COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 25, 2012)- The U.S. Women’s Junior National Volleyball Team fell to the Dominican Republic 22-25, 13-25, 25-21, 25-22, 15-10 in a heart-breaking five-set semifinal in the NORCECA Women’s Junior (U-20) Continental Championship Saturday evening in Managua, Nicaragua.
The American, who had won the biennial event in the last four editions (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010), will face Costa Rica in Sunday’s bronze-medal match at 5 p.m. MT. A U.S. victory over Costa Rica would clinch a berth into the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Junior World Championship as the top three teams in NORCECA advance.
Team USA fell to an early 8-5 deficit in set one before rallying to claim the 25-22 victory as five Americans scored during the set. The U.S. got off to a better start in set two, taking a 4-1 advantage. Team USA maintained its lead behind balanced offense featuring four players with seven points and concluded the set at 25-13. The Dominican Republic took the 8-6 lead early in set three, but a persistent U.S. team battled back to claim the lead at 18-17. Despite a strong blocking performance, Team USA could not fend off the Dominicans and dropped set three 25-21. In set four, the U.S. fell to an early 14-11 disadvantage. The Americans tied things up at 15-15 before allowing a Dominican run and lost the set at 25-22. In set five, Team USA kept things close, earning a tied score at 4-4. Dominican pulled away and took a 9-6 advantage before clinching the match victory at 15-10 with the final three points.
Amber Rolfzen (Papillion, Neb.) led team USA with 18 points on 15 kills, two aces and one block. Her twin sister Kadie tallied 16 points on 14 kills and two blocks. Haleigh Washington (Idaho Springs, Colo.) contributed 13 points on nine kills, three blocks and one ace. McKenzie Willey (Highland, Utah) added seven points on six kills and one block while Merete Lutz (Houston, Texas) added six points on four kills and two blocks. Azariah Stahl (Elkhart, Ind.) chipped in four points on two kills and two blocks.Kelsey Humphreys (Newport Beach, Calif.) added three points on one kill, one block and one ace. Haley Fauntleroy (Winnetka, Ill.) contributed two points on one kill and one block.
Amanda Benson (Litchfield, Ariz.) led Team USA’s defensive effort and was designated libero for the match.
Team USA out-spiked the Dominican Republic 52-46, but was out-blocked (17-13) and out-served (6-4). The U.S. forced its opponent to commit 34 errors while committing 31 of its own. Eight U.S players tallied at least one block and one kill during the match, while three players contributed at least one ace.
In the first set, U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Head Coach Rod Wilde started Humphreys at setter, Washington and Lutz at middle blocker, the Rolfzen sisters and Willey on the outside and Benson at libero.
In set two, Wilde started Humphreys at setter, Washington and Lutz at middle blocker, the Rolfzen sisters and Willey on the outside and Benson at libero.
In set three, Wilde started Humphreys at setter, Washington and Lutz at middle blocker, the Rolfzen sisters and Willey at outside and Benson at libero. Stahl and Fauntleroy subbed into the set.
In the fourth and fifth sets, Wilde started Humphreys at setter, Washington and Fauntleroy in the middle, the Rolfzen sisters and Stahl on the outside and Benson at libero. Willey was a sub in the fourth set.
Dominican Republic was led by Brayelin Martinez’s match-high 29 points.
2012 U.S. Women’s Junior National Volleyball Team Roster
# - Name (Position, Hometown, Grad Year, Club, Region)
2 - McKenzie Willey (OH, Highland, Utah, 2013, Club Utah, Intermountain)
3 - Kelly Hunter (S, Papillion, Neb., 2013, Nebraska Juniors, Great Plains)
7 - Merete Lutz (MB, Houston, Texas, 2013, Southwest Juniors, Lone Star)
8 - Kelsey Humphreys (S, Newport Beach, Calif., 2013, Laguna Beach, Southern California)
10 - Amanda Benson (L, Litchfield, Ariz., 2013, Club Red, Arizona)
11 - Haleigh Washington (MB, Idaho Springs, Colo., 2014, Colorado Juniors, Rocky Mountain)
12 - Kayla Morin (OH, Portage, Mich., 2014, Dead Frog, Lakeshore)
13 - Maya McClendon (OH, Louisville, Ky., 2013, KIVA, Pioneer)
14 - Haley Fauntleroy (MB, Winnetka, Ill., 2014, Wildcat Juniors, Great Lakes)
15 - Amber Rolfzen (OH, Papillion, Neb., 2013, Nebraska Juniors, Great Plains)
16 - Kadie Rolfzen (OH, Papillion, Neb., 2013, Nebraska Juniors, Great Plains)
19 - Azariah Stahl (OH, Elkhart, Ind., 2014, Circle City, Hoosier)
Head Coach: Rod Wilde
Assistant Coach: Charlene Whitted
Assistant Coach: Blaine Tendler
Team Leader: Alex Dunphy
2012 NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship
Aug. 21: Costa Rica def. Antigua & Barbuda 25-9, 25-9, 25-7
Aug. 22: Nicaragua def. Antigua & Barbuda 25-12, 25-13, 25-12
Aug. 23: Nicaragua vs. Costa Rica 25-20, 25-23, 25-14
Aug. 21: Mexico def. Guatemala 25-11, 25-11, 25-3
Aug. 22: Dominican Republic def. Guatemala 25-7, 25-3, 25-13
Aug. 23: Dominican Republic def. Mexico 25-20, 21-25, 25-16, 27-25
Aug. 21: United States def. Trinidad & Tobago 25-10, 25-10, 25-8
Aug. 22: Cuba def. Trinidad & Tobago 25-13, 25-8, 25-14
Aug. 23: United States def. Cuba 19-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-16
Aug. 24: Guatemala def. Antigua & Barbuda 25-8, 25-8, 25-13
Aug. 24: Mexico def. Cuba 25-15, 25-19, 21-25, 14-25, 15-12
Aug. 24: USA def. Nicaragua 25-10, 25-6, 25-7
Aug. 25:Guatemala def. Trinidad & Tobago 25-7, 25-16, 25-7
Aug. 25: Dominican Republic def. USA 22-25, 13-25, 25-21, 25-22, 15-10
Aug. 25: Mexico def. Costa Rica 25-16, 25-19, 25-19
Aug. 26: Cuba vs. Nicaragua, 3 p.m. (5th Place)
Aug. 26: USA vs. Costa Rica, 5 p.m. (bronze)
Aug. 26: Dominican Republic vs. Mexico, 7 p.m. (gold)