U.S. Girls' Youth Team Participates in European Tour

Dec. 19, 2008, 1:43 p.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800
E-Mail: bill.kauffman@usav.org

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 19, 2008) - A U.S. Girls' Youth Team, in cooperation with Bring It Promotions, will compete at the 2008 MEVZA Youth Girls' Championship Dec. 27-30 at Pula, Croatia. In addition, USA Volleyball will host a 13-player training camp Dec. 26 to Jan. 4 at Chula Vista, Calif., with other top girls' youth-level athletes.

Although not the official U.S. Girls' Youth National Team, the 12-player roster playing in Croatia includes eight players who competed for the 2008 U.S. Girls' Youth National Team which captured the NORCECA Girls' Youth Continental Championship in Puerto Rico to qualify for the 2009 FIVB Girls' Youth World Championship.

Among the carryover players from this summer's U.S. Girls' Youth National Team are Jennifer Bonilla (Reseda, Calif.), Erica Denney (Centennial, Colo.), Tori Dixon (Savage, Minn.), Molly Kreklow (Hamlake, Minn.), Jazmine Orozco (Lakewood, Calif.), Amy Scullion (Salem, Ohio), Carly Thomas (Swansea, Ill.) and Ashley Wittman (Shakopee, Minn.).

The U.S. roster participating in Croatia is rounded out with Jane Croson (Lakewood, Calif.), Anna Dorn (Munster, Ind.), Adrienne Gehan (Dallas) and Stephanie Holthus (Elgin, Ill.). Dorn and Gehan were members of the U.S. Girls' Youth National Training Team in 2008, but did not make the 12-player roster which competed for the NORCECA Continental Championship.

All 12 players on the roster were born in either 1992 or 1993.

Orozco finished as the fourth-leading scorer at the NORCECA event with 53 points and was named the Best Spiker with a 52.6 kill percent. Dixon recorded 40 points in the NORCECA Championship for 13th in scoring. Wittman and Denney finished 19th and 20th in scoring, respectively. Wittman also averaged 0.60 aces per set at NORCECA for fourth best to go with 0.53 blocks per set for 5th place. Thomas was named the Best Setter at the NORCECA Championship, while Kreklow finished fifth in the category. Bonilla earned the Best Libero honor with a 61.8 success rate passing, along with finishing third in Best Digger with 4.33 digs per set.

As with the team which qualified for the 2009 FIVB World Championship, Jim Stone (Columbus, Ohio) will serve as the head coach for this European Tour opportunity. In addition, Melissa Wolter (Pensacola, Fla.) returns as the assistant coach.

Countries participating in the seven-team event include host Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Israel, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States. Group play will be three sets to 25 points. Group standings will be determined by the ratio of sets won to sets lost. The top two teams from each group will crossover to play for the overall top four positions. The bottom team from Pool A and the bottom two teams from Pool B will play each other to determine positions five through seven. All matches after group play will be best three-of-five sets.

The U.S. squad plays its first match against Israel on Dec. 28 at 4 p.m. local time, followed by Croatia at 8:30 p.m. the same day. Crossover pool matches begin on Dec. 29 with the championship match played on Dec. 30.

The USA Volleyball High Performance Training Volleyball Camp at Chula Vista will be led by TCA Head Coach Neil Mason (Newport Coast, Calif.). He will be assisted by Blaine Tendler (Burlington, N.C.), Abbey Masters (Murrieta, Calif.) and Manny Johnson (Napa, Calif.).

Youth players training in Chula Vista include Hannah Allison (Siloam Springs), Haley Eckerman (Waterloo, Iowa), Haleigh Hampton (Canyon Lake, Calif.), Madelyn Hutson (Brentwood, Tenn.), Haley Lawless (Tempe, Ariz.), Gabriella Lutjen (Smithtown, N.Y.), Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.), Lauren Metzger (North Tonawanda, N.Y.), Julie Olschwanger (Dallas), Lauren Plum (Poway, Calif.), Kelly Reeves (San Diego), Kylann Scheidt (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Ariel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.). Hutson and Reeves competed on the 2008 U.S. Girls' Youth National Team at the NORCECA Championship.

"We offered to the top youth players of 2008 an invitation to these two unique training opportunities, one group facing international competition and the other intensive court training," USA Volleyball Coordinator of High Performance Programs Heath Hoke said. "Both groups are led by our 2008 U.S. Girls' Youth National Team staff, and both groups are expected to challenge for roster spots in 2009. Like every USA Volleyball High Performance program, athletes from across the country will have to tryout in order to be considered for any of the 2009 programs, including our national teams.

