U.S. Girls’ Youth Team Falls in MEZVA Semifinal

Dec. 29, 2008, 8:41 p.m. (ET)

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

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 29, 2008) - A U.S. Girls' Youth Team, in cooperation with Bring It Promotions, dropped its first match of the MEZVA Tournament, a heart-breaking 25-21, 20-25, 26-24, 17-25, 15-12 setback to Slovakia in the semifinal round on Dec. 29 at Pula, Croatia.

The U.S. will face host Croatia on Dec. 30 at 10:30 a.m. local time in the third-place match.

Ashley Wittman (Shakopee, Minn.) and Tori Dixon (Savage, Minn.), both members of Mizuno Northern Lights, paced the Americans. Wittman scored 23 points via 21 kills on 50 attacks and two aces. Dixon contributed 13 kills, a team-high five blocks and three aces for 21 points. Jazmine Orozco (Lakewood, Calif.), a member of SCVC, notched 14 points in the loss with 11 kills on 23 swings and three blocks.

Erica Denney (Centennial, Colo.), a member of Front Range Volleyball Club, totaled 10 points with a team-high five aces to go with five kills on 11 attacks. Stephanie Holthus (Elgin, Ill.) from Fusion chipped in four kills and a three aces for seven points.

Carly Thomas (Swansea, Ill.) from Southwest Illinois Volleyball Club added four points, while Molly Kreklow (Hamlake, Minn.) from Mizuno Northern Lights tapped in two points as the two players alternated set starts at setter. Anna Dorn (Munster, Ind., Dunes) and Amy Scullion (Salem, Ohio, Tri-County) rounded out the scoring with one point apiece. Jennifer Bonilla (Reseda, Calif.), the U.S. libero for the tournament and hailing from SCVC, handled 37 of the Americans' 91 service receptions with a 41 positive percent.

Orozco and Wittman started all five sets at outside hitter, while Dixon started all five sets at middle blocker. Thomas started the first, third and fifth sets at setter, while Kreklow started the second and fourth sets and subbed into the match in the tiebreaker. Denney started all but the second set at middle blocker, while Scullion started the second set. Holthus played all five sets, starting the final two. Jane Croson (Lakewood, Calif.) started the first and third sets, while Dorn started the second set.

Slovakia held a 17-12 block advantage for the match, while the U.S. out-served the victors 13-11 in aces. The Americans converted 39 percent of their attacks into kills, while Slovakia was held to a 32 percent conversion.

In the fifth and deciding set, Slovakia totaled three blocks and three aces, while passing at a 92 positive percent.

Team USA opened the tournament with a 25-23, 25-22, 25-17 victory over Israel, followed by a 25-21, 25-18, 28-26 victory over Croatia. The U.S. finished group A with a 2-0 record and 6-0 set score record.

For additional information on the two victories, including player journals, visit the Bring It Promotions Web site.

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 Championship in Puerto Rico to qualify for the 2009 FIVB Girls' Youth World Championship. All 12 players on the roster were born in either 1992 or 1993.

U.S. Girls' Youth Team Roster for the MEZVA 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 Country)
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.)