U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team Sweeps Puerto Rico in NORCECA Semifinals

July 09, 2008, 11:24 p.m. (ET)

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

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 9, 2008) – The U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team swept host Puerto Rico 25-20, 25-14, 25-20 on Wednesday evening during the semifinals of the NORCECA Girls’ Youth Continental Championship held in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.

Team USA will face Mexico in the gold-medal match on Thursday at 8 p.m. Mexico, also undefeated in the tournament, rallied to defeat Dominican Republic 20-25, 25-21, 25-19, 26-24 in tonight’s earlier semifinal.

Tori Dixon (Savage, Minn.) sparked the U.S. with a team-leading 13 points on the strength of eight kills on 13 errorless swings, a team-high four blocks and an ace. Jazmine Orozco (Lakewood, Calif.) tallied 11 points with nine kills on 13 errorless attacks to go with an ace and block. Erica Denney (Centennial, Colo.) contributed six kills, two aces and a block for nine points. Kelly Reeves (San Diego, Calif.), despite starting just one set, tacked on nine points all on kills. Carly Wopat (Goleta, Calif.) contributed five kills, two blocks and an ace for eight points. Ashley Wittman (Shakopee, Minn.) tacked on five kills and a block for six points. Carly Thomas (Swansea, Ill.) rounded out the scoring with three blocks and a kill to go with 11 assists and five digs. Jennifer Bonilla (Reseda, Calif.) recorded a match-high 11 digs to go with seven excellent service receptions on 12 attempts.

“The game was intense, especially with the home crowd from Puerto Rico,” Dixon said. “We worked well as a team and got the job done. It was awesome.”

“This was a very big win for Team USA,” U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team Assistant Coach Melissa Wolter said. “Puerto Rico has a great following of fans and looks to excite them with big plays. We did a great job of executing the game plan and had a couple of key players (Jazmine Orozco and Tori Dixon) really step up for us tonight.”

The U.S. started Thomas at setter, Denney and Dixon at middle blocker, Wopat at opposite and Wittman and Orozco at outside hitter. Bonilla is the designated Team USA libero for the tournament. Reeves came off the bench in the first two sets and started the third set in place of Wittman. Scullion was a subbed into the match in the opening set, while Lydia Bai (Tustin, Calif.) and Molly Krekloew (Hamlake, Minn.) were third-set replacements.

Team USA converted 50.6 percent of its attacks into kills while holding Puerto Rico to a 28.4 percent. The Americans held a 12-6 block advantage and a slim 5-4 margin in aces. However, the U.S. committed 14 service errors to the hosts’ five. As a team, the Americans posted 31 digs to the Puerto Ricans’ 22.

“It was definitely a tough match mentally,” Bonilla said. “However, we stayed focused within the group.”

Keila Rodriguez led Puerto Rico with nine points, all coming off kills. Neira Ortiz added seven points in the loss, followed by Ashley Vazquez’ six points.

Team USA advanced to the semifinals by winning the four-team Pool B with a 3-0 record without dropping a single set. It defeated Dominican Republic 25-22, 25-17, 25-15 on July 5, Trinidad & Tobago 25-8, 25-11, 25-8 on July 6 and U.S. Virgin Islands 25-7, 25-7, 25-7 on July 7. During pool play, the U.S. limited opponents to an average of 11.3 points per set.

2008 U.S. Girls' Youth National Team
# - Name (Pos., Ht, Hometown, Grad Year, Club, Region)
2 - Lydia Bai (Outside Hitter, 6-2, Tustin, Calif., 2010, TCA, Southern California)
3 - Jennifer Bonilla (Libero, 5-9, Reseda, Calif., 2010, SCVC, Southern California)
4 - Erica Denney (Middle Blocker, 6-5, Centennial, Colo., 2010, Front Range, Rocky Mountain)
5 - Tori Dixon (Middle Blocker, 6-3, Savage, Minn., 2010 Mizuno Northern Lights, North Country)
9 - Madelyn Hutson (Middle Blocker, 6-5, Brentwood, Tenn., 2011, Impact VB Club, Southern)
10 - Molly Kreklow (Setter, 6-0, Hamlake, Minn., 2010, Mizuno Northern Lights, North Country)
12 - Jazmine Orozco (Outside Hitter, 6-0, Lakewood, Calif., 2010, SCVC, Southern California)
14 - Kelly Reeves (Outside Hitter, Libero, 6-0, San Diego, Calif., 2010, Wave, Southern California)
15 - Amy Scullion (Outside Hitter, 6-0, Salem, Ohio, 2010, Tri-County, Ohio Valley)
16 - Carly Thomas (Setter, 5-11, Swansea, Ill., 2010, Southwest Illinois VBC, Gateway)
18 - Ashley Wittman (Outside Hitter, 6-1, Shakopee, Minn., 2010, Mizuno Northern Lights, North Country)
19 - Carly Wopat (Middle Blocker, 6-2, Goleta, Calif., 2010, Santa Barbara V-Ball Club, Southern California)
*Kristina Graven (Outside Hitter/Libero, 6-0, San Jose, Calif., 2010, Vision Volleyball Club, Northern California)

Head Coach: Jim Stone (Columbus, Ohio, retired Ohio State University women’s head coach)
Assistant Coach: Melissa Wolter (Pensacola, Fla., University of West Florida head women’s coach)
Assistant Coach: Neil Mason (Newport Coast, Calif., TCA director and head coach)

2008 NORCECA Girls’ Youth Continental Championship Schedule
July 5-10 at Guaynabo, Puerto Rico

Pool A
Mexico 2-0
Puerto Rico 1-1
Costa Rica 0-2

Pool B
USA 3-0
Dominican Republic 2-1
Trinidad & Tobago 1-2
U.S. Virgin Islands 0-3

Pool Matches
July 5: Trinidad & Tobago def. U.S. Virgin Islands, 21-25, 25-17, 25-13, 25-9
July 5: United States def. Dominican Republic, 25-22, 25-17, 25-15
July 5: Puerto Rico vs. Costa Rica, 25-20, 25-7, 25-22
July 6: United States def. Trinidad & Tobago, 25-8, 25-11, 25-8
July 6: Dominican Republic def. U.S. Virgin Islands, 25-6, 25-3, 25-9
July 6: Mexico def. Costa Mesa, 25-12, 25-9, 25-15
July 7: Dominican Republic def. Trinidad & Tobago, 25-3, 25-6, 25-7
July 7: United States def. U.S. Virgin Islands, 25-7, 25-7, 25-7
July 7: Mexico def. Puerto Rico, 25-15, 25-10, 18-25, 25-16

July 8: Dominican Republic (2B) def. Costa Rica (3A), 25-14, 25-15, 25-13 (Quarterfinals)
July 8: Puerto Rico (2A) vs. Trinidad & Tobago (3B), 8 p.m., 25-12, 25-12, 25-18 (Quarterfinals)

July 9: Costa Rica (3A) def. Trinidad & Tobago (3B), 25-13, 25-9, 25-16 (Classification for 5th Place)
July 9: Mexico (1A) def. Dominican Republic (2B), 20-25, 25-21, 25-19, 26-24 (Semifinal)
July 9: USA (1B) def. Puerto Rico (2A), 25-20, 25-14, 25-20 (Semifinal)

July 10: Trinidad & Tobago (3B) vs. U.S. Virgin Islands (4B), 2 p.m. (Classification 6-7)
July 10: Puerto Rico (2A) vs. Dominican Republic (2B), 4 p.m. (Bronze Medal Match)
July 10: USA (1B) vs. Mexico (1A), 8 p.m. (Gold Medal Match)