"Since 2008 had no training time for the U.S. Girls' Youth National Team, we sought out these two training opportunities in hopes to have a stronger field to select from for the 2009 U.S. Girls' Youth National Team competing in the 2009 FIVB World Championship," Hoke added. "Along with these two training groups, USA Volleyball High Performance is excited to have Tom Hogan (U.S. Women's National Team assistant coach) leading our Girls' Youth holiday camp in Pomona, Calif., later this month, which will further strengthen the depth of our youth age group. We feel all three programs will result in a very competitive 2009 tryout season."

U.S. Girls' Youth Team Roster for the MEVZA Tournament

# - Name (Hometown, Position, Club, Region)
2 - Stephanie Holthus (Elgin, Ill., Libero/Outside Hitter, Fusion, Great Lakes)
3 - Jennifer Bonilla (Reseda, Calif., Libero, SCVC, SCVA)
4 - Erica Denney (Centennial, Colo., Middle Blocker, Front Range, Rocky Mountain)
5 - Tori Dixon (Savage, Minn., Middle Blocker, Northern Lights, North Country)
6 - Anna Dorn (Munster, Ind., Middle Blocker, Dunes, Hoosier)
7 - Adrienne Gehan (Dallas, Texas, Outside Hitter, Skyline Juniors, North Texas)
13 - Molly Kreklow (Hamlake, Minn., Setter, Mizuno Northern Lights, North County)
14 - Jane Croson (Lakewood, Calif., Outside Hitter, Cal Juniors, SCVA)
15 - Amy Scullion (Salem, Ohio, Outside Hitter, Tri-County, Ohio Valley)
16 - Carly Thomas (Swansea, Ill., Setter, Southwest Illinois VBC, Gateway)
17 - Jazmine Orozco (Lakewood, Calif., Outside Hitter, SCVC, SCVA)
18 - Ashley Wittman (Shakopee, Minn., Outside Hitter, Mizuno Northern Lights, North Country)

Head Coach: Jim Stone (Columbus, Ohio, retired Ohio State Women's Head Coach)
Assistant Coach: Melissa Wolter (Pensacola, Fla., University of West Florida Head Coach)
Stats: Herb Summers (Burbank, Calif.)

MEVZA Tournament Competition Schedule

Dec. 28
Slovenia vs. Austria, 10 a.m.
Slovakia vs. Hungary, 10 a.m.
Croatia vs. Israel, noon
Hungary vs. Slovenia, 4 p.m.
Israel vs. USA, 4 p.m.
Austria vs. Slovakia, 6 p.m.
USA vs. Croatia, 8:30 p.m.

Dec. 29
Slovakia vs. Slovenia, 10 a.m.
Austria vs. Hungary, 10 a.m.
3a vs. 3b, 2:30 p.m.
1a vs. 2b, 5 p.m.
1b vs. 2a, 5 p.m.

Dec. 30
3a vs. 4b, 10 a.m.
3rd place match, 10 a.m.
3b vs. 4b, 12:30 p.m.
Championship match, 12:30 p.m.

2008 USA Volleyball Chula Vista Holiday Camp
Dec. 26, 2008 to Jan. 4, 2009
Chula Vista, Calif.

Name (Hometown, Position, Club, Region)
Hannah Allison (Siloam Springs, Ark., Setter, Ozark Volleyball Club, Delta)
Haley Eckerman (Waterloo, Iowa, Outside Hitter, Iowa Elite, Iowa)
Haleigh Hampton (Canyon Lake, Calif., Middle Blocker, Temecula Valley Vipers, SCVA)
Madelyn Hutson (Brentwood, Tenn., Middle Blocker, Impact Volleyball Club, Southern)
Haley Lawless (Tempe, Ariz., Outside Hitter, Arizona East Valley Juniors, Arizona)
Gabriella Lutjen (Smithtown, N.Y., Middle Blocker, The Island Volleyball Academy, Garden Empire)
Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky., Outside Hitter, Asics KIVA, Pioneer)
Lauren Metzger (North Tonawanda, N.Y., Libero, Niagara Frontier Volleyball, Western Empire)
Julie Olschwanger (Dallas, Texas, Libero, Texas Advantage Volleyball, North Texas)
Lauren Plum (Poway, Calif., Setter, Epic, SCVC)
Kelly Reeves (San Diego, Calif., Outside Hitter, Wave, SCVA)
Kylann Scheidt (Knoxville, Tenn., Setter, Smoky Mountain Juniors, Southern Region)
Ariel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J., Middle Blocker, Allegro, Garden Empire)

Head Coach: Neil Mason (Newport Coast, Calif., TCA Volleyball Club)
Assistant Coach: Blaine Tendler (Burlington, N.C., Piedmont-Triad Volleyball Club)
Assistant Coach: Abbey Masters (Murrieta, Calif., Top Gun Volleyball Club)
Assistant Coach: Manny Johnson (Napa, Calif., TCA Volleyball Club)