Women's U23 Lose First Match at Worlds

By Bill Kauffman | Oct. 08, 2013, 8:30 p.m. (ET)

Sha'Dare McNeal hits past China's block in the FIVB Volleyball Women's U23 World Championship

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 8, 2013) – The U.S. Women’s U23 National Volleyball Team lost for the first time at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s U23 World Championship, but put up a valiant fight in a five-set 25-15, 18-25, 14-25, 25-19, 15-5 contest to undefeated China on Tuesday evening at Mexicali, Mexico.

The U.S., now 3-1 with nine points for third place, concludes Pool B against second-place Brazil (3-1, nine points) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. PT. The winner will advance to the gold-medal round semifinals on Oct. 11. The loser will fall into the 5-8 classification semifinals on Oct. 11.

“Congratulations to China,” Team USA Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “It was a great battle with ups and downs, but China played down the stretch and got the points. Now we have to prepare against Brazil.”

U.S. captain Gina Mancuso (Omaha, Neb.) paced the Americans with 25 points, which included 20 kills, three aces and two blocks. Hayley Hodson (Newport Beach, Calif.) contributed 11 points with seven kills and four blocks. Tia Scambray (Monarch Beach, Calif.) tallied six kills and two blocks for eight points. Both Hodson and Scambray were members of the U.S. Girls’ Youth U-18 National Volleyball Team that captured the FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship silver medal this past summer.

Monique Mead (Newnan, Ga.) contributed six points as a reserve for the Americans, while Sha’Dare McNeal (San Diego) tacked on five points. Ariel Turner (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) picked up four points, while both Erica Wilson (Oceanside, Calif.) and Lauren Cook (Lincoln, Neb.) pocketed three points apiece.

Bojana Todorovic (Irvine, Calif.) produced a team-high nine digs, while Mancuso added eight digs and a team-leading 11 excellent receptions on 35 attempts. Cook was credited with 14 running sets and Jordyn Poulter (Aurora, Colo.) added five running sets. Team USA held a 37.0 kill percent with a .237 hitting efficiency (50-18-135).

China held an 8-4 advantage in aces and a slim 12-11 margin in blocks to go with a 56-50 lead in kills. The Chinese held a .273 hitting efficiency (56-18-139) resulting in a 40.3 kill percent for the match. Team USA held a 26-20 advantage in digs.

Yanhan Liu led China with 24 points including five aces and four blocks, while Qi Wang chipped in 18 points and Zhou Yang produced 15 points. Xinwei Gu reached a dozen points in the match.

In the opening set, China bolted to a 14-3 advantage. After the initial run, the U.S. held firm and closed the gap to within six at 19-13. However, China closed out the set with a 6-2 run for a 25-15 victory.

The Americans used a 10-3 run in the second set to establish a 14-9 advantage thanks to Mancuso scoring five kills and two aces in the spurt. After China closed the deficit to 14-12, the U.S. answered with a 5-1 run to increase the lead to 19-13 and closed out the set with a 25-18 victory.

The U.S. scored seven of eight points to build a 9-4 lead in the third set as Scambray kicked the run in gear with a kill and block. The Americans did not allow China to get much momentum in the third set in closing out the frame 25-14.

China answered quickly in the fourth set with six unanswered points to reach the first technical timeout leading 8-3. The U.S. crawled back into contention at 19-17, but three quick points by the Chinese extended their margin back to five points at 22-17.

The fifth set was all China from the start with the first three points. After leading 6-3, China put its stamp on the set with a 6-0 run for a 12-3 advantage en route to a 15-5 victory. China scored five blocks and two aces in the fifth set.

Kiraly started Wilson and McNeal at middle blocker, Mancuso and Turner at outside hitter, Hodson at opposite and Cook at setter. Todorovic is the team’s libero for tournament. Scambray came off the bench in the first set and started the final four sets in place of Turner. Mead subbed into the match in all five sets, while Lexi Sun (Solana Beach, Calif.) was a reserve in the final four sets. Jordyn Poulter (Aurora, Colo.) was a reserve in the first four sets.

For more information about the FIVB Volleyball Women’s U23 World Championship, click here.

U.S. Women's U23 National Volleyball 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 - Tia Scambray (OH, Monarch Beach, Calif., T Street Volleyball Club)
14 - Sha’Dare McNeal (Opp., San Diego, Calif., Neruda Volksbank Bolzano)

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly
Assistant Coaches: Reed Sunahara, Joe Trinsey
Technical Coordinator: Jamison Van Neil
Team Doctor: Jill Wosmeck

2013 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U23 World Championship

Pool A (at Tijuana, Mexico – High Performance Center Gymnasium)
Oct. 5: Turkey def. Italy 29-31, 16-25, 26-24, 25-22, 17-15
Oct. 5: Dominican Republic def. Argentina 25-14, 25-18, 25-16
Oct. 5: Japan def. Mexico 25-19, 25-13, 20-25, 25-15
Oct. 6: Japan def. Italy 21-25, 18-25, 25-22, 25-16, 15-12
Oct. 6: Dominican Republic def. Turkey 25-18, 25-16, 25-21
Oct. 6: Argentina def. Mexico 26-24, 25-21, 25-21
Oct. 7: Turkey def. Argentina 25-20, 25-20, 25-19
Oct. 7: Japan def. Dominican Republic 15-25, 25-22, 17-25, 25-17, 15-9
Oct. 7: Italy def. Mexico 25-19, 25-15, 25-20
Oct. 8: Japan def. Argentina 25-19, 25-16, 25-19
Oct. 8: Dominican Republic def. Italy 23-25, 25-23, 25-16, 25-12
Oct. 8: Turkey def. Mexico 25-7, 22-25, 25-18, 25-19
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 def. Kenya 25-11, 25-11, 25-6
Oct. 5: China def. Germany 25-21, 25-22, 18-25, 25-19
Oct. 5: Brazil def. Cuba 28-26, 25-27, 25-15, 25-21
Oct. 6: Germany def. Kenya 25-9, 25-15, 25-10
Oct. 6: United States def. Cuba 25-20, 25-19, 25-21
Oct. 6: China def. Brazil 25-16, 21-25, 25-22, 25-23
Oct. 7: Brazil def. Kenya 25-8, 25-7, 25-10
Oct. 7: United States def. Germany 25-15, 23-25, 25-27, 25-12, 15-11
Oct. 7: China def. Cuba 25-14, 25-21, 25-23
Oct. 8: Cuba def. Kenya 25-19, 25-23, 25-21
Oct. 8: China def. United States 25-15, 18-25, 14-25, 25-19, 15-5
Oct. 8: Brazil def. Germany 25-11, 25-11, 25-21
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.