U.S. Women's U23 Team Set For Worlds

By Darci Miller | Oct. 04, 2013, 10:44 a.m. (ET)

U.S. Women's U23 World Championship team 
 The U.S. women's under-23 national team.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 4, 2013) – A young team led by a world-class coaching staff will represent the United States at the first-ever FIVB Volleyball Women’s Under-23 World Championship being held Oct. 5-12 in Tijuana and Mexicali, Mexico.

Leading the U.S. squad is head coach Karch Kiraly, who serves as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team (WNT) and is a three-time Olympic gold medalist (1984 and 1988 indoor, 1996 beach) as a player. Joining the staff as assistant coaches are Reed Sunahara and Joe Trinsey, who have been part of the WNT coaching staff this summer resulting in gold medals in the Pan American Cup and the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship as well as a sixth-place finish in the FIVB World Grand Prix.

“The main adjustment is that we’re trying to keep things a little simpler,” Kiraly said of coaching a younger team. “We’re still trying to teach the same principles, emphasizing to these athletes how important it is for the rest of their lives, in volleyball and out, just to be good learners, to learn how to learn.”

The 12-player roster includes middle blockers Erica Wilson (Oceanside, Calif.) and Sandra Adeleye (Katy, Texas), opposites Sha’Dare McNeal (San Diego, Calif.) and Monique Mead (Newnan, Ga.), setters Jordyn Poulter (Auroroa, Colo.) and Lauren Cook (Lincoln, Neb.), outside hitters Gina Mancuso (Omaha, Neb.), Ariel Turner (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Hayley Hodson (Newport Beach, Calif.), Tia Scambray (Monarch Beach, Calif.) and Lexi Sun (Solana Beach, Calif.), and libero Bojana Todorovic (Irvine, Calif.).

Because the under-23 age group is ideal for players currently committed to playing on collegiate teams, Kiraly focused on pre- and post-collegiate players when putting together the roster. Todorovic and McNeal won the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship with UCLA (2011) and Texas (2012), respectively, while others are All-Americans.

In addition, Hodson, Poulter and Scambray were on the U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team that competed in the 2013 FIVB Girls’ U18 World Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. That team made history as the first U.S. youth or junior team to take home a medal, as the GYNT earned silver.

“This is a great opportunity for some people who have shown some real promise to get exposure to the level just before senior national team, and to further ignite their passion and to further galvanize their hunger to continue their development,” Kiraly said. “And maybe someday they’ll be back in the USA gym.”

The team trained for a week at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim, Calif., which serves as the host city for the USA Women’s and Men’s National Volleyball Teams, before departing for Mexico. The 12-player roster trained with WNT members Lauren Paolini (Ann Arbor, Mich.), Cassidy Lichtman (Poway, Calif.), Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa) and Carli Lloyd (Bonsall, Calif.) at various times. Kiraly said that the U23 athletes got to pick the brains of the national team members, who got to act as their mentors for the week.

"It's been a wonderful opportunity for these athletes to get to play side-by-side and across the net from existing Senior National team players, to ask them questions, and to learn what kind of mindset and dedication it takes to earn the right to stay in the USA gym,” Kiraly said. “My goal is for our U23 group to embrace the principles of learning, of a growth mindset and of a stronger mental game - those should serve them well far, far beyond this tournament."

Group play for the FIVB Volleyball Women’s U23 World Championship will be held Oct. 5-9 in Tijuana and Mexicali, followed by playoff rounds Oct. 11-12 in Tijuana. The United States opens play on Oct. 5 against Kenya at 3 p.m. PT, followed by Cuba on Oct. 6 at 5 p.m. PT, Germany on Oct. 7 at 5 p.m. PT, China on Oct. 8 at 5 p.m. PT and Brazil on Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. PT. All Pool B matches will take place in the State Auditorium in Mexicali, Mexico.

The fifth and sixth-place teams in each pool will be eliminated and classified from positions nine through 12. On Oct. 11, the top two teams from each pool move on to the classification 1-4 semifinals, while third- and fourth-place pool finishers play in the classification 5-8 semifinals. The medal matches and final classification matches will take place on Oct. 12.

