a kill to provide Costa Rica with two set points at 24-22. Paolini saved the first set point with a kill and the scored became tied at 24-all on another Costa Rica error. Willis provided Costa Rica with a third set point attempt at 25-24 with a kill. However, the service game aided the American comeback as it tied the set with a Costa Rica service error and Olsovsky jumped served an ace to give the Americans a set point at 26-25. The U.S. closed out the set at 27-25 on a Costa Rica error.