U.S. Women's Junior Team Falls to Cuba at Worlds

July 17, 2009, 1:49 a.m. (ET)

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

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 16, 2009) – The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team started off the 2009 FIVB Women’s Junior World Championship (Under-20) with a 25-23, 23-25, 25-22, 25-11 loss to NORCECA-rival Cuba Thursday evening in Tijuana, Mexico.

Cuba used a 5-0 run in the first set to take a 15-13 advantage, then held off the U.S. to win 25-23 and taking advantage of nine American errors in the frame. Team USA rolled to a 9-3 advantage with some early blocks, but needed to use all 12 Cuban errors in the set to win 25-23 after it was all knotted at 23-all. Cuba broke a 10-all tie with a 4-1 run in the third set, then withstood a 4-0 run late by the U.S. to win 25-22. Cuba built a 6-0 lead in the fourth set and never looked back by clinching the match with a 25-11 victory.

Team USA returns to action on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. Pacific Time against Bulgaria, which dropped its opening Pool D match to Turkey 25-21, 19-25, 25-19, 25-10. The top two teams in each of the four-team pools advance to the winner’s pools in the second round.

“Cuba has improved a lot since the last time we faced them,” U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Paula Weishoff said. “It was a very close match and we kept fighting very hard. But they were too strong for us in the fourth set.”

Lilla Frederick (Huntington Beach, Calif.) led the U.S. squad with 10 points on nine kills and an ace. Amanda Dowdy (Lexington, Ky.) chipped in nine points with seven kills on 14 swings and two blocks, while Alex Hunt (Granger, Ind.) contributed eight kills and an ace for nine points. Alexis Olgard (Spokane, Wash.) matched Dowdy and Hunt with nine points coming from five kills and a team-high four blocks. Morgan Broekhuis (Colorado Springs, Colo.) chipped in four kills and two aces for six points. Ashleigh McCord (Wylie, Texas) added two kills and Kendall Bateman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) rounded out the scoring with a kill.

Hunt added a team-high nine digs and team-leading 37.5 excellent service reception percent. Kelsey Black (Amarillo) had a team-best 13 excellent service receptions, while Bateman had 32 assists in the match. Karissa Cook (Santa Cruz, Calif.) added seven assists in a substitute role in the first three sets.

Cuba out-scored the U.S. offensively with a 48-36 advantage in kills and 7-4 margin in aces. Both teams had six blocks in the match. Cuba won the match despite 34 errors as the Americans gave back a total of 37 points on their own miscues.

“We have been together for a few weeks,” Bateman said. “Both teams fought hard during the match and it was a pretty good one for the first three sets. In the fourth set we couldn’t stay with Cuba’s strong performance.”

The U.S. started captain Bateman at setter, Broekhuis at opposite, Dowdy and Olgard at middle blocker and Frederick and Hunt at outside hitter. Black was the designated libero for the match. Hayley Spelman (Las Vegas, Nev.) was a sub in all four sets, while Sara Shaw (Austin, Texas) subbed in the third set and started the fourth in place of Frederick. Karissa Cook (Santa Cruz, Calif.) was a reserve off the bench in the first three sets.

“We prepared our team for a good battle against a good team,” Cuba Head Coach Joel Olazabal said. “USA is a team that plays well organized in defense and blocking. The tournament is just starting and they have a good chance to improve. We wish them good luck.”

Cuba was led by Yoana Palacios Mendoza’s 19 points, while Yudith Pumariega de Leon added 13 points.

The U.S. qualified for the FIVB Women’s Junior World Championship by winning the 2008 NORCECA Women’s Junior Continental Championship in Mexico.

Team USA jumped to a 4-1 lead to start the first set, thanks to two Cuba errors and kills from Hunt and Dowdy. Cuba gained its first lead at 8-7 at the first technical timeout with a 4-1 spurt. However, USA picked up consecutive points out of the break with a Hunt kill and Cuba error to regain a 9-8 advantage. The Americans extended the lead to 11-9 with a Dowdy kill and Hunt ace. The U.S. extended its advantage to 13-10 after a Cuba error, only to have the Cubans bounce back with five unanswered points to assume a 15-13 advantage. Out of the second technical timeout, the U.S. scored three straight points to take a 17-16 lead as Frederick provided an ace and kill and Olgard put up a block. Cuba regained the lead at 22-21 and scored the final two points of the set for a 25-23 victory.