The U.S. is one of 12 countries participating in this inaugural event. The group includes two countries from each continent, the highest ranked country in the senior FIVB world rankings and the host country. Pool A consists of Italy, Turkey, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Mexico and Japan.

Team Roster

# - Name (Position, Hometown, Club)
1 – Sandra Adeleye (MB, Katy, Texas, Clemson University)
2 – Lauren Cook (S, Lincoln, Neb., Vaqueras de Bayamon)
4 – Hayley Hodson (OH, Newport Beach, Calif., T Street Volleyball Club)
5 – Monique Mead (Opp., Newnan, Ga., Telekom Baku)
6 – Jordyn Poulter (S, Aurora, Colo., Front Range Volleyball Club)
7 – Gina Mancuso (OH, Omaha, Neb., Leonas de Ponce)
8 – Ariel Turner (OH, Highlands Ranch, Colo., USGE Nantes)
9 – Bojana Todorovic (L, Irvine, Calif., UCLA)
10 – Erica Wilson (MB, Oceanside, Calif., Arizona State University)
11 – Lexi Sun (OH, Solana Beach, Calif., Coast Volleyball Club)
12 – Tiata Scambray (OH, Monarch Beach, Calif., T Street Volleyball Club)
14 – Sha’Dare McNeal (Opp., San Diego, Calif., Neruda Volksbank Bolzano)

2013 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U23 World Championship

Pool A (at Tijuana, Mexico – High Performance Center Gymnasium)
Oct. 5: Italy vs. Turkey, 3 p.m. PT
Oct. 5: Dominican Republic vs. Argentina, 5 p.m. PT
Oct. 5: Mexico vs. Japan, 8 p.m. PT
Oct. 6: Japan vs. Italy, 3 p.m. PT
Oct. 6: Turkey vs. Dominican Republic, 5 p.m. PT
Oct.6 : Mexico vs. Argentina, 7 p.m. PT
Oct 7: Argentina vs. Turkey, 3 p.m. PT
Oct. 7: Japan vs. Dominican Republic, 5 p.m. PT
Oct. 7: Mexico vs. Italy, 7 p.m. PT
Oct. 8: Argentina vs. Japan, 3 p.m. PT
Oct. 8: Dominican Republic vs. Italy, 5 p.m. PT
Oct. 8: Mexico vs. Turkey, 7 p.m. PT
Oct. 9: Italy vs. Argentina, 3 p.m. PT
Oct. 9: Turkey vs. Japan, 5 p.m. PT
Oct. 9: Mexico vs. Dominican Republic, 7 p.m. PT

Pool B (at Mexicali, Mexico – State Auditorium)
Oct. 5: United States vs. Kenya, 3 p.m. PT
Oct. 5: China vs. Germany, 5 p.m. PT
Oct. 5: Brazil vs. Cuba, 7 p.m. PT
Oct. 6: Kenya vs. Germany, 3 p.m. PT
Oct. 6: United States vs. Cuba, 5 p.m. PT
Oct. 6: Brazil vs. China, 7 p.m. PT
Oct. 7: Kenya vs. Brazil, 3 p.m. PT
Oct. 7: United States vs. Germany, 5 p.m. PT
Oct. 7: Cuba vs. China, 7 p.m. PT
Oct. 8: Cuba vs. Kenya, 3 p.m. PT
Oct. 8: United States vs. China, 5 p.m. PT
Oct. 8: Germany vs. Brazil, 7 p.m. PT
Oct. 9: China vs. Kenya, 3 p.m. PT
Oct. 9: Germany vs. Cuba, 5 p.m. PT
Oct. 9: United States vs. Brazil, 7 p.m. PT

In the gold-medal bracket (Classification 1-4), first-place teams in the two pools will play the second-place teams in the opposite pool. In the 5-8 classification, third-place pool teams will play the fourth-place pool team from the opposite pool.

Semifinal winners of Classification 1-4 will play for the gold medal, while the losers will play for the bronze medal. Semifinal winners in the Classification 5-8 bracket will play for fifth place, while the losers will play for seventh place.