WJNT Advances to Gold Medal Match

By Tyson Rodgers | July 13, 2014, 12:23 p.m. (ET)

– The U.S. Women’s Junior National Team knocked off defending-champion Dominican Republic in straight sets on Saturday night, 25-16, 25-20, 25-18, punching its ticket to the gold-medal match of the Women’s U20 NORCECA Continental Championship.

Not only did the U.S. gain a chance for gold after the semifinal win, but Team USA also secured a berth into the 2015 FIVB U20 World Championship.

“We achieved our goal to qualify for the 2015 Junior World Championship,” U.S. head coach Tom Hogan said in a NORCECA interview. “Our serves and blocks helped us out of difficult situations during the match. Tomorrow we will look to compete with Cuba and have fun playing.”

Cuba defeated Mexico in four sets, 25-23, 14-25, 25-22, 25-20 to advance to the gold-medal match with Team USA. The two squads will square off at 7 p.m. MT on Sunday.

Previewing Saturday’s bout with Dominican Republic, it would seem the Americans were up for their toughest test of the Continental Championship, but Team USA aced that test with another dominating performance.

“We came out with heart and passion,” U.S. Team Captain Hayley Hodson (Newport Beach, Calif.) said. “We were primarily focused on the world championship berth. I think we struggled with our passing in the third set, but our solid blocking and aggressive attacking kept the pressure on them.”

The U.S. led by a wide margin in spikes (44-28) and blocks (10-5) on Saturday night. The Dominicans edged out Team USA in aces 3-2.

Middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan (Glendarden, Md.) topped the U.S. scoring effort with 14 points aided by a team-leading four blocks. Courtney Schwan (Milton, Wash.) added 13 points, while opposite hitter Hodson contributed 10 points to the win.

Mikaela Foecke (West Point, Iowa) finished with 10 points against Dominican Republic. Outside hitter Alexa Smith (Monument, Colo.) had eight points, while Jordyn Poulter (Aurora, Colo.) rounded out Team USA scoring with a point.

Libero Molly Sauer (Louisville, Ky.) had 16 digs on 28 attempts, to led the U.S. in that category, while setter Poulter had 32 sets on 86 attempts.

Team USA will try to reclaim its spot on the gold medal podium after winning bronze in 2012, which broke a streak of four-consecutive golds at the Continental Championship.

2014 U.S. Women’s Junior National Team
Name (Position, Hometown, Region, Club, HS Grad Year)

1- Jordyn Poulter (S, Aurora, Colo., Rocky Mountain Region, Front Range Volleyball Club, 2015)
2- Audriana Fitzmorris (MB, Overland Park, Kan., Heart of America Region, Invasion Volleyball Club, 2016)
3- Hayley Hodson (OH, Newport Beach, Calif., Southern California Region, Tstreet Volleyball Club, 2015)
4- Cat McCoy (L, Southlake, Texas, North Texas Region, TAV, 2014)
5- Alexa Smith (OH, Monument, Colo., Rocky Mountain Region, Colorado Juniors Volleyball Club, 2015)
6- Molly Sauer (L, Louisville, Ky., Pioneer Region, KIVA, 2015)
7- Danielle Cuttino (MB, Indianapolis, Ind., Hoosier Region, Circle City Volleyball Club, 2014)
8- Ainise Havili (S, Haltom City, Texas, North Texas Region, TAV, 2014)
9- Molly Haggerty (OH, Glen Ellyn, Ill., Great Lakes Region, Sports Performance Volleyball Club, 2016)
10- Courtney Schwan (OH, Milton, Wash., Puget Sound Region, Kent Juniors, 2014)
11- Mikaela Foecke (MB, West Point, Iowa, Iowa Region, Fusion Volleyball Club, 2015)
12- Rhamat Alhassan (MB, Glenarden, Md., Chesapeake Region, Metro American Volleyball Club, 2014)

Head Coach: Tom Hogan
Assistant Coaches: Erin Virtue, Robyn Ah Mow-Santos
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Team Leader: Denise Sheldon

Schedule and Results

Group A
July 8 - Cuba def Nicaragua, 25-11, 25-6, 25-16
July 9 - Dominican Republic def Nicaragua, 25-3, 25-9, 25-8
July 10 - Cuba def Dominican Republic, 25-16, 25-16, 17-25, 25-20

Group B
July 8 - Guatemala def Martinique, 25-14, 25-12, 25-17
July 9 - Costa Rica def Martinique, 25-12, 25-12, 25-5
July 10 - Costa Rica def Guatemala, 25-17, 25-20, 22-25, 21-25, 15-8

Group C
July 8 - Mexico def St. Lucia, 25-7, 25-18, 25-8
July 9 - USA def St. Lucia, 25-5, 25-4, 25-3
July 10 - USA def Mexico, 25-5, 25-21, 25-18

July 11 - Nicaragua def St. Lucia, 25-19, 25-20, 25-21
July 11 - Dominican Republic def Guatemala, 25-4, 25-4, 25-2
July 11 – Mexico def Costa Rica, 25-10, 25-12, 25-16

July 12 - Nicaragua def Martinique, 25-22, 25-18, 25-23
July 12 - Cuba def Mexico, 25-23, 14-25, 25-22, 25-20
July 12 - USA def Dominican Republic, 25-16, 25-20, 25-18

July 13
3 p.m. 5th Place Match, Guatemala vs. Costa Rica
5 p.m. 3rd Place Match, Mexico vs. Dominican Republic
7 p.m. Gold Medal Match, Cuba vs. United States