Women's Junior National Team Named

By Bill Kauffman | May 29, 2015, 8 a.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 29, 2015) – USA Volleyball is proud to announce its 12-player U.S. Women’s Junior National Team (WJNT) roster that will train and compete this summer.

Tom Hogan, head coach of the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team, and his staff have selected four outside hitters, three middle blockers, one opposite, two setters and two liberos to represent the United States at the Global Challenge held July 13-16 in Pula, Croatia.

Outside hitter tabbed to the WJNT are Adora Anae (Laie, Hawaii), Lauryn Gillis (New Castle, Ind.), Hayley Hodson (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Carli Snyder (Macomb, Mich.). Middle blockers chosen for the WJNT are Rhamat Alhassan (Glenarden, Md.), Danielle Cuttino (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Orie Agbaji (Kansas City, Mo.).

Audriana Fitzmorris (Overland Park, Kan.) is the lone opposite on the team, though other front-row hitters could fill in. Setters named to the elite roster are Jordyn Poulter (Aurora, Colo.) and Taylor Tashima (Wilmette, Ill.). Libero selected for the roster are Molly Sauer (Louisville, Ky.) and Caroline Knop (Pasadena, Calif.).

“On behalf of the entire coaching staff, we could not be more pleased with the roster for the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team,” Hogan said. “These players are among the top in the country and the world at this age group. These 12 players, as well as our staff, have an immense pride in representing our country. It's a privilege we take seriously and one we're excited to experience this summer.”

The squad has six veteran returnees from the 2014 WJNT roster that captured gold in the 2014 NORCECA Women’s U20 Continental Championship. Alhassan, Cuttino, Fitzmorris, Hodson, Poulter and Sauer are all back for the second season of the cycle.

Kaz Brown (Waterloo, Iowa) and Madison Duello (Liberty, Mo.) will serve as alternates on the team and will be called to train and compete with the team should an injury occur.

Along with Hogan, the WJNT coaching staff will consist of assistant coaches Erin Virtue and Stacy Sykora. Jared Goldberg will serve as the technical coordinator. Both Hogan and Virtue were part of the 2014 WJNT staff. Hogan, who was an assistant coach during Team USA’s silver-medal run at the 2008 Olympic Games, also serves as associate head coach at University of Denver. Virtue, who was a setter for the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2005-06, is an assistant coach at the University of Michigan. Sykora, a three-time Olympic Games libero, is making her first appearance as a coach in the program. Goldberg recently accepted a position with Morehead State University.

In addition to the Global Challenge, the WJNT will train and play matches from July 4-12 in Trieste, Italy and Maribor, Slovenia. The squad has scheduled matches against the senior national teams for Croatia and Israel prior to competition in the Global Challenge. The U.S. will also play their junior national team counterparts from Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, as well as Hungary’s U22 team. Other matches are being discussed while training and competing in Europe.

The U.S. qualified to participate in the 2015 FIVB Women’s Junior World Championship by winning gold at last year’s NORCECA Women’s U20 Continental Championship. However, this year’s World Championship event changed locations from Cyprus to Puerto Rico, along with the dates of the competition from early July to Sept. 9-21. With the lack of available athletes during September due to academic concerns and the collegiate and prep volleyball seasons, USA Volleyball opted to pull out of the World Championship and compete in the Global Challenge.

Tom Pingel, senior director at USA Volleyball, believes the planned alternative training and competition schedule in Europe this summer will help fill a the void left by the World Championship changing dates and location.

“While we are very disappointed that this team will be unable to participate in the FIVB U20 World Championship, the opportunity to travel to Europe and compete at a high level will help fill the void and keep this group of athletes on a strong path within the USA Pipeline.”

Hogan feels the planned summer training and match schedule will ultimately push the selected players to greater heights and benefiting the U.S. Women’s National Team in the future.

“The primary goal of the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team is to prepare the top players at the junior level for the National Team and the Olympics through high-level training and international competition,” Hogan said. “We will teach and train the U.S. Women’s National Team system and concepts in our gym, and we will compete against some of the top junior national teams in the world. We think this trip has the potential to create an Olympic impact on some of the players on our roster, and we look forward to seeing them develop through this high level experience.”

2015 U.S. Women’s Junior National Team
Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College/High School, Youth Club, Region)
Orie Agbaji (MB, 6-3, Kansas City, Mo., Oak Park High School, Club North, Heart of America)
Rhamat Alhassan (MB, 6-4, Glenarden, Md., University of Florida, Metro American, Chesapeake Region)
Adora Anae (OH, 6-1, Laie, Hawaii, University of Utah, Imi Ike, Aloha)
Danielle Cuttino (MB, 6-4, Indianapolis, Ind., Purdue University, Circle City, Hoosier)
Audriana Fitzmorris (OPP, 6-4, Overland Park, Kan., St. James Academy, Invasion VBC, Heart of America)
Lauryn Gillis (OH, 6-1, New Castle, Ind., University of Wisconsin, Munciana, Hoosier)
Hayley Hodson (OH, 6-2, Newport Beach, Calif., Stanford University, Tstreet, Southern California)
Caroline Knop (L, 5-8, Pasadena, Calif., University of Michigan, San Gabriel Elite, Southern California)
Jordyn Poulter (S, 6-0, Aurora, Colo., University of Illinois, Front Range, Rocky Mountain)
Molly Sauer (L, 5-7, Louisville, Ky., University of Louisville, KIVA, Pioneer)
Carli Snyder (OH, 6-0, Macomb, Mich., University of Florida, Michigan Elite, Lakeshore)
Taylor Tashima (S, 6-0, Wilmette, Ill., Northwestern University, Wildcat Juniors, Great Lakes)

Head Coach: Tom Hogan
Assistant Coaches: Erin Virtue, Stacy Sykora
Technical Coordinator: Jared Goldberg
Team Leader: Denise Sheldon

2015 U.S. Women’s Junior National Team Alternates
Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College/High School, Youth Club, Region)
Kaz Brown (MB, 6-4, Waterloo, Iowa, University of Kentucky, Six Pack, Iowa)
Madison Duello (OH, 6-5, Liberty, Mo., University of Wisconsin, KC Power, Heart of America)