The U.S. scored the first four points of the second set on two Dowdy blocks and a kill around a Cuban error. Cuba cut the deficit in half at 4-2 with consecutive points. Back-to-back Cuban errors and a Frederick kill extended the U.S. lead to five points at 8-3 heading into the first technical timeout. Another Cuban error out of the break pushed the lead to 9-3. An Olgard block and Dowdy kill lifted the U.S. lead to 13-7, but Cuba answered with three consecutive points at 13-10. Trailing 16-12 at the second technical timeout, Cuba scored consecutive points to whittle the gap to 16-14. However, Olgard slammed a kill and Broekhuis served an ace to increase the lead back to four points at 18-14. Again, Cuba came back with three straight points to close to within one at 18-17. A Hunt kill and Cuban error extended the U.S. lead to 21-18 for a three-point cushion, but Cuba responded with consecutive points of its own at 21-20. Cuba tied the set at 23-all, but gave the U.S. its first set point at 24-23 on an error. Olgard’s second block of the set and fourth of the match ended the set at 25-23.

Early back-to-back Cuban errors in the third set gave the U.S. a 3-1 advantage, but Cuba responded with three straight points to take a 4-3 advantage. With the score tied at 10-all after the teams traded a handful of points, Cuba scored four of the next five points for a 15-11 advantage. Cuba extended its lead to six points at 19-13 with three quick points in a row. Three consecutive Frederick kills cut the deficit to three points at 20-17. However, Cuba scored consecutive points to increase the margin back to five points, 22-17. Broekhuis scored a kill and ace on consecutive plays followed by kills from Bateman and Hunt to slice the gap back to two points at 23-21. However, Cuba reached set point at 24-21 with two straight scores and went on to win 25-22.

Cuba built a 6-0 advantage to start the fourth set with two American errors. Cuba pushed the advantage to 10 points at 16-6 with four straight points going into the second technical timeout. After a McCord kill to stop the bleeding, Cuba scored six of the next eight points to establish a 22-8 margin.

U.S. Women’s Junior National Team
# - Name (Position, Height, Hometown, Region, Club or College, High School Grad Year)
1 - Kendall Bateman (S, 5-11, Manhattan Beach, Calif., SCVA, University of Southern California, 2008)
2 - Kelsey Black (OH/L, 6-0, Amarillo, Texas, Sun Country, Texas A&M, 2008)
3 - Morgan Broekhuis (OP/S, 6-6, Colorado Springs, Colo., Rocky Mountain, Colorado Juniors, 2010)
4 - Karissa Cook (S, 6-0, Santa Cruz, Calif., Northern Cal, Main Beach, 2009)
5 - Amanda Dowdy (MB, 6-3, Lexington, Texas, Lone Star, Texas Tech, 2008)
6 - Lilla Frederick (OH/L, 5-10, Huntington Beach, Calif., SCVA, Pepperdine, 2008)
7 - Alex Hunt (OH, 6-0, Granger, Ind., Hoosier, Michigan, 2008)
8 - Ashleigh McCord (OH, 6-1, Wylie, Texas, North Texas Region, Rice, 2008)
9 - Sarah Shaw (OH, 6-2, Austin, Texas, Lone Star, Austin Juniors, 2010)
10 – Alexis Olgard (MB, 6-6, Spokane, Wash., Evergreen, Spokane Splash, 2010)
11 - Hayley Spelman (OPP, 6-6, Las Vegas, Nev., SCVA, TCA, 2009)
12 - Mallory Woolridge (MB, 6-3, Henrico, Va., Old Dominion Region, USPAV, 2010)
Head Coach: Paula Weishoff (UC Irvine head coach)
Assistant Coach: John Corbelli (Texas A&M associate head coach)
Assistant Coach: Jim Stone (U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team head coach)
Team Leader: Denise Corlett (Stanford associate head coach)

FIVB Women’s Junior National Pool D Schedule/Results
July 16: Turkey def. Bulgaria 25-21, 19-25, 25-19, 25-10
July 16: Cuba def. USA 25-23, 23-25, 25-22, 25-11
July 17: USA vs. Bulgaria, 2 p.m.
July 17: Cuba vs. Turkey, 6 p.m.
July 18: Bulgaria vs. Cuba, 4 p.m.
July 18: USA vs. Turkey, 8 p.m.

Pool D Standings
Turkey 1-0
Cuba 1-0
USA 0-1
Bulgaria 0-1