COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 10, 2010) - The U.S. Women's Junior National Team captured the gold medal by defeating the Dominican Republic in a straight set victory 25-22, 25-20, 25-20 on Saturday evening at the NORCECA Women's Junior (U-20) Continental Championship held in Tijuana, Mexico.
Team USA's win was its fourth consecutive gold medal at the biennial NORCECA Women's Junior Continental Championship, while the Dominican Republic Team has been the runner up in each of the four events. The U.S. team, with five members from the 2008 NORCECA Girls' Youth National defending champions, qualified for the 2011 FIVB World Championship (U-20) in Peru along with the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
In the first set, the U.S. did not lead until 14-13 and was in control at 22-15 lead, but the Dominican Republic battled back to make U.S.'s victory a less comfortable win, 25-22. In the second set, the U.S. started the set off a little stronger. Team USA took a lead at 7-6, though Dominican Republic continued to put up a challenge. However, the U.S maintained a lead for the rest of the set, resulting in a 25-20 victory. In the third set, the U.S. was behind most of the set. Trailing 16-19, Team USA won nine of the final 10 points to win the set and match at 25-20.
"I'm very proud of the team," U.S. Women's Junior National Team Head Coach Rob Browning said. "This was a very gratifying win against a very strong opponent. Our girls stayed very steady no matter the circumstances."
Kelly Reeves contributed 15 points on 14 kills and an ace, for Team USA. Jane Croson scored eight kills. Stephanie Holthus added seven tallies on six kills and a block. Carly Wopat and Haleigh Hampton each scored six points apiece. Wopat racked up her points with three kills, two blocks and an ace, while Hampton had five blocks and an ace. Liz McMahon added three points with two kills and a block. Molly Kreklow scored two points with two aces, and Carly Thomas also added an ace for Team USA's gold-medal win.
"We battled so hard for every point," Wopat said. "This was truly a team win."
Jennifer Bonilla contributed nine digs and six receptions for the U.S. team. Reeves added four digs and 11 receptions. Holthus added two digs and five receptions. Kreklow had 15 running sets and 68 total set attempts. Thomas added four running sets.
Team USA out-served their opponents with a 6-1 ratio. The U.S. team tied Dominican Republic with a 9-9 block ratio and gained a 12-point differential on opponent errors (27-15).
Croson received tournament honors and was named as Most Valuable Player and Best Attacker. Hampton also achieved Best Blocker of the tournament.
Browning started captain Carly Wopat (Goleta, Calif.) and Hampton (Huntington Beach, Calif.) at middle blocker, Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) at setter, Reeves (San Diego, Calif.) and Holthus (Elgin, Ill.) at outside hitter, and Croson (Lakewood, Calif.) as opposite. Bonilla (Reseda, Calif.) was the designated libero. McMahon (Liberty Township, Ohio) and Thomas subbed in all of the three sets. Samantha Wopat (Goleta, Calif.) came off the bench in the second and third set.
Dominican Republic's Ana Yorkira Binet recorded 14 points for the defeated side.
"It was a superb tournament and USA didn't lose a single set," Head Coach of Dominican Republic Wagner Pacheco said. "It was a good match but we failed some key points at the end of the sets. I am a little bit sad but also satisfied because we achieved the goal of winning a medal and reaching the World Championship."
Cuba won a bronzed medal by defeating Mexico, 25-20, 25-19, 25-21. In the fifth-place classification match on Saturday, Puerto Rico defeated Canada, 25-18, 26-24, 25-19. Others in the final ranking were Costa Rica in seventh, Trinidad & Tobago in eighth, El Salvador in ninth and Guadeloupe in 10th.
In the first set, the Americans were able to side-out immediately with a kill from Reeves. However, it was not until the Dominican Republic had the U.S. team down , 12-13 that Carly Wopat and McMahon helped Team USA take control with their blocks to gain momentum for a seven-point run making the score 17-13 in favor of the Americans. The U.S. took the lead for the rest of the first set, but the Dominican lessened the point gap by contributing a six point streak making the score a tight 25-22 victory for the U.S.
Going into the second set, Team USA started stronger than the first set, but still had to earn its set win. The U.S. team did not allow its opponents to lead the entire set, but Dominican kept the score close. Reeves contributed six kills to help the USA's offense stay effective resulting in a 25-20 victory. For the match-winning set, Dominican Republic and Team USA fought for every point.
The U.S. was down most of the set. However, when the U.S. team was down at 16-19, it stepped up its play to only allow their opponent one more point for the rest of the match, ending in a 25-20 and a gold medal for the U.S. Women's Junior National Team.
2010 U.S. Women's Junior National Training Team
Name (Position, Height, Hometown, HS Grad Year, Club/School, Region)
2 - Stephanie Holthus (Lib/OH, 6-0, Elgin, Ill., 2010, Fusion, Great Lakes)
3- Samantha Cash (MB, 6-3, San Diego, Calif., 2011, Coast, Southern California)
5 - Molly Kreklow (S, 6-0, Delano, Minn., 2010, University of Missouri)
6 - Haleigh Hampton (OPP/MB, 6-6, Huntington Beach, Calif., 2010, Cal Juniors, Southern California)
8 - Liz McMahon (OPP/MB, 6-6, Liberty Township, Ohio, 2011, Team Z, Ohio Valley)
9 - Kelly Reeves (OH, 6-0, San Diego, Calif., 2010, Encinitas WAVE, Southern California)
10 - Carly Thomas (S, 5-11, Swansea, Ill., 2010, Southwest Illinois Juniors, Gateway)
12 - Jennifer Bonilla (Lib, 5-9, Reseda, Calif., 2010, Sport Shack, Southern California)
14 - Jane Croson (OH, 6-0, Lakewood, Calif., 2011, Sport Shack, Southern California)
16 - Rachel Williams (OH, 6-0, Los Gatos, Calif., 2010, Vision, Northern California)
17 - Carly Wopat (MB, 6-2, Goleta, Calif,. 2010, Santa Barbara VBC, Southern California)
18 - Samantha Wopat (OH, 6-1, Goleta, Calif., 2010, Santa Barbara VBC, Southern California)