U.S. Girls’ Youth Team Golden at NORCECA Continental Championship

July 10, 2008, 9:28 p.m. (ET)

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

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 10, 2008) – The U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team swept Mexico 25-17, 25-14, 25-20 in the gold-medal match of the NORCECA Girls’ Youth Continental Championship held Thursday evening at Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.

With the victory, Team USA will be considered among the top teams qualified for the 2009 FIVB World Championships to be held Aug. 5-16, 2009, in India. The NORCECA Continental Championship, held every other year, qualifies the top three teams to next year’s World Championship.

“This team was a wonderful group of athletes to work with and I’m very happy for them that they have qualified for the World Championships next year,” U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team Head Coach Jim Stone said. “Even in the short practice time, I felt they improved both individually and as a team. I am hopeful we can keep the group together and add additional good players in the upcoming year to form a good training team for the World Championships.”

The U.S. has won the past four NORCECA Girls’ Youth Continental Championship events (2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008). In addition, Team USA has won six of the seven NORCECA Girls' Youth Continental Championships and advanced to every FIVB World Championship since 1996.

Team USA used a balanced scoring offense with five players scoring between 10 and eight points. Tori Dixon (Savage, Minn.) and Ashley Wittman (Shakopee, Minn.), both members of Mizuno Northern Lights club team, recorded matching highs of 10 points. Dixon reached double-digit points with seven kills on 15 errorless attacks, two blocks and an ace. Wittman contributed seven kills and three blocks in the victory. Erica Denney (Centennial, Colo.) provided a match-high five blocks, three kills and an ace. Jazmine Orozco (Lakewood, Calif.) charted six kills, two blocks and an ace for Team USA. She added a team-leading nine excellent service receptions on 22 attempts.

“I’m extremely impressed with our team!” Orozco said. “Not only did we achieve our goal, but all 12 of us were a part of it.”

Kelly Reeves (San Diego) recorded six kills, a block and an ace for eight U.S. points. Carly Wopat (Goleta, Calif.) added five kills, two blocks and an ace in the victory. Carly Thomas (Swansea, Ill.) rounded out the scoring with three kills to go with seven assists and 10 digs. Jennifer Bonilla (Reseda, Calif.) recorded a match-high 25 digs.

The U.S. started Wittman and Orozco at outside hitter, Denney and Dixon at middle blocker, Wopat at opposite and Thomas at setter. Bonilla is the designated Team USA libero for the tournament. Reeves came off the bench in the second set and started the third set in place of Wittman. Amy Scullion (Salem, Ohio) was a substitute in the second set.

“I’m really excited about how well we represented the United States,” Thomas said. “I look forward to our teammates from Atlanta and the U.S. Girls Youth A2 rejoining us as we prepare for the World Championships.”

Orozco earned the Best Spiker award as she converted 52.6 percent of her attacks into kills. Thomas was named the Best Setter with 2.87 assists per set, while Bonilla earned the Best Libero honor with a 61.8 success percentage. Mexico’s Andrea Rangel was selected as the Most Valuable Player.

The U.S. held a 15-3 advantage in blocks over the Mexico team, while also leading the back-row defense with a 55-43 dig margin. Team USA converted 38 of its 100 attacks for a 38.0 kill percent, while Mexico was held to a 20.0 kill percent on 100 swings. The Americans also enjoyed a 4-1 service ace lead.

The U.S. started the first set with an 8-5 lead, but jumped it quickly to 19-10 on an 11-5 spurt. Mexico would close to within seven, but Team USA held off the challenge for a 25-17 victory. The Americans built a 16-11 advantage in the second set, then blistered its way through to a 25-14 victory with a 9-3 run. The final set remained close the entire way as Team USA held a slim 16-14 advantage at the second technical timeout. After a Mexico error increased the U.S. lead to 20-17, the American finished off the set with a 5-3 run.

“As one of the 12 not in the starting lineup, it was still an awesome experience I’ll be able to take with me into the next year leading up to the World Championships,” Madelyn Hutson (Brentwood, Tenn.) said. “We have become a very tight-knit group and cheering for the six girls on the court was as thrilling to me as making every dig, set and kill myself.”

Mexico’s Andrea Rangel led her team with 10 points via eight kills and two blocks. Samantha Bricio added seven kills in the loss.

In other matches today, Trinidad & Tobago defeated U.S. Virgin Islands 25-17, 25-21, 17-25, 25-20 for sixth place. Dominican Republic won the bronze by defeating host Puerto Rico 25-12, 22-25, 25-14, 25-23.

Team USA advanced to the championship match by defeating host Puerto Rico 25-20, 25-14, 25-20 in the semifinals on Wednesday night. The U.S. won its four-team pool 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)

* NOTE: Kristina Graven was originally selected for the 12-player U.S. Girls' Youth National Team roster, but withdrew due to injury.

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) def. U.S. Virgin Islands (4B), 25-17, 25-21, 17-25, 25-20 (Classification 6-7)
July 10: Dominican Republic (2B) def. Puerto Rico (2A), 25-12, 22-25, 25-14, 25-23 (Bronze Medal Match)
July 10: USA (1B) def. Mexico (1A), 25-17, 25-14, 25-20 (Gold Medal Match)